One of the final defendants in the “Flush the Johns” antiprostitution sting conducted under then-Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice pleaded guilty Tuesday to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, a noncriminal violation.
Scott Manning, 47, of Oceanside withdrew his initial not-guilty plea on the charge of patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor offense, and pleaded guilty to the amended charge in District Court in Hempstead.
Manning admitted to engaging in disorderly conduct on April 26, 2013, in Garden City, when questioned under oath by District Court Judge Anthony W. Paradiso. Paradiso sentenced Manning to a conditional discharge, including 35 hours of community service.
Manning also will have to attend a so-called Johns school, which is a two-hour educational program for those accused of prostitution-related offenses run through a partnership with the Nassau district attorney’s office and organizations that fight against human trafficking.
After court, Manning said the experience, which began with his arrest in 2013, has been “exhausting.” Manning, who denied the prostitution charge, declined to comment further. His Legal Aid attorney also declined to comment.
Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Rice’s replacement, District Attorney Madeline Singas, said: “In pleading guilty in this case, this defendant will attend an educational program that teaches about the horrors of forced sexual labor and that human trafficking is not a victimless crime.”
Manning was one of 104 men arrested two years ago and charged with patronizing a prostitute in the sting aimed at male patrons instead of female prostitutes.
When Rice, now serving New York’s 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, announced the sting, she released the names, ages, and hometowns of the 104 men.
Rice (D-Garden City) also released their mug shots, posted all the arrest information on the district attorney’s website and coined the operation’s name — “Flush the Johns.”
But since then, more than 90 of the men have either pleaded guilty or were eligible to plead guilty to a noncriminal charge despite Rice’s insistence that all plead guilty to a misdemeanor crime.
Nearly all of those swept up in the sting were required to attend the “Johns school.” If they took the class, they could plead guilty to the disorderly conduct offense, a violation that would leave them without a criminal record.
Manning was one of the last defendants with an open case.
Garden City attorney Brian Griffin, who had represented five of the arrested men, said in June that two of those clients went to trial and were acquitted, two others pleaded guilty to a noncriminal charge, and one case was dismissed by a judge but prosecutors were appealing.
The roundup was the first time the county had tried such an initiative — and, to date, the last.
In a statement in June, Singas called the sting successful, though she declined to say whether it would be used again.
She said dismissed cases were being appealed “because we think the judges were wrong on the law.”