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Lobbyist asked if undercover officer was a cop, police report says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A prominent lobbyist and former aide to Gov. Gaston Caperton who was arrested during a prostitution sting over the summer allegedly asked if an undercover police officer was a cop before offering her $60 for sex, according to a police report filed after the incident.

Lobbyist Phil Reale, Caperton's former chief of staff, was arrested July 11 during a prostitution sting on Charleston's West Side. The arrest made headlines earlier this week after it was revealed Reale's name was intentionally left off of a press release listing people arrested during the sting.

Reale has publicly denied trying to solicit a prostitute. However, the police report issued by the Charleston Police Department following the arrest tells a different story.

According to the report, obtained by the Gazette, Reale drove his white Mercedes Benz onto Beatrice Street on the city's West Side on July 11 and drove up to an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute.

"Reale asked the undercover officer if she was a cop, and she stated, 'absolutely not,'" the police report says.

"Reale went on to say, he was worried about the undercover officer being the police," the police report continues. "Reale then told the undercover police officer he wanted to have sex with her for $60."

Reale was charged with soliciting for prostitution.

He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

George Manahan, CEO of The Manahan Group public relations firm and a spokesman for Reale, would not comment on the police report.

"We don't have a comment while the matter is still being considered by the city," Manahan said in an email.

Sgt. Bobby Eggleton, in charge of the city's Special Enforcement Unit at the time of Reale's arrest, has said he left Reale's name off of a press release about the prostitution sting because Reale seemed suicidal at the thought that news of the arrest would become public. The charge against Reale was dismissed in Charleston Municipal Court in August on the condition that Reale not get into legal trouble during the next year.

However, at a news conference earlier this week, Mayor Jones said it was a mistake to leave Reale's name off of the press release. Jones asked that charges be refiled against the attorney and lobbyist.

Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said Thursday that police and city officials are still discussing whether the charge against Reale should be re-filed, and whether the incident should be pursued in municipal court or Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Staff writer Rachel Molenda contributed to this report.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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