Vice officers involved in a crackdown on escort services in the Augusta area are beginning to arrest customers.
Until last weekend, Richmond County sheriff's investigators focused on escort service employees who engaged in prostitution and those who supervised the illegal deals.
With the help of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and a cooperative escort employee, though, they arrested two Martinez men Friday accused of calling and trying to pay $175 for an escort to have sex with them.
Glenn Beasley, 33, of the 3700 block of Columbia Road, and Robert Poppell, 42, of the 4000 block of Keene Street, were charged with pandering in the separate incidents. They were booked into the Columbia County jail and released later under $1,050 bonds, sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.
Investigators had set up at a Gordon Highway hotel Friday night and called Ivy's Escorts of Augusta, which sent an employee. The woman almost immediately started disrobing, Sgt. Greg Smith said.
Instead of arresting her, police got her to cooperate in a sting on her customers. Police say that Mr. Beasley was charged at Econo Lodge on Belair Road and that Mr. Poppell was arrested at his residence.
Richmond County vice officers charged Teri Vaughn, of Starnes Street, with prostitution in the sting Friday night. She is the owner of Teri & Friends Escort Service, police said.
Police say the crackdown seems to be working. Officers called Augusta Escorts and were promptly told the business didn't serve Richmond County anymore.
Officers want customers to get the message, too.
"We want them to be afraid to make the call," Richmond County Investigator Richard Elim said.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.