A mortgage company, a podiatrist, an investment firm, a tanning salon and a Web marketing consultant have all called the same Tacony storefront home in recent years, according to various online directories.
Last week, Philadelphia police linked yet another type of business to 6830 Torresdale Ave. It’s also been a house of prostitution, according to officers in the department’s vice enforcement unit.
Police arrested three alleged hookers and their madam there on Jan. 15 after the women solicited sex for cash from an undercover vice unit investigator, authorities claim.
Complaints to police from citizens triggered the sting operation. The women allegedly fashioned themselves as “massage therapists,” police said.
The alleged prostitutes include two Frankford women: Christina Bohnert, 26, of the 5000 block of Griscom St., and Brenda Davila, 39, of the 4600 block of Griscom St., along with Aneisah Scott, 20, of the 5600 block of McMahon St. in East Germantown, and Lisa Ann Kingston, 52, of Croydon, Bucks County. All four were charged with soliciting and promoting prostitution as well as conspiracy. Kingston was charged as the “owner” of the “house,” while the others were charged as “inmates.” Police did not indicate that any of the women were being held against their will.
All four were released from police custody on their own recognizance, but Scott was then taken into custody by Montgomery County authorities for violating probation on a prior assault and theft case there. Kingston has an extensive criminal record in Philadelphia dating to 1976 with convictions for drug possession, insurance fraud, forgery, theft, retail theft, criminal mischief, DUI and other offenses. In addition, she is awaiting sentencing in a 2012 DUI/drug case.
Davila and Bohnert have no prior convictions in the city, records show. Last June, however, Bohnert was among five women and one man arrested by Delaware County authorities in connection with a prostitution ring at a Tinicum Township hotel. In December, Bohnert pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year probation.
Barbara and Glen Rosenwald of Boynton Beach, Fla., are the registered owners of the two-story, middle-of-row commercial property on Torresdale Avenue. A message left for the owners via a property manager was not returned. The manager said that the first-floor rental unit is now vacant.
The operator of the Web marketing business occupying the second floor told the Northeast Times he had grown suspicious of the downstairs tenants in recent months.
The Entourage Group LLC rented both floors of the building from mid-2009 into 2010, said one company official, who requested anonymity. When his company downsized, it vacated the first floor. Perhaps a year later, the women and their clients began showing up.
The women kept to themselves and didn’t discuss their business with him. Eventually, one of the downstairs workers told him they were producing films on the first floor. Last summer, the women’s air conditioner failed, so he went downstairs to help them. He didn’t see any cameras in their space, he said.
The place seemed busiest when it first opened, particularly at night and on weekends, the upstairs tenant said. Most of the customers appeared to be older men, with many driving vehicles with New Jersey tags.
The Entourage Group has a separate entrance. The name is abbreviated as “The E” on a sign outside. It remains open for business.
Joe Nicoletti, president of the Tacony Town Watch, said his organization complained to authorities several months ago about the site as part of a broader plan to rid the neighborhood of prostitution and drugs.
The podiatrist, mortgage company and investment firm all occupied the property prior to The Entourage Group. Online listings identified yet another business, described as an “entertainment” company, for the site. The Entourage Group official said that the firm occupied the first floor after he had vacated it.
Last September, City Councilman Bobby Henon reported that the address had been referred to the city’s Department of Streets as a “short dumping” site. Somebody had dumped about a dozen bags of trash on the sidewalk outside the storefront.
The Entourage Group official said that the block seems to have a lot of foot traffic during the daytime, but retail stores generally don’t last there. Mostly, professional offices and discount stores seem to have more longevity. ••