CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Tuesday he wants charges refiled against a well-known capitol lobbyist who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.
Phil Reale, who served as former Gov. Gaston Caperton’s chief of staff and now lobbies for several high-profile groups, was taken into custody during a prostitution sting back in July. The woman involved was an undercover officer from an outside agency.
According to the police report, Reale said he was driving to the Berry Hills Country Club to hit golf balls the evening of July 11. On the way, he noticed a woman standing on the corner of Washington and Beatrice streets.
Reale told the Charleston Daily Mail in a story that ran in Tuesday’s edition, “My first inclination was that she needed assistance. When she approached my car, I was shocked to learn that she was a prostitute. I immediately declined her offer, but made a nervous, flippant response.”
He claims he never made her an offer. Mayor Jones said Tuesday he doesn’t believe that.
“If he’s going down Washington Street to get to Berry Hills, he’s taking the scenic route!”
Jones said Charleston Police Dept. Sgt. Bobby Eggleton, whose unit was in charge of the sting, wrote in his report Reale was so upset after his arrest that he feared Reale might commit suicide. Jones said as a result, the system went easy on him. That included omitting Reale’s name from a press release of those arrested during the prostitution sting. Jones said Reale put on a very good act.
“Apparently [Reale] did a very good job of pulling at the heartstrings of not only the policeman that was there, then [Reale] went upstairs and talked to the city attorney and did the same thing,” Jones said.
The charges against Reale were dismissed without prejudice, which means they can be refiled. Jones said it will be his recommendation that’s exactly what happens.
“I don’t think anybody should go to jail for this, not on a first time offense. I so think they should have to pay a fine and go through the system and realize there are sanctions to be taken for coming into this town to try to solicit prostitutes,” Jones said.
George Manahan, with the Manahan Group, is representing Reale. He told MetroNews after Tuesday’s news conference that he believes his client is being unfairly targeted.
“Of the six charged that evening, three had their cases dismissed including Reale. This clearly shows that Phil did not ask for nor did he receive special treatment from the city attorney,” according to Manahan.
Mayor Jones said he does not plan to pursue disciplinary charges against Eggleton because he feels he was simply trying to be a compassionate person the evening of the arrest. However, Jones said, “Leaving that name off that press release was a real mistake and it shouldn’t have been done.”