SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- A federal grand jury indicted the police chief of a small town in northern Kankakee County on charges of running a prostitution scam that bilked more than $400,000 from 99 men who handed over the money to avoid the shame of being prosecuted for soliciting a $300-an-hour hooker over the Internet, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Scott Fitts, 40, the police chief of Grant Park for 14 years, was arrested outside his home in Manteno and arraigned in federal court in Springfield on 10 counts of wire fraud, making false statements to federal investigators, income-tax evasion and illegal structuring of financial transactions, said U.S. Atty. Rodger Heaton, who oversees the Central District of Illinois.
Fitts faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He was released on bond after agreeing to an indefinite leave of absence from any law-enforcement position until his trial in August. Fitts' attorney Thomas Durkin said his client "has been a respected member of law enforcement for many years" and will plead not guilty.
The scheme allegedly was hatched in November 2005, when Fitts arrested a woman in Chicago identified only as Brooke on prostitution charges while he was moonlighting as a special agent for the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the indictment. Fitts told Brooke that she could "work off her case" if she helped him with a sting operation in Manteno, Heaton said.
Brooke advertised her services online and, over time, lured nearly 100 men to a Manteno motel, where they expected to pay her $300 an hour for sex, according to the indictment. Instead, while the would-be customer was showering, members of the Grant Park or Manteno Police Departments would burst into the room and arrest him.
The men typically paid a $3,500 "fine" and let Fitts keep whatever cash they had at the time, according to the indictment. Fitts allegedly collected $400,720 over seven months, diverting $224,760 for his own use and paying $38,240 to Brooke.
Jeffrey Meitrodt can be reached at email@example.com.