James Perdue was accused of running a prostitution service out of his Palm Harbor home, pimping out teen-age runaway girls
Palm Harbor Florida - The allegations are chilling: a 61-year old Palm Harbor man accused of operating a prostitution ring with teenage runaway girls.
James Perdue was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday after officials got tips from neighbors that something unusual might be going on inside his home located at 665 9th Street.
On Friday, Perdue was formally charged with one count of procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution and his bond was set at $30,350. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says additional charges are likely.
According to Gualtieri, Perdue was pimping out teenage girls through the website Backpage.com. The sheriff says so far they have interviewed two 16-year-old girls that Perdue was shopping to other men for sex. He believes more victims are out there.
"These same girls were advertising their services for sex, 2 for 1 if you will, 2 for $150," Gualtieri told reporters on Friday.
At least one of the prearranged encounters was at the Knights Inn in Palm Harbor, while another occurred at a hotel in Tampa off North Dale Mabry according to the sheriff.
"At the time Perdue was arrested he admitted that he had been involved with these girls, he admitted to showing them how to place the ads on Backpage, he admitted to transporting them, but then tried to deny that he was their active sponsor if you will, or the person responsible for this."
The two girls interviewed by detectives say they had sex for cash and or drugs ten different times.
In 2007 Perdue was pulled over and arrested for possession of marijuana. Gualtieri says a teenage runaway girl was in the car when Perdue was stopped and that he was wearing a dildo strapped to his waist at the time. The girl was returned to her parents.
The only charge that stuck with Perdue was possession. Perdue eventually received a sentence of 1-year probation.
The sheriff says the incident raises the possibility that Perdue had been running a prostitution ring for years.
"We don't have any specific information to that effect but most certainly there are strong indicators that this is systemic activity on the part of Perdue."