In 'Flush the Johns' case, defense spars with prosecutors over documents

Kewho Min, 43, of Garden City, during a Kewho Min, 43, of Garden City, during a quick break while inside Nassau County Court in Hempstead, Monday, April 28, 2014. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Nassau prosecutors rested their case Tuesday against a Garden City man accused of patronizing a prostitute following a day of legal clashes over defense claims that prosecutors had failed to properly disclose documents before trial.

Lawyers for both sides were to give their summations Wednesday before Judge Rhonda Fischer in First District Court in Hempstead at the nonjury trial of Kewho Min, 43, who was arrested May 9 after prosecutors said he responded to an Internet ad for prostitution -- an ad actually placed by Nassau County police.

Min's attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, said prosecutors filed a copy of the wrong Internet ad in their pretrial papers and did not file the correct one until a few weeks ago. Robert Castillo, the lead prosecutor in the case, said he had turned over the right ad as soon as he became aware of the error.

Griffin also objected to the prosecution's failure to give proper notification about the handling of the $120 that prosecutors said Min had placed on the dresser after responding to the ad and meeting a female undercover police officer in a Garden City hotel room.

Fischer did not preclude any of the material from being used as evidence, but told Castillo at one point: "People. I'm getting tired of this very sloppy disclosure."

The undercover police officer in the case testified that when she first spoke to Min on the phone, he agreed to pay $120 for an hour of what she presumed was sex, the amount specified in the ad on Backpages.com.

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Griffin pressed her on whether there had been anything in the ad or the telephone conversation about sexual intercourse. "I don't know what the exact words were on the telephone," the undercover officer said.

Police arrested 104 men over a two-month period last year in a sting that became known as "Flush the Johns." Seventeen of the men have pleaded guilty to the sole charge, patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor; two were acquitted after a nonjury trial; and one was convicted after a nonjury trial.

Charges were dismissed in one case at the request of prosecutors and another case was dismissed by a judge in the interest of justice. The remaining cases are pending.

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