Octogenarian Nabbed in Prostitution Ring
Published Sun Jun 5, 8:06 PM ET
Police made a surprising discovery when they busted the alleged madam of a prostitution ring called "August Playmates": The woman running the show was an 80-year-old grandmother.
Authorities arrested Vera Tursi last month during a sting operation to crack down on prostitution rings posing as legal escort services. Police say Tursi ran the business from her two-bedroom apartment, taking $60 of every $160 she charged clients for one hour with a call girl.
Law enforcement officials say Tursi admitted her role in the business, saying she took it over a few years ago from her daughter, who had died. Police say Tursi told them she needed money to subsidize her Social Security checks.
Undercover police first began to wonder about the age of their suspect when they called the escort service as part of their sting operation. They said she seemed to have difficulty breathing.
"You get a feel for how old someone is when you talk to them," State Police Detective Sgt. Thomas Cornely told The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark. "She sounded like an 80-year-old woman."
Although police arrested Tursi when they came to her apartment May 2, they decided not to bring her to the police barracks because of her poor health.
Tursi has been charged with a a single count of promoting prostitution. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. But because of her age and lack of a criminal record, she's more likely to receive probation, Cornely said.
Information from: The Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com/starledger