Prostitution sting nets 5 suspects


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Five Big Island men were arrested and charged for allegedly soliciting prostitution in a sting operation earlier this week in Kailua-Kona.

They are: Dennis Fontany, 68, of Kailua-Kona; Taavili Tapu Taylor, 44, of Waikoloa; Christopher John Chipley, 38, of Kailua-Kona; Jason L. Hickman, 32, of Kealakekua; and Vincent Daniel Rice, 49, of Hilo.

Fontany and Taylor were arrested Monday night, and Chipley, Hickman and Rice were nabbed Tuesday night.

All were collared by undercover vice officers at a vacation condominium complex on Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona.

"We want to curb any prostitution-type activities and to deter people from participating in those types of activities," Lt. Sherry Bird, commander of the Kona Vice Section, said Thursday.

Chipley and Rice were also charged with marijuana possession.

In contrast with Honolulu — especially Waikiki, which has a thriving sex trade — visible prostitution and arrests for commercial sexual activities are relatively rare on the Big Island.

The last Big Island prostitution sting that resulted in five or more arrests occurred in Kona in August 2010.

That operation netted five Big Island men and a visitor from Washington state.

Asked if prostitution is an increasing problem in Kona, Bird replied: "No, but we don't want it to become an increasing problem."

Soliciting prostitution is a petty misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory fine of $500 and a jail term of up to 30 days.

A search of court records turned up no convictions for any of the suspects, all of whom have dates with a judge on March 1 in Kona District Court.