Andrew Thomas Links New Times to Escort Bust, Overlooks Arizona Republic Ad

By Ray Stern

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas went out of his way to try to connect New Times to the announcement of the local bust of a large prostitution ring.

Chloe Magouliotis, Kursta Luna and Kari Fager, who were among those arrested in connection with an alleged prostitution ring.

Although Phoenix police news releases about the ring don't mention the name of any newspaper, a press release by Thomas claims the police report states that escorts were recruited, in part, in New Times ads. Police would not confirm that on Wednesday, nor say if the report mentioned any other newspapers.

It looks like Thomas went out of his way to launch a cheap shot at New Times, which has a pending civil rights lawsuit against him and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And the Republic bit, passing along Thomas' dig in its article today.

But Thomas should have checked first to see if the "Desert Divas," as the ring members called themselves, had placed ads in other venues.

If he'd done that, Thomas would quickly have found an ad for "Desert Divas Flat Rate Full Service" under the Republic Web site's Dating Escort and Introduction Services category (a category, by the way, that contains 202 entries). In fact, if you do a search for "Desert Divas" on the Web site, you'll get links to both the article about the alleged ring and the business listing, all in one convenient package.

The Republic's "Desert Divas" contains a phone number in Scottsdale, one of the many cities in which the alleged ring operated. Police wouldn't say whether the number belongs to the prostitution ring, but that's irrelevant since the type of business appears to be the same.

Of course, it's not surprising Thomas would try a half-assed attempt to smear a newspaper he doesn't like during a press conference. As with the propaganda he puts out in public service announcements, Thomas just can't seem to stop pandering to his dumbest supporters.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.