Testimony in Putnam and Thongsy case shows websites connecting Roseville to prostitution
A jury is still hearing evidence to decide if Roseville’s Stephen Putnam and Syla Thongsy pressured two teenage girls to sell themselves on the streets of Sacramento, and the District Attorney’s Office tried to augment its case Wednesday by bringing the courtroom deep into the area’s world of Web-fueled prostitution.
Putnam and Thongsy are on trial for allegedly pimping a 16-year-old girl named Terri and a 15-year-old girl named Angelica.
Since much of the teens’ testimony about the summer of 2010 focuses on time they spent with Thongsy, prosecutor Stephanie Macumber has looked to establish a pattern of behavior on Putnam’s part, calling in police testimony about a stable of adult prostitutes that allegedly worked out of his Roseville home in 2008. Macumber brought Roseville police vice and narcotics Detective Jeff Kool to the witness stand. She asked Kool about a warrant he had served on Putnam’s Wood Leaf Circle address in September of 2008. Kool said that — after a woman had offered an undercover agent oral sex near the front door — he and other detectives had found Putnam upstairs, laying on a bed with a different alleged prostitute, a laptop computer between them.
“What was on the computer?” Macumber asked.
“It was a Craigslist ad,” Kool said. “It was in the erotic section of the site … it was associated with a prostitution ad.”
The detective added that it was not uncommon for masked prostitution ads to appear on Craigslist.
Macumber asked Kool about warrants he and other detectives had served in 2010, after Angelica came to Roseville police saying she had been manipulated and intimidated into working as a street walker for Thongsy. Kool told the jury that he had pulled Thongsy over in Putnam’s car in Sacramento County. Searching the vehicle, he found Motel 6 receipts, lingerie, a planning book with condoms in it and prescription medications. Kool went on to testify that he and Roseville Police Detective Dave Buelow had served a warrant on Putnam’s house and located sex ads that had been generated for Thongsy’s alleged alias, “Dana Banks,” on the website myRedBook.com. Jurors were able to see one of the ads on a screen: It featured what appeared to be numerous professionally done photographs of Thongsy in bathing suites and other attire.
“There’s some language on that advertisement about which I have some questions,” Macumber told the detective. “What do the words, ‘in-call’ and ‘out-call’ refer to?”
“Whether the prostitute will come to you, or whether you have to come to her,” Kool replied.
He also explained that comments about flowers and roses on the webpage were coded messages about which sex acts could be obtained for what prices. Macumber had Kool interpret several other phrases on Thongsy’s page, which the detective responded were highly specific and explicit sex acts being offered.
Angelica had repeated testified on Monday that Thongsy had tried to set up a MyRedBook.com photo shoot for her at Putnam’s house.
The next witness to testify was detective Buelow, who also works on the vice and narcotics team. Buelow told jurors that he had used a “cell bright” device to download text messages from a phone in Thongsy’s purse when she was arrested. Macumber handed the investigator a transcript of the texts.
“What does this message say?” Macumber asked.
Buelow looked down: “It says, ‘pimpin,’ pimpin.’”
“How about this line here?” Macumber went on.
“It says, ‘in-call in San Francisco,’” Buelow answered. Macumber then had Buelow read messages that said, “Da boss b**** need some help with these hos,” and “Ladies is pimps too.”
Macumber introduced three final pieces of text-based evidence. She asked Buelow about a text he’d found, allegedly from Terri to Thongsy, sent during the summer of 2010.
“It’s from Terri’s phone,” the detective replied. “It says, ‘Can you get me a room to work in, since it was hella hot last night?’”
“When Terri says it was ‘hot,’ is she referring to the weather?” Macumber inquired.
“No,” Buelow said. “Hot means there were a lot of police out that evening.’” Buelow also read a text, allegedly sent from Thongsy to Putnam, referencing an upcoming “photo shoot” for Terri.
Macumber had Buelow read one final message, sent from Terri’s phone to Thongsy’s.
“It reads, ‘Angelica is snitching about everything — I ain’t snitching, that ain’t me,’” Buelow said.
Putnam and Thongsy’s trial is scheduled to last another week.
Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT