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Requested: Major crimes prosecutor

Washington County’s top prosecutor wants more money to fight organized crime.

County Attorney Pete Orput has requested funding for a major crimes specialist position in his office beginning in 2016. The County Board included the additional position in the preliminary budget for next year.

“As a proposal, it would be taking an attorney out of the day-­to-­day lineup to work on some of the more organized criminal activity,” Orput said.

That could include theft, narcotics and sex-trafficking cases.

Juvenile sex trafficking in south Washington County is more prevalent than people realize, Orput said.

And while they’ve made multiple arrests from a number of suspects in recent prostitution stings, Orput said he wants to combat the problem at its source. They can fill the jails with Johns, he said, but he wants to stop the ringleaders.

“What about the intractable criminals that are out there?” he said. “They’re very smart. They require a long-­term investigation and we’ll give it to ’em.”

While the County Board tentatively approved the position, the budget that contains its funding still must undergo public review before final approval in December.

The major crimes specialist would also work with local law enforcement to prosecute retail theft, drug and mortgage fraud rings, Orput said.

“If business is slow in one of end of the market, we’ll go to the other end of the market,” he said.

Orput said his office has met with the employees of some hotels in the county to teach them how to spot sex trafficking. But with more than 80 hotels and motels in the county, they can’t be everywhere, he said.

“We have to protect our kids first and foremost,” Orput said.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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