Poker champ, 5 others busted for soliciting prostitution in Wake Forest
Top, left to right - Christopher Shella, Barrett Bennett, Gregory Raymer. Bottom, left to right - Keven Konarzewski, Robert Hancock, Gerlad Barham
FILE PHOTO - Greg Raymer of Stonington, Conn., looks over at the money he would later win Friday, May 28, 2004 at the World Series of Poker at Binions Horseshoe in Las Vegas. Raymer took home the $ 5 million first prize. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
WAKE FOREST, N.C. -
Six men, including a champion poker player, have been arrested for soliciting prostitution after Wake Forest police held an undercover prostitution operation Wednesday at a local hotel.
The effort resulted in six misdemeanor arrests for soliciting prostitution and attempted crimes against nature.
"The activity of prostitution itself does lead to other criminal act. There's drug use. There's human trafficking,"said Sergeant Stephen Cashwell with the Wake Forest Police Department.
Kevin Scott Konarzewski of Wake Forest, Barrett Lee Bennett of Durham, Christopher Burell Shella of Durham, Gregory Paul Raymer of Raleigh, Robert Hancock of Wake Forest and Gerald Barham of Wake Forest were each arrested without incident and placed under a $1,000 secure bond.
All six have their first court appearance on April 18.
According to ESPN, Raymer won the World Series of Poker in 2004.
"Mr. Raymer. I wasn't aware really who he was. I did recognize him. I thought he looked familiar," said Cashwell.
M. Smith, attorney for Raymer, released the following statement:
"Mr. Raymer is very sorry for this lapse in judgment. He regrets deeply
pain he has caused his family, friends and fans. Mr. Raymer is grateful
the many expressions of support he has received."
Each of the men responded to an advertisement posted by undercover police on a heavily trafficked prostitution website, authorities said. Police say that this effort was conducted to fight the growing trend of prostitution.
Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard said, "The locations prostitutes choose for this type of criminal activity vary and seldom remain the same for more than a couple of days at a time which makes enforcement difficult.
"In this instance, we conducted the operation at a local hotel with its full cooperation. We are not aware of this type of criminal activity ever occurring at the hotel. Our officers selected the hotel for the undercover operation at random."
The no guests at the hotel, the Candlewood Suites Wake Forest, were ever affected and the prostitutes were not on hotel premises according to Leonard.
Jennifer Shelly Byron is Director of Sales at the Candlewood Suites.
"If this was a preemptive measure that they felt they needed to take, we were happy to help them do that," Byron said. "We didn't see them or hear from them the whole time they were here. Didn't know what was going on until we got a phone call when it was all over."