BOCA RATON It wasn’t the stereotypical prostitution ring where girls stop cars asking johns if they want a date and turn their pay over to a pimp. Nor was it as fancy as the escorts that wealthy men hire for weekend trips in Las Vegas, authorities say.
But a ring advertised online as Sara’s Entertainment Service provided thousands of dollars to two local women, allowing at least one of them to live in a nice home.
The women behind the business — Denise McCoy, the wife of a Boca Raton police officer, and Sara Marin, who goes by several different aliases — even engaged in the sexual trade themselves, authorities say.
The service came to a halt Tuesday when Marin, 42, and McCoy, 34, were taken into custody. Both were being held at the Palm Beach County Jail late Wednesday.
Before Tuesday, the women allegedly were living off the earnings of their own sexual activity with men and the earnings of at least six of their hired escorts. The business raked in tens of thousands of dollars since at least February 2012. Marin’s six-bedroom home, where the two women were arrested, is in Canyon Isles, a gated suburban Boynton Beach neighborhood.
The women face charges of money laundering and procuring prostitutes by living off their earnings, but they don’t face human-trafficking charges. Authorities “didn’t uncover anything that would make us believe that they were working against their will,” said John Vecchio, violent crimes supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Miami regional center.
Three agencies — city police, FDLE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — started investigating the service five months ago when one hired escort, Carla Sardinha, was detained on immigration violations.
Sardinha told authorities she was forced to work as a prostitute in the Boca Raton area for the past nine months. She had arrived from Brazil in August 2011 and met with a woman she knew as only “Sara,” a city police probable-cause affidavit said.
Marin, also originally from Brazil, allegedly told Sardinha she owned an escort service and offered her a job. In September, Sardinha called Marin, but spoke with McCoy — another Brazilian, who told jail officials she lives in suburban Boca Raton — instead.
At first, Sardinha told authorities, McCoy told her she wasn’t required to have sexual intercourse with the men she escorted. However, once McCoy found out Sardinha had only a fake passport, McCoy told her she would go to jail if she didn’t have sex with clients because she was in the U.S. illegally.
Sardinha and at least six other women between the ages of 21 and their mid-30s would meet their clients in at least two apartments in suburban Boca Raton. Law enforcement conducted surveillance at 9859 Boca Gardens Circle North and 22312 Calibre Court.
City police and FDLE conducted at least two undercover operations in October and November. In November, officers spoke with men who admitted to paying the service for sexual acts. The women often charged $200 per hour, and they’d give half to the business. The payments were the only source of income for McCoy and Marin, authorities said.
While documents showed no reported income since the first quarter of 2009, McCoy and Marin’s bank accounts showed they were making money. Marin was found to have $40,779 deposited between mid-July and mid-December, while McCoy had more than $29,000 deposited from mid-March to November, the affidavit said.
McCoy’s husband of six years, city police officer Samuel McCoy, was not arrested in the investigation and is not a subject of it at this time, Vecchio said. McCoy was suspended in 2009, the Sun-Sentinel reported, for looking at pornography on his work computer. That same year he was caught taking pictures of his genital area while on duty.