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Women plead not guilty to prostitution

Published: Tue, January 14, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

Six were caught in sting in Austintown

Six suspected prostitutes plead not guilty.

All six women caught in a sting in Austintown last week pleaded not guilty to their misdemeanor charges on Monday.

By kalea hall



All six women accused of prostitution and caught in a sting in Austintown last week pleaded not guilty to their misdemeanor charges Monday.

Only one of the women, Christina Gradillas, 34, of Boardman, is being detained in Mahoning County jail.

Gradillas is charged with prostitution, criminal trespassing, possession of drugs/drug abuse (suspected crack cocaine), possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drug-abuse instruments.

She pleaded not guilty to all the misdemeanor charges.

No plea was accepted for her felony charge of drug possession.

Judge Diane Vettori of Mahoning County Area Court gave Gradillas a $2,500 cash or surety bond.

She also was given a $50,000 recognizance bond for the misdemeanor charges.

Maria Polas, 25, of Youngstown is charged with prostitution, drug abuse (heroin), drug abuse (suboxone), possession of drug paraphernalia and drug-abuse instruments.

She appeared with her attorney in court and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

Cristin Urso, 32, of Warren sent in a letter of representation to enter a not guilty plea for a prostitution charge.

Tiye Brightwell-Knox, 27, of Akron pleaded not guilty to a prostitution charge.

LaCarra Peterson, 28, of Struthers also pleaded not guilty to a prostitution charge.

Heather Upole, 29, of Youngstown pleaded not guilty to the charges of prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The women were arrested on Wednesday after an undercover, collaborative operation among the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, Austintown Police Department, the Youngstown FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Jeff Solic, task force commander, said the sting occurred in the state Route 46 and Interstate 80 corridor.

The women were not associated with one another and were discovered by escort advertisements they all had on backpage.com.

A man, Christopher Sturgeon, 23, of Youngstown, is charged with promoting prostitution and possessing drug-abuse instruments.

Solic said Sturgeon transported one of the women to the location were the activity was to take place.

Sturgeon did not appear at his arraignment set for 1 p.m. Monday, and court records did not reflect if a plea was entered for either charge.

He does have a pretrial hearing scheduled for both charges at 3 p.m. Feb. 3 in Austintown.

Gradillas, Polas and Urso have pretrial hearings for their charges at 3 p.m. Feb. 3.

Upole has a pretrial hearing at 3 p.m. March 31.

Court records were not available for Brightwell-Knox or Peterson.


1Askmeificare(1170 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Don't worry girls.

Mary Magdalene was a whore too.

Now she's famous.

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2billdog1(5784 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Urso, I wonder if she is related to the king of DUI's? Many countries do have legal prostitution and it is regulated. The girls have to be tested regularly cutting down on disease and the clogging of the court system and all the resources spent on this sting. Their punishment will be minimal anyway. I guess it isn't important to say wish of the many business' was the meeting place. Restaurants, hotels, truck-stops, gas stations, strip bars, etc... I'm guess it was a reputable business or the paper would of slammed a truck stop, strip club or that skanky old hotel with the strip club in it.

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3bumslife(28 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Ianacheck: One could make many of the same arguments regarding an overhaul of the ridiculous war on drug (USERS) as well, if one were to do some simple thought experiments and get informed by sources other than what our govt crams down our throats from toddler onwards...

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4papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

if they think there's a problem with prostitution now, wait until the race track and casino are up and running. I personally think it should be strictly regulated and legal. I'm tired of flying to Denmark, it's getting expensive.

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5southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

It wasn't me your Honor...it was someone who looked like me - honest!

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