Lee man charged with paying for sex in connection with Pittsfield prostitution ring
PITTSFIELD — A Lee man faces multiple charges for allegedly paying for sex with at least three women considered victims in an ongoing human trafficking and prostitution investigation.
George T. Shaw, 50, reportedly admitted to police he had "dates" with the women, during which he paid between $60 and $80, but added he only paid them in cash and never with drugs.
Shaw's arrest is the latest in the ongoing investigation into a city prostitution ring, but apparently the first of a person alleged to have paid for sex.
Two men, 65-year-old Joseph E. Van Wert, of Becket, and Randy W. Lambach, 45, of Pittsfield, are each being held without bail, pending dangerousness hearings on charges connected to the alleged operation of the ring.
About 11:12 a.m., Friday, Nov. 24, city police on patrol in the Linden Street area spotted a vehicle and recognized it and its driver, Shaw, from apparent involvement in the ongoing investigation.
While watching the vehicle, police said a woman known to be involved in prostitution, exited the passenger side of the car.
According to court files, police had been looking for the vehicle for several days prior to Friday, without success.
Police caught up to Shaw's vehicle on Robbins Avenue and attempted to pull over the vehicle, but Shaw continued driving until stopping on Onota Street near Lakeway Drive.
Police told Shaw they needed to speak with him concerning the human trafficking and prostitution investigations.
Police spotted an item in Shaw's pocket and asked him out of the car and frisked him for weapons.
In the car, police also spotted an empty heroin bag on the dashboard and Suboxone wrappers.
Shaw was also carrying Suboxone and $520 cash when he was searched, according to police.
Also in the car, police found two prescriptions that weren't Shaw's; one for Suboxone and another for Gabapentin, which is used to treat seizures, among other ailments. Police also found condoms, lubricant and a state-issued debit card in the name of a woman police say is involved in prostitution.
During booking, Shaw was told the investigation showed he had paid for sex with at least three different women, all of whom were victims in the ongoing human trafficking investigation.
Shaw was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court Friday before Judge Michael Ripps and entered not guilty pleas to three counts of sexual conduct for a fee and one count of failing to stop for police.
Ripps released Shaw on personal recognizance. He is due back in court on Jan. 31, 2018 for a pretrial hearing.
Meanwhile, Van Wert and Lambach are expected in court on Nov. 29 for their respective dangerousness hearings.
Lambach is accused of seeking out women with a drug addiction, placing photos of them in online classified ads for sexual services, making arrangements with the customers and transporting the women to and from their appointments.
According to witnesses in the investigation, Lambach would keep most of the money the women earned and threatened to turn them in to police if they stopped working for him.
The investigation showed that Van Wert's apartment was used for people to have sex with the women alleged to have been trafficked, and he was paid in cash and drugs for the use of his home.
Van Wert also allegedly paid for sex with the women.
Lambach has pleaded not guilty to four counts of human trafficking. Van Wert has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking, deriving support from prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution and sexual conduct for a fee.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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