UPDATE: At least 17 people – including three area medical professionals – have been arrested as part of a two-day prostitution sting in Coralville.
Melody McCullom, 21, of Waterloo, faces felony charges of pimping, pandering involving a minor, human trafficking, obstruction and prostitution after she admitted to operating an online business that nets thousands of dollars a week, according to a criminal complaint.
McCullom, according to a complaint, also admitted to using her 16-year-old sister in her business and “taking money from her minor sister when she was willing to do sexual acts the defendant was not willing to do.”
The investigation – which has been under way for a month — remains open, and more people could be arrested in connection with the case, according to investigators from numerous departments including the Coralville, Iowa City and University of Iowa police departments and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
In total, more than 20 local and federal agencies worked on the extensive investigation that culminated with the arrests in Coralville on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Among the names of those arrested are three local medical professionals including Lance P. Forbes, a 42-year-old clinical assistant professor at the UI College of Dentistry; Timothy J. Maves, a 51-year-old anesthesiologist at Mercy Iowa City; and Scott B. Clemons, a 44-year-old with Clemons & Jones Family Dentistry.
All three were arrested on suspicion of prostitution.
According to a criminal complaint, Forbes – who joined the UI College of Dentistry in 1998 – is accused of arranging to meet a woman and, after arriving, paying an undercover female police officer $150 in exchange for oral sex.
Forbes, according to the UI website, provides clinical teaching to predoctoral and postdoctoral students. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the American Association of Hospital Dentists, among other things, and he made more than $107,600 in 2011, according to public records.
He was not at work Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
Maves, according to a complaint, responded to an advertisement on backpages.com for an escort service. He arrived at a specified location and met with an undercover officer posing as a woman from the advertisement, according to police.
He paid the officer $175 for a sex act and then admitted to police his involvement with the escort service, according to the complaint.
Maves, who graduated from the UI and did his residency at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, works with an anesthesiology practice – Physician Anesthesia Care of Iowa City – on Jefferson Street.
Mark Bowden, executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, didn’t comment on these specific cases but said the board considers information on criminal charges brought against physicians before deciding what action to take, if any, against their professional license.
Bowden said the board looks at whether or not the charge is relevant to the physician’s practice or raises questions about that person’s judgment.
The board could choose to do nothing or consider a range of actions including confidentially reprimanding a licensee, ordering further education, imposing a fine of up to $10,000 or restricting, suspending or revoking a license.
Others arrested in connection with the prostitution sting include: Nicole Chapek, 28, of Altoona; Changya Chen, 21, of Coralville; Randy Cooper, 45, of Cedar Rapids; Moises Garay, 25, of Cedar Rapids; William Heitz, 51, of Walford; James Jackson, 58, of Oxford; Bre Levi, 20, of North Liberty; Jacob Kolar, 21, of Iowa City; Mercedes Love-Anderson, 22, of Milwaukee, Wis.; Shanquetta Nix, 22, of Cedar Falls; Laura Robertson, 27, of Eau Claire, Wis.; and Randall Wieland, 55, of Riverside.
Two of the people who were arrested at listed in the UI student directory: Chen and Kolar. Chen is listed as a graduate research student in internal medicine, and Kolar is listed as a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
When reached by phone, Chen said he is from China and moved to Iowa last year. He said he didn’t understand the advertisement that he read and was surprised when two officers showed up at the Holiday Inn where he went to meet a woman and arrested him on suspicion of prostitution.
“Sometimes I didn’t know the meaning of the words,” he said. “I didn’t know that it was a bad thing and it was a crime. I thought it was a date thing. I didn’t know how this happened.”
All of them face a charge of prostitution. Nix also faces a charge of obstruction, and Levi faces an additional charge of child endangerment.
Dwan Moore, 28, of Cedar Rapids was charged for a probation violation, but not prostitution.
A stack of criminal complaints paints a picture of an extensive undercover operation that resulted in the arrests of people selling sexual services for money and their clients.
Jacob Kolar, for example, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution after he responded to an advertisement that solicited “guys” for adult entertainment, according to a complaint. He called and texted the phone number in the ad, requesting two girls and asking about kissing and protection, police reported.
When he arrived at the location, he was caught paying cash for the sexual acts, according to a complaint.
Shanquetta Nix, on the other hand, was arrested on suspicion of prostitution after she offered to perform sexual acts on an undercover police officer for money, according to a criminal complaint.
McCullum, according to criminal complaints, is accused of being behind a larger prostitution operation that involves her 16-year-old sister. She is accused of using her young sister “in the sex trade by taking her or making her available to adult men for sex,” according to police.
The younger sister would receive money and then turn over a portion of that cash to McCullum, according to police. McCullum also admitted to police that she created an Internet page for her younger sister that advertised her availability for “meetings,” police reported.
McCullum admitted at least two recent occasions where her sister committed sexual acts with men, according to police, and on Tuesday the young girl and another woman agreed to have sex with a man for money.
Officers gathered evidence of the agreements to exchange sex for money in a variety of ways, according to the complaints. Moises Garay was arrested after his agreement with an undercover officer was recorded and downloaded onto a DVD, according to police.
Nix was arrested on an additional charge of obstruction because police said she gave them the wrong name, according to a complaint. Levi was charged with child endangerment because police reported she brought a 3-month-old child, unsecured in a vehicle, with her to a location where she was “going to commit a criminal act.”
Levi, according to a complaint, accepted $350 from undercover officers for two sex acts.
William Heitz, who is listed in online databases as president of Walford-based Kuba Distributing Co., Inc., was arrested after police said he met with two undercover officers and agreed to pay $170 for a sex act, according to a complaint.
Coralville police on Friday arrested a 27-year-old Cedar Rapids woman outside a Days Inn Hotel in Coralville on suspicion of agreeing to exchange sex for money.
Heidi Marie Reynolds faces a charge of prostitution, but the man she was with was not charged because, according to Coralville police, he was “very cooperative” and agreed to show officers the text messages involving the encounter.
Coralville police Chief Barry Bedford, at the time, said the man wasn’t charged because it’s difficult to catch suspects in the act of exchanging money for sex, and the man provided evidence.
“It’s not criminal to have sex, it’s criminal to have sex in exchange for money,” Bedford said at the time. “We are usually not present for that part of the act … So in order to prove the case, we need cooperation from one of the individuals.”
Most of the suspects have already left the Johnson County Jail after posting bond. McCullom still is being held on a $30,000 bond and on a probation violation hold out of Black Hawk County.
Chapek also is being held on a $1,000 cash bond.