Vt. police investigate alleged prostitution ring run on Facebook - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. police investigate alleged prostitution ring run on Facebook

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"Peaceful, quiet, family going and gathering-- it's a good place to raise your kids and stuff," said Steven Palmer of Bennington.

Palmer loves his hometown. The resident was stunned by news that police are investigating a prostitution ring.

"It is just hard to believe that there would be one in Bennington and Bennington County of all places," Palmer said.

But investigators say the evidence starting piling up after they interviewed Kayla Foucher, a 23-year-old Bennington resident. She told Bennington Police she was a prostitute and named numerous other young women who were selling sex for money and drugs.

"The investigation is centered around an individual going by the name of Jason Balsh on Facebook and was soliciting various girls to engage in prostitution or sex for money," Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said.

Jason Balsh is the alleged pimp running the ring. A search warrant for Balsh's Facebook account shows conversations between Balsh and another woman, who Foucher says is a friend that introduced her to Balsh. Foucher says she worked for Balsh, whom she never met face-to-face.

"He would text me. He wouldn't tell me the names; he would just say that somebody was coming," Foucher said.

She says Balsh assigned her three streets to work: Park Street, Pleasant Street and School Street. Foucher says she was given a description of the vehicle, and if the client drove up and down the street three times, she was to get in the car and make arrangements for sexual activity.

In a recently released affidavit, court papers say Thomas Lyons owns Bennington Subaru and admitted to having sex with Foucher. She described Lyons as a regular client. A search of the business and Lyons' home led police to seize computers, cellphones and other electronics.

"Charges are imminent, regardless of the fact that the computer analysis hasn't been done as thoroughly as it could if I had up to a year," Marthage said.

And investigators are looking into whether Lyons is actually running the call girl operation as Jason Balsh on Facebook.

"There have been some cursory evaluations of the computer done that make me feel comfortable pursuing whatever charges are going to come out of this investigation," Marthage said.

Marthage says the investigation will be wrapping up shortly and she expects to see charges being pressed within a week. She also says that whoever is found to be portraying Jason Balsh could be facing criminal charges.

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