10/10/2016 - OKC, OK -- An alleged 'John' from New Jersey claims his prostitution arrest by Oklahoma City Vice was a setup - correctly predicts over a year ago that his case will end in dismissal. Was he setup by over zealous cops or did Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater drop the ball on yet another prostitution offender.
JohnTV began reporting on Mark Thomas Smolen of Branchville, New Jersey almost immediately after his November 2014 arrest for soliciting prostitution.
According to the official probable cause affidavit, back on Nov. 5, undercover officers with the Oklahoma City Police Department's Vice Unit posted a faux prostitution ad on Backpage.com in the hopes of attracting would-be 'Johns.'
Around 10 p.m. someone took the bait and responded to the ad by phone. The female undercover officer instructed the male on the other end of the phone to come to room #218 at the Motel 6 located at 504 S. Meridian Ave. in south Oklahoma City.
Shortly thereafter a male arrived who was later identified as 50-year-old Mark Smolen.
Police claim that "[Smolen] arrived and provided [the two female undercover officers] with $120 and agreed to have [one of the female undercover officers] perform oral sex on him."
Smolen was then taken into custody and transported to the Oklahoma County Jail - where he quickly posted a $500 bond and was released.
Just over two months later, Smolen was officially charged in Oklahoma County with one count of offering to engage in an act of prostitution.
Not long after Smolen's arrest, Smolen himself called JohnTV to voice concern over our coverage of him and how that coverage had been noticed by people in the small town he is from.
Click the play arrow on the video below to hear a portion of Smolen's version, in his own words...
Smolen insists that he was the victim of hunting buddies with poor judgement and undercover cops who set him up.
According to Smolen, he was returning from a hunting trip, was simply staying the night in Oklahoma City and celebrating his 50th birthday. That's when Smolen claims that a new younger member of their group thought he'd surprise Smolen with a purchased 'massage.'
After dinner and drinks, Smolen claims his group dropped him off in front of the Days Inn, with $120 cash and told him to go up to room 218 for this birthday 'massage.'
Smolen claims he had no idea that calling for a massage from an ad on Backpage.com and then going to a cheap motel after 10pm at night with a fist full of cash would have anything to do with prostitution.
So, naive Mr. Smolen proceeded up to the motel room and was greeted by two women.
Smolen claims that the women asked what he wanted and that he said he was just there for a massage. Smolen claims the women were persistent that he wanted more than just a massage and that they eventually just came out and asked if he wanted one of them to "suck [his] dick."
To this, the totally naive Smolen claims he simply said "whatever" -- and BAM, just like that he was under arrest.
Smolen claims that he hired a local criminal defense attorney and repeated the same story to him.
Smolen said his attorney promised him the same thing that he claims even an Oklahoma City police officer promised him.... that if the undercover female police officers solicited him (and not the other way around) then the case would eventually be dismissed. But not until after he'd been arrested, processed, forced to post bail, hire a lawyer and faced public scrutiny.
Sure enough, just short of two years later and no less than 15 court delays, the criminal case against Smolen was suddenly (and without explanation) dismissed at the request of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
So, one can only surmise that Smolen was indeed telling the truth and police set him up, or, that once again DA David Prater has proven soft on prostitution and those who would seek to victimize the women in our community.
The only way to answer that question would be with the public release of the audio tape from the night of Smolen's arrest.
Editorial Note: I have no idea what the truth is with this story. JohnTV has seen plenty of examples where police were overexuberant and crossed the legal line when it came to arresting would-be 'Johns' and even would-be prostitutes. Not to say that any of them were not up to no good - they simply didn't meet the legal threshold.
Additionally, the charges against Smolen were dismissed "with costs" and not "on the merits." Meaning, Smolen still had to pay court costs and there was no clarification to the record to show Smolen was improperly arrested. Not to mention it doesn't appear the dismissal included an immediate expungement of his record.