Greg Raymer Nabbed In Prostitution Sting Operation

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According to reports from North Carolina television station WRAL-TV, 2004 World Series of Poker Championship Event winner Greg Raymer was nabbed in a prostitution sting operation conducted by local police.

Wake Forest, NC police conducted the operation, placing an ad on a website that allegedly is known for usage by prostitutes to recruit potential customers. There were six men arrested for responding to the ad when they went to an unnamed hotel and were snared in the sting. Along with Raymer, a few prominent businessmen in the Raleigh area were arrested.

The police chief of the Wake Forest Police Department, Jeffrey Leonard, stated that his department conducted the operation “as a pre-emptive measure to combat the nationwide growing trend of prostitution,” according to WRAL. “In this instance, we conducted the operation at a local hotel with its full cooperation,” Leonard said to WRAL. “We are not aware of this type of criminal activity ever occurring at this particular hotel. Our officers selected the hotel for the undercover operation at random.”

The complete list of men is as follows:

Kevin Konarzewski, the president of Complete Inventory Services
Christopher Shella, the managing director of Shella, Harris & Aus P. C. Shella was the former attorney for Crystal Mangum, who was involved in the Duke University lacrosse rape scandal.
Robert Hancock, the vice president of sales and marketing at MobileSmith
Raymer, the 2004 World Champion and defending Player of the Year on the Heartland Poker Tour
Barrett Bennett & Gerald Barham

Original news reports had stated that Raymer was caught in a “male prostitution” ring, but those reports were quickly pulled after the true state of the sting operation was revealed.

The six men were reportedly charged with misdemeanor prostitution and attempted crimes against nature, a statute that is normal in southern states such as the state of North Carolina. North Carolina statutes hold a “crime against nature” as pretty much anything outside of marital copulation. All six were given a $1000 secured bond and released, with their first court appearance scheduled for April 18.

The news of Raymer’s arrest has stunned the poker community. Former Bodog owner Calvin Ayre stated over his Twitter feed, “Only reason Raymer’s bust should be big news is if he spent his life denouncing guys who paid for sex.” Jason Somerville chirped, “The government charging someone with ‘crimes against nature’…is ridiculous and insulting.” Randy Dorfman angrily Tweeted, “Stings like this are BS!”

Poker players and fans on Facebook were likewise surprised by the Raymer situation. Poker writer Johnny Hughes wrote, “I played with Greg a long time ago. No other person has done more to be a role model or being a gentleman in poker.”

Sting operations like this one conducted by North Carolina authorities have been used for a range of activities. In addition to prostitution, drug sales, auto thefts and even petty shoplifting have been the reasons for police to perform these stings. Usually, a member of the police department is involved, either as the “seller” of stolen goods or drugs or as a “prostitute” but, in the above situation, it appears only the ad was used to draw in potential customers that are now charged with their crimes.

Raymer has been one of the most respected professionals in the poker community since his championship victory in 2004. He has conducted poker seminars across the country, instructing poker players in how to improve their games, and continued to excel on the felt, earning more than $2 million on top of his $5 million score in the 2004 WSOP. Last year, Raymer was the terror of the Heartland Poker Tour, winning an unheard of four tournaments on his way to taking the HPT’s Player of the Year honors.

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