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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ex-USDA worker accused in prostitution case

Associated Press Writer
Thursday, January 15, 2009

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Kansas City is charged with running an online prostitution business through her office computer, according to a federal indictment released Wednesday.

Laurie Lynn McConnell, 26, was arrested Wednesday along with a second suspect, John O. Miller, 36. Both are from Kansas City. Miller was not a USDA employee.

Neither suspect had a listed phone number, and it was not known if either had an attorney.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Louis, which announced the indictments, some of the women hired as prostitutes were from St. Louis. Others were from Kansas City and Tennessee. The women allegedly worked as prostitutes in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.

“It is always disappointing when federal government employees misuse government resources,” said Michael Reap, assistant U.S. attorney in St. Louis. “However, it is deeply disturbing when those resources are utilized to commit a crime and exploit women.”

McConnell was a statistician with the USDA Risk Management Agency from August 2003 until she resigned in April 2008, said USDA spokeswoman Shirley Pugh, who declined further comment.

The indictment alleges that Miller and McConnell ran two online prostitution businesses — “Darc Phoenix” and “USA Honies” — from Miller’s computer at USDA. They allegedly placed advertisements on several Web sites and in newspapers that included the weekly Riverfront Times in St. Louis and The Pitch in Kansas City.

The indictment was returned in December but remained sealed until the suspects were arrested. Both could face five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The Office of Inspector General said through a spokesman that it doesn’t comment on investigations.

Published: Thursday, January 15, 2009.
Updated: Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:58 AM CST

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