Hotels sued for allegedly allowing prostitution

December 22, 2010 7:54:06 PM PST
Three Oakland hotels known for prostitution could be shut down under a lawsuit that alleges the owners have knowingly allowed prostitution to take place, and profited from it.

In Oakland, the prostitutes don't just come out at night. In the middle of the afternoon, they hang out with their pimps in plain view at the Economy Inn. In spite of the warning in the window at the National Lodge, the owners say prostitutes keep coming back and at the Sage Motel, all you have to do is wait and they show up here too -- but not for much longer.

"If they refuse to take even the most rudimentary and basic steps to prevent their business from becoming a magnet for crime and a danger to the community, we will shut them down," Oakland City Attorney John Russo said.

Russo named all three hotels in a lawsuit, saying they turn a blind eye to prostitution. The warning to the owners is either clean up your business or be shut down.

Police say it starts in the area known as the 'track,' where prostitutes walk up and down International Blvd. to solicit 'Johns' and from then go back to the hotels.

"An adult male showing up with five girls, all under the age of 18, should signal that there's something wrong," Oakland Police Department Lt. Ben Fairow.

ABC7 tried to ask the owner of the Economy Inn about it, but he didn't want to talk, but the National Lodge manager says it's a problem that is impossible to stop.

"I wouldn't know if you have a girl in the back of the car. You left, and I can't pay attention 24 hours and the girl might be in the room," hotel manager Hero Patel said.

The hotel doesn't rent rooms by the hour, it has surveillance cameras and Patel says a pimp recently broke his car windows because he refused to rent him a room.

"I see cops pass by all day long, all night not doing anything," he said.

But police say in this city known for its human trafficking problem, it's the hotel owners who bear some responsibility.


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