Real Life Somerville Police Stories: Shiquena JOSEPH, Ashley STELLA, Rakee RITNERGILL (Sexual Conduct for a Fee)

The following is a brief summary of the Incident. It does not contain every minute detail of the incident/arrest. O the above date and time, as a member of the S.P.D. Narcotics/Vice Unit, working in an undercover capacity, I assisted a Joint Task Force of the F.B.I. Human Trafficking Unit in an undercover sting operation. The focal point of this operation is the criminal offense of Sexual Conduct for a Fee and Human Trafficking. The site of this ongoing investigation centered on the XXXXX, XX XXXX St. Somerville, Ma. The contact person for this particular operation was Det. John Oliveira of the Somerville Police Dept., who is currently assigned to the F.B.I Bank Robbery Task Force out of Boston.

On February 22, 2018, Det. Sgts. Rego and Capasso, along with Insps. Cicerone, Legros, Goncalves and myself, met up with the Human Trafficking Unit at XXXX and received a briefing on the undercover operation. Once the briefing was completed, several members of the HT Unit (Human Trafficking), identified an internet web site (Backpage.com) that was displaying numerous advertisements offering services for a fee from an unidentified location in the Greater Boston area. As an investigative tool, the monitoring of various classified advertisements, utilized to solicit sexual services, is routinely conducted in an attempt to curb the illegal sex trade and associated offenses and negative quality of life issues that it affects. A UC member of the Unit made telephone contact via the advertisement to the following telephone number:XXXXX at @ 5:46 P.M. This number is related to a message that was posted on Backpage.com. The posting number is XXXXX.The name associated with this posting is “XXXX”. The UC was informed by XXXX that she would arrive at XXXX in @ 30-45 minutes. Several members of the SPD Unit were present in the parking lot of XXXX with several members of the Task Force Unit to monitor the arrival and entrance into the hotel of the defendant. The outside units were present to perform an investigative stop of any vehicle transporting any of the targets to the hotel. The defendant was observed arriving and being dropped off at the front door. The defendant was instructed to come up to Room #3xx. The UC was stationed in this room awaiting her arrival. The entire interaction was recorded on a “KEL” device. A Kel device is a secretive audio wire the UC is wearing that captures voice recordings, while being listened by another member of the Task Force. Once the solicitation is recorded, the UC provides the rest of the operational members with a predetermined signal to effect an arrest. The defendant will now be placed under arrest for the crime of Sexual Conduct for a Fee. Initially, the defendant, Shiquena Joseph, DOB – xxxx, once inside the room, refused to engage in a sex act. The defendant stated that she was there to provide the UC with a “message”. After some banter back and forth between the UC and defendant, the defendant subsequently agreed to provide the UC with manual manipulation of his penis with her hand for the sum total of $150.00. In the vernacular of the sex trade, this act is known as a “hand job”. Once the defendant agreed to the sex act and the agreed upon fee ($150.00), the UC gave the signal and several members of the Unit, along with myself, entered the room and announced our presence with our badges prominently displayed. We were all stationed in a nearby room (Room #3xx). Members of the Task Force determined that defendant is Shiquena Joseph DOB of xxxx, and is gainfully employed at xxx. The defendant also provided consent to the Task Force to perform a search of her I-phone while on scene. The defendant was handcuffed and transported to the SPD Headquarters, via the Prisoner Transport Vehicle, Wagon #200, being operated by Off. J. Brown, where she was booked and advised of her rights by Lt. DiGregorio.

Several more attempts were made in an effort to solicit further sexual services via the Backpage.com website. A UC member of the Unit made telephone contact to the following number: xxxx at @ 8:15 P.M. The name associated with this posting is “xxxx”. This number is related to a message that was posted on Backpage.com. At 8:15 P.M., the UC placed the phone call to the associated number. At @ 8:16 P.M., the UC received several text pictures of the defendant, Ashley M. Stella, on their phone. At @ 8:18 P.M., the UC received several “selfies” of the defendant associated with the telephone number on their phone. The UC was further texted that the defendant will arrive in @ 10 minutes. At the time of the 8:15 P.M., the agreed upon fee of $160.00 for a half an hour of sexual services was established. Subsequently, the defendant requested a photo from the UC. This request was due for her safety precautions. After the UC received the defendant’s selfies at @ 8:18 P.M., a discussion ensued regarding the particulars of the logistics of the meeting. At @ 8:40 P.M., the defendant arrived at the hotel. The defendant arrived in the following vehicle: XXXX. This vehicle is a gray 2017 VW that is owned by XXXXX (rental company). The vehicle was being operated by a light skinned B/M. The vehicle drove up to the front entrance of the hotel and the defendant exited from the passenger side front seat. She was instructed to go to Room #3xx, which she did. Upon arrival at the door, she knocked and the UC invited her into the room. Once inside the room, the defendant instructed the UC to place the money on the table, which they did. The UC then asked the defendant if she had a condom. The defendant stated that she did not have a condom and as long as the UC is clean, then that is OK with her. At this time, the defendant started to unbutton her pants. The UC then provided the predetermined signal to the rest of the undercover members, at which time we entered the room and announced our presence with our badges prominently displayed. Members of the Task Force determined that the defendant is Ashley M. Stella, DOB of xxxx, and that she is presently unemployed. As a result of a search incidental to arrest, the defendant was observed to have 5 individual condom packages in her pocketbook. The defendant was handcuffed and transported to SPD Headquarters, via the Prisoner Transport Vehicle, Wagon #200, being operated by Off. J. Brown, where she was booked and advised of her rights by Lt. DiGregorio. Upon further investigation, it was determined through III investigation, that defendant Stella has a previous arrest/conviction for Solicit/ Engage in Prostitution out of Las Vegas.

Earlier in my report, I noted that defendant Stella was transported to XXXX in a gray, 2017 VW with a XXXXX. Several members of the outside surveillance team observed a light skinned B/M operating the vehicle at the time of the drop off at XXXX. This vehicle was observed looping around the XXXX parking lot several times before finally parking in a parking spot. This tactic is a counter surveillance maneuver performed by individuals  transporting females, that are providing sexual services for a fee. This tactic is an attempt to ascertain the presence of LE personnel and to abort their task at the mere thought of LE presence in the vicinity. Once the driver is assured of no LE presence, they will park the vehicle and wait for the sex provider to complete their service. Once the sex provider re-enters the vehicle, the driver leaves the area and proceeds to another predetermined location for services rendered. A few minutes went by and the vehicle initiated an exit of the parking lot. Surveillance was maintained of the vehicle until the predetermined signal was given that the interaction between the defendant and the UC was completed. A M/V stop was initiated and the vehicle was stopped in the area of Assembly Sq. The operator of the vehicle was identified as the defendant, Rakee Q. Ritnergill. He resides at xxxx Las Vegas, Nevada, with a DOB of xxxx, and that he is currently unemployed. As a result of the M/V stop, there was a lack of cooperation on the part of the defendant when questioned about his most recent activities in the area. There were statements made by defendant Stella that she was familiar with defendant Ritnergill, that they both arrived via airline the previous day. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the two defendants were sharing a hotel in the Boston area. The defendant was handcuffed and transported to the SPD Headquarters, via the Prisoner Transport Vehicle, Wagon #200, being operated by Off. J. Brown, where he was booked and advised of his rights by Lt. DiGregorio.

Respectfully submitted,

Det. James McNally #80

Somerville Police Dept.

Narcotics/Vice Unit

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