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Woman gets probation for prostitution

Saturday, May 10, 2003

By Torsten Ove, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Raised by a schizophrenic mother who killed herself in 1995, Kathleen Ann Pustay descended into mental illness herself shortly after the suicide, and eventually found herself involved in a cross-country prostitution ring to make a little money.

She ended up indicted with more than a dozen other women as part of a federal investigation of The Circuit, a call girl network based in New Orleans with operations in Pittsburgh, Boston, Atlanta, New York and Chicago.

But she was only a bit player in the enterprise, it turns out, and yesterday a federal judge gave her a light sentence of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Pustay, 36, of the North Side, who last December created a stir when she barricaded herself in the Florida home of Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein, told U.S. District Judge David Cercone that she's been publicly embarrassed by the case and just wants to get on with life.

She plans to move to California and attend UCLA.

"I want a chance to do something positive and worthwhile with my life," she said.

Cercone could have given her a prison term, but he granted a motion for a lesser sentence because of her "minimal role" in the call girl ring. Although she did work as a $250-an-hour hooker in a New Orleans brothel, she apparently did it only once after being recruited by Louisiana madam Jeannette Maier.

Pustay, a North Hills native, was arrested last year with 13 other women on federal prostitution charges. The ring was associated with another call girl operation whose members were indicted in Miami.

Authorities said two other local women, Darlene Washington of Mount Washington and Paula Cherish of Arnold, also were involved in The Circuit.

Pustay and the others were caught after federal agents secured wiretaps on Maier's phones in New Orleans.

Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.

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