Lawyer pleads guilty, pays fine in Salem prostitution case
BRENTWOOD - A Concord attorney pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor prostitution charge on Monday for paying a woman for sex at a Salem motel that was under surveillance by police in June 2011.
Richard Mooney, 53, of Bow entered his guilty plea in Rockingham County Superior Court as part of a negotiated plea deal that allowed him to avoid a second charge of hindering apprehension.
After leaving the motel room, Mooney called the prostitute and warned her that she was being watched by detectives, according to police.
He made the call after he got pulled over by a Salem police officer on June 13, 2011. "When I asked Mooney to explain his business at the Red Roof Inn, he advised me that he had nothing to say," Salem police Detective Michael Bernard said in a sworn affidavit.Police then questioned the prostitute a day later about an unrelated matter. She revealed she knew that Salem police had her under surveillance. "I asked (her) how she knew that she was being watched and she stated that she had received a phone call from a client on the previous day that just had left her hotel room," Bernard said in the affidavit. "(She) said that the client told her that he had just been stopped by the police and that they knew what she was doing."
Mooney initially faced a pair of Class A misdemeanors, with each charge carrying up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. On Monday, Mooney was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and remain on good behavior. He faced no possible jail time since he pleaded guilty to a Class B misdemeanor.
His lawyer, Howard Roever, struck a plea deal with county prosecutors roughly a month after he asked a judge to dismiss charges in the case.
Had the case gone to trial, prosecutors expected to use the prostitute as a state witness against Mooney. For her cooperation, she was given limited immunity and not charged in the case.
Salem police began watching two motels in town after learning that women were using a web site to advertise themselves for sexual encounters. During the police surveillance, a police detective noticed Mooney slowly pass by a room rented by one of the prostitutes. Mooney entered the room without any luggage and left about an hour later, according to Assistant County Attorney Kirsten Wilson.
Roever argued in court papers that Salem police did not have enough legal justification to pull Mooney over after he left the motel room.The defense challenged the police stop earlier this year, nearly 21 months after the case was first filed in district court. Wilson suggested to a judge that the defense was too late to make such a claim in court.