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Raid, sting net total of 14 suspects

A West Avenue home suspected of fronting for prostitution and narcotics was raided by Buffalo police vice detectives late Monday. Five people were arrested.

Meanwhile, nine women were caught in an unrelated citywide prostitution sting Sunday and Monday, including one with a 72-page "rap sheet" with 148 prior arrests for prostitution and other charges, vice detectives said.

Detectives targeted 1246 West Ave. at about 10:30 p.m. Monday. They found three bedrooms set up for use by prostitutes along with more than two ounces of powder cocaine and half an ounce of crack cocaine.

The house also was equipped with an elaborate video surveillance system, police said.

"People would arrange the dates with the women using want ads published in [free tabloid newspapers] and they'd arrange times for them to come to the house," Lt. Thomas Lyon said. "They would be allowed to purchase and smoke crack or use cocaine at the house and at the same time engage in sexual acts of their choosing."

Lyon said the house was attracting men from "all over Western New York."

Arrested inside on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia were: Suzanne Gorney, 42, of Hertel Avenue; Karen E. Carter, 39, of East Delavan Avenue; Tara L. Hallam, 34, of the West Avenue house; Ymari Lewis, 32, of Rother Avenue; and Ronald D. Morris, 38, of Lincroft Road, Lackawanna.

"It was neighborhood, block club and City Council complaints that initiated this investigation," Lyon said. "The new administration has instructed the narcotics and vice unit to focus on quality-of-life issues and enforce the zero tolerance policy they've established."

Lt. Steven Nicosia as well as Detectives David Sugg, Johnny Walker, Edward Niemann, Michael Judge, Henry Velez and Timothy Mulhern assisted in the case and in the roundup of nine alleged prostitutes across the city, including one flagging down cars on Delaware Avenue.

Shelia Coulier, 36, of Linwood Avenue, faces three counts of prostitution and one charge of sexual abuse for allegedly offering sex to three undercover officers traveling in a van at Delaware and Allen Street.

Also arrested was Gina Baker, 46, of Easton Avenue. Baker, who has 148 prior arrests on similar counts, was charged with prostitution, sexual abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia after she was picked up by vice detectives at Genesee Street and Montana Avenue.

"This is a visible crime, and people are just sick and tired of this activity on their street," Sugg said.

Other women arrested in the sting and charged with prostitution were: Ruby Burgess, 43, of Sherman Street; Priscilla Jones, 46, of Koons Avenue; Yolanda Crawford, 40, of Castle Place; Carole McLaurin, 47, of Wyoming Avenue; Audrey Porter, 38, of Ashley Street; Kimberly Hanson, 38, no permanent address; and Cynthia Hyshaw, 53, of Krupp Avenue.


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