Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

St. Petersburg firefighter charged with prostitution, resisting arrest

ST. PETERSBURG — A longtime city firefighter was arrested Wednesday night after being caught up in a prostitution sting, police said.

According to an incident report, an undercover officer saw firefighter Ronald W. Smith pick up a prostitute shortly after 7 p.m. in the 3700 block of 34th Street N.

The officer followed Smith's yellow Hummer a short distance to a Walgreen's parking lot, then called for backup when he witnessed Smith and the woman, a transient identified as 29-year-old Ariane Parsons, engaging in a sex act.

Officers ordered Smith to open his doors but he refused, police said. They broke a window to get him out. Once outside, they ordered him to the ground but he again refused and resisted arrest, police said.

The officers then used a Taser on Smith, who is 41. He was arrested on a charge of prostitution and resisting arrest. Parsons, who told officers she'd made a deal with Smith to have sex for $60, also faces a charge of prostitution.

All the charges are misdemeanors.

Jail records show Smith was released on $400 bail early Thursday.

City records show he has been a firefighter for at least 20 years and is assigned to Station 12, which is in the Shore Acres neighborhood.

Fire officials are still trying to get information about the arrest and have launched an internal investigation, said department spokesman Lt. Joel Granata. Smith will be allowed to remain on regular duty while that occurs, he said. Records show Smith was also charged in 1995 with solicitation for prostitution. He received probation.

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