Mineola - (WALK) About 75 of more than 100 men arrested for soliciting prostitutes in Nassau County 's "Flush the Johns" sting operation may be permitted to plead guilt to lesser charges and avoid being stuck with a criminal record, according to District Attorney Kathleen Rice Wednesday.
Rice publicized the change in policy a year after announcing the arrests of 1-4 men and declared her intention that each of the suspects plead guilty to patronizing a prostitute in the third degree, a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year behind bars.
The program has not lived up to expectations: during the past year, four men went to non-jury trials and three were acquitted. On Wednesday morning a New Jersey man pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct; he avoided prison and was instead sentenced to 35 hours of community service and ordered to attend classes meant to deter men from soliciting prostitutes.
Representatives for D.A. Rice say similar plea bargains will be offered to approximately 75 men in pending cases; 24 who already pleaded guilty will be permitted to plead guilty to lesser counts. Defendants who accept the deal will be required to pay $250 to cover the cost of the program, managed by the DA's office and two non-profit victims' advocacy groups: the Safe Center Long Island and Sanctuary for Families.