What Sells Newspapers

I got a free six-week subscription to the local paper. I learned a lot of things. Mostly they are variants on "People are stupid." For instance: old-fashioned Ponzi schemes are still around. For instance: if you are in a high speed car chase, and you crash, and you try to back over a police officer, he will shoot you and nobody will be particularly sympathetic.

However, there was one story that stood out from the rest. It proved that the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction knows when to stop. It was the tale of a woman arrested for operating a brothel out of her house in Convent Station, a very nice suburb about ten minutes from where I live. They ran about eight stories on it- the bust, the trial, the sentencing. . .it was a great story and they wouldn't let it die.

Apparently Our Heroine had just been through an ugly divorce. She got the seven-bedroom, $1.5 million dollar mansion, and he naturally stopped making payments on it. So she was trying to figure out how to keep the house, and one of her friends [...] suggested running an escort service out of it. So she put some classified ads in the "Help Wanted" section of the very paper I was reading, interviewed some women, and started up a business out of the front two bedrooms.

Business was starting to pick up, after a few months, when the police arrived and busted the place. One of the neighbors was annoyed by the number of customers knocking on the wrong door. According to the newspaper, Our Heroine had sent over a fruit basket with an apology, "which was returned unopened."

So the cops arrested her for, and this is apparently a crime in New Jersey, "Encouraging prostitution." Go team. She pled guilty, and before her sentencing she gave a rousing statement to the press. She couldn't believe that prostitution was illegal and the tobacco companies were legally killing thousands of people a year. The non sequitirs were flying thick and fast. She was fined the $76,000 she had made off the business (so she had to sell the house anyway), was given a three year suspended sentence and 100 hours of community service. She'd been negotiating for the dog pound, but the judge sentenced her to work with ex-prostitutes. [...]

But that's not all. The ex-husband [remember him?] decided he hadn't gotten his name in the papers enough. Part of the divorce settlement was that she got to keep his half-million dollar life insurance policy. [...] He clamed that Our Heroine had been trying to hire a hit man. The police found "no evidence" of this. He didn't like that answer. So he went to the papers.

You can check out the actual articles here.

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