NUVO and the IMPD prostitution service

Dateline: Wed 02 Jul 2008

The Star's big story today, by reporters Francesca Jarosz and Kevin O'Neal, is about Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Jeremy Lee, 30, being linked to a prostitution ring in which his wife was the "star" of the "show."

But the read-between-the-lines news is the relationship between that service, offered by the cop and his wife, and NUVO, Indy's alternative weekly news magazine.

The Star story reports:

"According to a probable cause affidavit, Lori Vernon-Lee solicited women to work for her escort service and advertised their services through a local magazine."

Lori Vernon-Lee, 36, is the wife of Patrolman Lee. They allegedly operated out of their Greenwood home in Johnson County.

A source tells me tonight that the "local magazine" is NUVO, which, for as long as I can remember, has carried advertisements for various sexual services.

The source says:

"It appears prostitutes and their pimps like to advertise with NUVO. If I'm not correct, wasn't NUVO also implicated in another prostitution ring in Carmel last year?

"Also, NUVO was supposed to debut its 'new and improved' (as opposed to 'old and lousy?') website today. But it was up for only about an hour, and then it was shut down (www2.nuvo.net/). Their old website is still up at nuvo.net

"NUVO Publisher Kevin McKinney is well connected," continues the source. "His father is a famous banker, and he has high powered lawyers on NUVO's board. I'm sure they are huddling tonight and drafting a strategy."

I have not seen the probable cause, but an earlier version of the Star story named NUVO. So are the TV stations. And yes, McKinney family money for years has bankrolled NUVO, and, like other papers, NUVO has seen hard financial times. So it goes.

More inside info: NUVO knows that its advertising clients included prostitutes. These prostitutes came by NUVO offices on a monthly basis to pay their bills.

Here's the key question: If it can be proven that NUVO absolutely knows its escort ad clients are pimps and working girls, is NUVO in hot water? The Star reported that more indictments are forthcoming.

As for NUVO, theirs is hardly the lonelyhearts club. Many alternative news weeklies carry ads advertising various sexual services.

As for NUVO being outside the mainstream, it's not quite so. Many alternatives are part of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. This includes mags/rags in major metro areas -- more than 120 in all. "Escort" ads are not uncommon.

But, if NUVO lost its revenue from these sources, would they have to close their doors?

As for casting stones, an acquaintance who worked in advertising years ago was persuaded that selling 1-900 ads was the only way to keep a certain Indy-based publication aimed at senior citizens in the black. Cooler heads prevailed, and the little mag stuck to its AARP ad clientale -- and went out of business.

Sex sells. And apparently, it pays the bills. But when you've got an Indy law officer using the services of the supposedly alternative weekly to pimp his wife -- something is quite rotten in Indy.

If anyone else can weigh in on NUVO's role in this matter as well as the Carmel incident, have at it, please. Sounds like a developing media story, one that bears watching.

Here is the link to the Star's story:

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080702/NEWS02/80702068

And the link to the WTHR Carmel story:

http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?s=5777567

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