Another 'Flush the Johns' case dismissed

Nassau police and prosecutors announced in June the

Nassau police and prosecutors announced in June the arrests of more than 100 men -- including two doctors and two dentists -- on charges that in recent years have gone largely unprosecuted in the county: soliciting prostitutes. Photo Credit: Nassau DA

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Criminal charges have been dismissed against another man swept up in a "Flush the Johns" sting that snared 104 people last year on charges of patronizing prostitutes in Nassau County.

It was at least the fourth case that has been dismissed, but prosecutors say six of the defendants have pleaded guilty to date.

The most recent dismissal came in a ruling by Judge David Goodsell of First District Court in Hempstead, who said in a written decision on Jan. 17 that the charging document against Hewlett dentist Judd Lesser did not make out a crime; it simply repeated the words in the penal code and did not specify what Lesser did that was criminal.

"In order for an accusatory instrument to be sufficient, it must specify the sexual conduct," the judge ruled.

A spokesman for Rice said Monday that the dismissal was "due to how officers worded court papers," and said that new paperwork would be filed to reinstate the charges.

"Ninety percent of the cases resulting from this sting are still pending -- there have been six convictions and we expect many more to follow," spokesman Shams M. Tarek said in a statement.

Tarek said there have been five "Johns" cases dismissed for which prosecutors are filing reworded charges or are rearguing.

Lesser's attorney, Marvin Hirsch of Mineola, said Monday that the weakness of the prosecution case went far beyond a mistake in wording.

"There are 10 different aspects to this case that I could challenge, and -- no disrespect to the judge -- he picked the easy one and dismissed it for insufficiency," Hirsch said.

All 104 men were charged with patronizing a prostitute in the third degree, a misdemeanor, Rice said at a news conference in June announcing the results of a sting conducted in April and May that she labeled, "Flush the Johns."

She said all the men responded to Internet ads for sex by placing a telephone call to an undercover officer, and were arrested when they went to local hotels to engage in sex.

Another Johns case was dismissed Dec. 20 by Judge Susan Kluewer of First District Court. The district attorney's office said it consented to the dismissal for lack of evidence.

On Dec. 10, Judge Sharon Gianelli acquitted one of the defendants in a ruling from the bench and dismissed the charges against another defendant in the interest of justice. In November, Gianelli had suppressed evidence against another defendant, but did not dismiss that case outright.

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