POLK COUNTY, Fla. - After a 6-day undercover sting, 114 people are behind bars, charged with answering online prostitution ads, including an employee of the Osceola County School Board, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
The operation, which ran from Dec. 8 through Tuesday, was called “Operation Not So Silent Night.”
One of the 114 arrested was Dr. Matthew Phillips, 42, of St. Cloud, director of elementary curriculum for the Osceola County School Board, investigators said.
Phillips is accused of answering an online advertisement seeking two prostitutes and was arrested after showing up at an agreed-upon location, Sheriff Grady Judd said.
"Not only did he come seeking the services of a prostitute, he came to seek the services of two prostitutes," Judd said. "And when he came in, he said he needed to do a 'cup check,' and he reached up and grabbed one of our undercover detectives breasts.
A spokesperson for the school district said Phillips has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
School policy states that employees report any misconduct immediately, which Phillips did. The policy also states that an employee who is alleged to have committed such misconduct shall be reassigned to a position not requiring direct contact with students pending the outcome of the investigation.
A spokesperson for the district said Phillips position is in the office and not directly involved with children, and that's why parents did not receive a letter or phone call of his arrest.
These are the people arrested in the latest Operation Not So Silent Night. We are waiting for Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to speak@WFTV pic.twitter.com/R4QUyZEzRW— Sarahbeth Ackerman (@SAckermanWFTV) December 15, 2016
Also arrested was Michael Bonislawski, 40, of Davenport, who showed up at an agreed-upon location to meet with someone whom he thought was a prostitute, he was arrested and charged with offering to engage in lewdness, deputies said.
When he was questioned by detectives, he said his wife was at home and that their baby was due to be born that day, the sheriff’s office said.
Another man arrested in the sting, Matthew Irvin, 50, of Oakland, Florida, told investigators that his wife thought he was buying Christmas presents for their children when he was arrested after answering an online ad for prostitution, investigators said.
Both are charged with offering to engage in lewdness. Irvin is also charged with battery.
As part of the investigation, female undercover detectives posted fictitious ads online and male detectives answered ads posted by other people, the sheriff’s office said.
Both groups arranged meeting times and places, and when the individuals showed up, they were arrested, deputies said.
Of the 114 people arrested, investigators believe that four might be victims of human trafficking, the sheriff’s office said.
Investigators said 55 of the suspects were from the Orlando area, seven were from Clermont, nine were from Polk County and the remainder from various places around the country.
Two of the suspects thought they were meeting to have sex with children and 28 admitted they were married, deputies said.
Other arrests singled out by the PCSO:
- Thomas Davis, 48, of Mashpee, Massachusetts, allegedly began sending instant messages to an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. During their online conversation, Davis solicited the "girl" to send him nude photos of herself, and sent her photos of himself, including nude photos. Davis then drove to the undercover location and was arrested and charged with use of computer to seduce child, use of two-way communication device to commit a felony, traveling to meet a minor, attempted lewd battery, and transmission of harmful material to a minor.
- Oscar Gonzalez, 33, of Haines City, allegedly began talking to an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old boy on a social networking site, and then via text message. Gonzalez then drove to the undercover location and was arrested and charged with use of computer to seduce child, use of two-way communication device to commit a felony, traveling to meet a minor, attempted lewd battery, and resisting arrest.
Sheriff Judd: "Of the 114 arrests, 28 suspects admitted to being married" @WFTV— Sarahbeth Ackerman (@SAckermanWFTV) December 15, 2016
- Erik Hernandez, 33, of Kissimmee, allegedly told detectives after he was arrested that he had hurt his back setting up for his 9-year-old daughter's birthday party that same day, and had came to the undercover location to get a massage. He was arrested and charged with offer to engage in lewdness and battery.
- Michael Campanaro, 33, of Clermont, allegedly identified himself as a corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Coleman, Florida. He was arrested and charged with offer to engage in lewdness.
- Santos Rivera, 44, of Orlando, allegedly told detectives he is a 20-year retired police officer from Puerto Rico. He was arrested and charged with offer to engage in lewdness.
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