(CBS) NEW ROCHELLE The downturn in the housing market appears to have driven two Westchester homeowners to desperate and illegal measures.
New Rochelle Police raided a 3-bedroom home on North Avenue Friday night arresting four alleged prostitutes and the homeowners.
The house, they say, had been turned into a brothel complete with heavy shades over all the windows and a red ribbon placed out by the sidewalk to indicate they were open for business.
Richard Werner and Heather Mezzenga are charged with promoting prostitution. The two are both mortgage brokers who moved out of the house roughly two years ago so they could begin renovating a home on Mountain Road in Pleasantville.
New Rochelle neighbors told CBS 2 the house had originally been listed for $750,000 but didn’t sell even after the price had been dropped to $600,000.
David Saperstein said, “He couldn’t get his price, then he rented,” but a series of families came and went and the house fell into apparent neglect until new occupants apparently arrived two weeks ago.
Saperstein says the lawn was cut, and heavy shades were put up on all the windows but he never saw the new neighbors.
“The air conditioning was running all day and no one’s there,” he told us. “But at night there’s five, six, seven cars there.”
Natalie Nanzo said she had even thought about buying the house when it first went on the market and couldn’t quite get over the allegations that the home had been turned into a brothel.
“I’m in shock,” she said, “because these people were business people. I can’t believe they would be involved in prostitution.”
One of the couple’s Pleasantville neighbors seemed pretty sure business problems were at the root of the shocking news. “I know they’re mortgage brokers,” Peter Passidomo said. “And I know it’s been a tough business, so I assume they might have had financial difficulty.”
He said the front of the Mountain Road home had been under renovation for the entire two years the couple had lived next door with their little boy, who appeared to be of Kindergarten age.
Both homeowners, as well as the four alleged prostitutes, who range in age from 21 to 30, are free on bail.
Mortgage brokers open brothel, now that's funny!!!