Scarsdale High ex-dean nabbed in 3-state prostitution probe
A former Scarsdale High School dean with a Friday night cocaine habit was snared in a three-state takedown of a Manhattan-based prostitution ring that advertised its services in the back pages of The Village Voice, state prosecutors say.
David Mendelowitz, 58, was one of three johns charged with patronizing a prostitute and possessing crack cocaine as part of a 16-month probe of a $3.2 million sex ring, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday. Investigators said Mendelowitz ordered up crack cocaine, Viagra pills and prostitutes with a credit card and had them delivered to his White Plains apartment.
Nineteen sex ring workers were indicted on charges in connection with their roles in the drug, money-laundering and prostitution ring run at a Manhattan ad agency office with satellite locations in Queens, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Philippines. One of them lives in the Hudson Valley: Fannie Hubbard, 23, also known as Alex, of Yonkers, Schneiderman said.
"This investigation led to the arrests of multiple individuals who were part of a criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women," Schneiderman said.
AD AGENCY ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED
The ring centered on Somad Enterprises, an ad agency on West 25th Street in Manhattan that partnered with numerous pimps across the city to disguise credit card payouts for sex and drugs as legitimate advertising transactions, prosecutors said.
Somad used cash generated by the sex ring to purchase ads promoting its business in the pages of The Village Voice, and online on backpage.com, prosecutors said.
"All anyone has to do is open a copy of The Village Voice to get a good sense of how classified advertising and prostitution go hand in hand, particularly in the prostituting of Asian women," New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "Our focus remains the profiteers and johns engaged in prostitution -- not the women exploited by them."
The probe started as an investigation into the origins of so-called backpage advertising in publications like the Voice and branched out into a money-laundering and prostitution probe that required multiple wiretaps on key players in the scheme, state investigators said.
Among the johns whose names surfaced during the probe were leading financiers, political players, a doorman and the unemployed, law enforcement sources said.
Two female victims of human trafficking were rescued from locations in Manhattan and turned over to Sanctuary for Families, which offers a haven for women swept up in the city's sex trades.
Mendelowitz, who could not be reached Tuesday, was charged with numerous counts of patronizing a prostitute, possessing a controlled substance and hindering prosecution, prosecutors said. A former guidance counselor at Scarsdale High, Mendelowitz was involved in the school's drug and alcohol task force, prosecutors added.
INVESTIGATORS ALERTED SCHOOL OFFICIALS
Mendelowitz resigned in June soon after state investigators alerted school officials that he had been caught on a wiretap soliciting sex and drugs from his home, a law enforcement source said.
Mendelowitz was the only one of three alleged johns who've been charged who was arrested Tuesday as state investigators work to locate the others.
Scarsdale schools superintendent Michael McGill notified students and families of the arrest in an email Tuesday.
"I regret to inform you that we have just learned that a former dean at Scarsdale High School, David Mendelowitz, who retired in June, has been arrested on charges involving prostitution and illegal substances," McGill wrote. "Law enforcement officers have told us that his alleged conduct did not involve anyone in our community. Despite this sad and most unfortunate news, we continue hopefully on our educational journey."
Mendelowitz is listed as a past president of the Westchester Putnam Rockland Counseling Association, which provides support, advocacy and training to school-based counselors.
On May 4, Mendelowitz arranged to have a prostitute named Yoyo and a rock of cocaine delivered to his Mamaroneck Avenue apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday. Mendelowitz paid with a credit card, the complaint said.
Six days later, the complaint added, Mendelowitz arranged for a prostitute named Suji to come to his apartment with "the blue thing" -- a reference to the sexual performance pill Viagra -- so they could engage in sex. A third liaison occurred on May 18 with Suji, the complaint said.
ALLEGEDLY CONFESSED TO INVESTIGATOR
On May 21, Mendelowitz admitted to a state investigator that he has been using cocaine for two decades, the complaint said.
"I order cocaine and crack from an Asian female that I know," Mendelowitz allegedly told the investigator during an interview at his apartment. "I have been using cocaine for 20 years. The last time I used cocaine was on May 18, 2012. I usually use cocaine on Friday nights."
Investigators told Mendelowitz they were conducting a long-term investigation and urged him to not reveal their conversation to anyone.
The following day, police were listening in when Mendelowitz called an alleged pimp and drug peddler, Jay King, and told him about his visit from investigators from the attorney general's office. The conversation was being recorded.
"They knew I was smoking crack," Mendelowitz told King, the complaint said. "They say I was seeing prostitutes and the only people that I have ever used (for) service is yours. So, somehow, they are on to you, Jay. Do you know anything about this? They knew everything that I was doing, so one of your girls or someone has been telling them."
King, 52, of Queens, faces drug and prostitution charges.
Mendelowitz told King he lied to investigators, the complaint said.
"I didn't tell them anything," he said. "I don't know what's going on. I am just giving you a heads-up."
Mendelowitz was charged with hindering prosecution for making the phone call.
He is being held in lieu of a $10,000 bond after an arraignment Tuesday in White Plains City Court.