PHOENIX - Authorities said a Valley business,which fronted itself as a self-serve pornography studio, was really operating as a prostitution house and arrested eight people in a Thursday evening raid of the business.
Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said eight people were arrested, including 52-year-old owner William James Hartwell, in a prostitution ring located near 40th Street and University Drive in Phoenix.
Martos said the operation was part of a six-month investigation in partnership with the FBI.
Police raided the business Thursday evening around 7 p.m. after obtaining a search warrant.
The company reportedly advertised itself online as a self-porn business in which customers would pay to star in their own adult film.
Martos said customers would pay $140 per half hour to have sex with a female employee.
Of the eight people arrested, six were women, one a male, and one person who has not yet been identified. Reportedly one woman was nine months pregnant.
The eight people arrested include: Hartwell, 24-year-old Michelle Marchetti, 20-year-old Shelby Dunn, 23-year-old Tammie Torres, 22-year-old Adrianna Aguirre, 20-year-old Danielle Bell and 25-year-old Amber Mackenzie. One other person was arrested, but police are waiting to confirm the person's name and identity.
At the time of the raid, women were escorted out of the beige-colored building. Some were seen wearing leopard-print pajamas and another woman was several months pregnant.
Investigators said Hartwell told an arresting officer that he was not surprised police showed up at his company's door. "We've been expecting you guys for a long time," Hartwell said, as he was escorted to a police care. "We run a safe, legal business."
Harwell and Marchetti were both arrested on charges of illegal control of an enterprise, conspiracy to control an enterprise, pandering, operating a house of prostitution, and receiving earnings of a prostitute.
The others were all booked for participating in an illegal enterprise.