Two men swept up in an anti-prostitution sting in Nassau County last year have been allowed to withdraw their misdemeanor guilty pleas and enter new pleas of guilty to lesser charges of disorderly conduct, a noncriminal violation.
Jairo Ruando of Hempstead and Geoffroy Roget of Hollis entered the reduced pleas in First District Court in Hempstead on Friday, five months after Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she would allow lesser pleas in the "Flush the Johns" sting she had publicized in June 2013.
She had maintained for a year, as the cases worked their way through the court system, that all 104 men arrested in the sting in April and May 2013 must plead guilty to the misdemeanor of patronizing a prostitute in the third degree if they did not go to trial.
Then, in June 2014, she said she would allow a reduced plea to disorderly conduct if the defendants agreed to perform community service and attend prostitution awareness classes, sometimes called "johns school."
Ruando, who was 32 at the time of his arrest, and Roget, who was 28, were the first of 24 men who had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to withdraw that plea and enter a new one. The one man convicted at trial will also be allowed the lesser plea, Rice has said.
Mineola attorney Christopher Graziano, who represented both Ruando and Roget, said Monday he would seek to have the men's DNA profiles, obtained from them after their guilty pleas, removed from the state's central registry.
Rice's press secretary, Paul Leonard, said Monday that the office would not oppose such a move.
He said plans for the prostitution awareness program were being finalized and classes for the defendants were expected to begin this month.
There were 24 guilty pleas to misdemeanors before Rice offered the plea bargain to a reduced charge in June, and 60 men awaiting trial took the reduced plea in the ensuing months. Four men were acquitted after nonjury trials, and a judge was expected to render a verdict Wednesday after another nonjury trial.
Seven cases are pending.