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FDU Professor Ran Sophisticated Prostitution Website, Police Say

Site offered detailed information on undercover officers, tips on what to do if arrested.

A physics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus in Teaneck is accused of running a website that linked prostitutes with johns, provided descriptions of undercover officers and even hosted videos offering legal advice on what to do if arrested, authorities said.

Police in Albuquerque, N.M., arrested David Flory, 68, of New York City, Sunday afternoon and charged him with 40 counts of promoting prostitution, court records show.

Lt. William Roseman of the Albuquerque police career criminal section said the site, SouthwestCompanions.info, involved 200 female prostitutes and 1,200 johns.

Men using the site were put in categories based on the level of trust they had gained from Flory, Roseman said.  Prostitutes would e-mail details of their sexual encounters with the johns, increasing the level of trust the men had on the site and allowing them to gain access to more features on the site.

The men did not meet Flory and Roseman said approvals were done electronically. 

Roseman said johns could gain access to a range of features, including rating women, reading about sexually transmitted diseases and searching information gathered to identify undercover police officers involved in prostitution busts.

“It was detailed enough that it described a burn on an officer's arm,” Roseman said.

While websites offering sex-for-money are not new, Roseman said Southwest Companions went beyond what police normally deal with. Investigators had not seen the level of detail being collected on undercover officers.

“This was a sophisticated site that took it one step further,” he said.

Flory told police he managed the site as a hobby, and Roseman said Flory didn’t make any money from the operation. The site was apparently designed to give johns and prostitutes a “safe place” to meet, Roseman said.

Users learned of the site through word of mouth, which is eventually how police caught wind of the operation. Roseman said his investigators could definitively link Flory to having knowledge of at least 40 acts of prostitution, and others were likely involved with running the site.

“We do think there were others that were below him in a moderator capacity,” Roseman said.

The site, which remained online Tuesday afternoon, alludes to others being involved. 

"Our staff consists of volunteers only, and we are unable to monitor all areas of the boards at all times. If you see posts which you feel are inappropriate, please use the "report to moderators" feature beside the post to bring it to their attention," reads a message on the homepage. 

Seemingly aware of possible legal issues, the site notes its content is for "entertainment purposes" only. 

Police, however, contend that Flory knew he was promoting illegal activity. A detective infiltrated the site, gaining a “verified account” through an informant, according to an arrest warrant. Using the screen name “David8,” the warrant said Flory posted “helpful tips” on how to avoid arrest and removed users who he thought had contact with authorities.

Through a subpoena to Internet domain registration company GoDaddy.com, police learned that Flory used his FDU e-mail account to create the site. A GoDaddy spokesman declined to comment on the case, but issued a statement noting the company "routinely" works with law enforcement. According to the warrant, Flory also used DCF8.org for e-mail on the prostitution site, with the domain matching his initials. 

The warrant also said police believe Flory signed on to the site at “all hours of the day… which would be consistent with that when he would be at work.”

New Jersey State Police searched Flory’s Metro campus office, turning over electronics to computer forensics investigators, authorities said. New York State Police also searched his Upper West Side apartment.

“Anywhere he had computer access, he had access to it,” Roseman said.

Flory, who has a vacation house in Santa Fe, was logged in to the site when detectives arrested him at an Albuquerque Starbucks, according to police. 

“When we approached him, he actually had the website up on his phone,” Roseman said.

In a statement, FDU said it was cooperating with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation.

"FDU is saddened by the news of the arrest of David Flory and is concerned about these serious charges. Our hearts go out to all of those impacted by this situation," the statement said.

University spokeswoman Dina Schipper would not comment on Flory's employment status Tuesday morning.

The University later released a second statement saying Flory's employment was under review.  University officials have declined further comment. 

Flory taught at FDU since 1969, according to his personal website. The site says he is the former director of the School of Natural Sciences and served as an assistant vice president overseeing academic affairs, information systems and human resources.  He is married with two adult daughters and a stepdaughter, according to his bio page. 

His website includes a page about his New Mexico vacation home and describes the Southwest, Santa Fe and New Mexico as his "favorite places."

Court records show Flory was being held on $100,000 bail Tuesday.

JamesTS June 21, 2011 at 09:48 PM
NOt much to say on this ... just one big WOW. 40 counts!!

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