Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says prostitution is not a victimless crime.
WINTER HAVEN – First came a stern warning from the sheriff that in Polk County, prostitution is not considered a victimless crime.
Then came the names, addresses, and mug shots of the 29 people arrested in a prostitution sting by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, done in the Winter Haven area – and, according to Sheriff Grady Judd, done quite successfully.
Those arrested this past weekend included an employee at NASA on the Space Coast, and a state worker who was driving in his department-issued vehicle when he got charged.
All of them ended up at this Polk County Jail on Easter weekend, prompting Judd to note that he views prostitution as a serious matter — and a serious violation of the law.
“Those who solicit for prostitution should take note,” Judd said. “We will not tolerate prostitution in Polk County. The negative social costs of prostitution hurt families, children and communities.”
The sting operation started on Friday, April 6, when Polk County detectives went undercover in the Winter Haven area, posing as people offering sex for a fee. They got plenty of offers, noted Carrie Eleazer, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
As she noted in her report on the sting, 75-year-old Joseph Creazzo of Lakeland was among those who ended up at the jail. He got charged with soliciting another person to commit lewdness and prostitution. Creazzo is a Department of Agriculture employee who was on duty at the time he got arrested, and was driving his department issued vehicle when detectives say he solicited an undercover detective for sex.
Also arrested was 50-year-old Walter Schmitz of 132 Yacht haven Drive in Cocoa Beach.
“Schmitz told detectives he is an engineer for NASA,” Eleazer noted in her report. “He stated he use to work on the Space Shuttle program, but since its retirement, he has been working on a program for its replacement.”
Schmitz was also charged with soliciting another person to commit prostitution.
This isn’t the first time that county law enforcement has conducted aggressive stings targeting local prostitution. In October 2007, Orange County vice investigators attracted plenty of headlines when they asked The Orlando Weekly newspaper to cancel ads for adult services, calling those ads a front for prostitution.
Investigators with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation claimed the advertising in The Orlando Weekly’s adult services section was helping to keep large prostitution rings in business.
And like Judd, the local vice agents claimed prostitution was not a victimless crime, and said the typical prostitute is HIV-positive and could infect hundreds, if not thousands, of people each year.
In 2010, pressure and threats of legal action from attorneys general in numerous states, including Florida, prompted the Craig’s List Web site to shut down its “adult services” section. The attorneys general had charged that “ads for prostitution—including ads trafficking children—are rampant” on the site, and that Craig’s List had been dubbed “the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking.”
Judd said he, too, would not stop targeting those who offer sex for a fee – or come into his county looking for it.
“Our detectives will continue to conduct these investigations,” Judd said. “Prostitution and solicitation for prostitution is a crime. You will be arrested and you will go to jail.”
Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the “act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money,” prostitution is illegal in Florida, according to Chapter 796 of the 2010 Florida Statutes.
That statute prohibits anyone from offering, soliciting or coercing a person into performing sexual acts for hire. The law also makes it illegal to own, rent or reside in a place or building that’s being used for prostitution. The charge for violating this section of the law is a second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense, first-degree misdemeanor for the second offense and third-degree felony for the third offense.
A person convicted of prostitution while knowingly infected with HIV will be found guilty of a third-degree felony.
Craig’s List still has ads for women and men who perform massages, and those ads for listed under “therapeutic services.” These ads run under tag lines that include “MALE Therapist will Travel To You!,” “Best in Orlando – Oriental Massage! SWEET & LOVELY ASIANS,” “Asian Messages you will enjoy, relieve stress,” “Best Body Work in Town!” and “Bliss Is Only Fingertips Away.”

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