Teacher, husband are accused of operating prostitution business in downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Landmark Building in downtown has had its share of history in the more than 100 years since it was built.  The structure has another story to add to its name after a husband and wife were accused of operating the oldest profession in the world on the third floor.

Mark and Laura Fiedler were charged on Monday afternoon with promoting prostitution.  Laura Fiedler is a third grade teacher in the Springfield School District who has been on paid administrative leave since the case blew open about a year ago.

In February 2010, some of the tenants noticed something was up inside the historic building.

"I came in after hours one day, and the girl who was in the foyer was waiting right at the door, and when I came in the door she said, 'Hello.  Scott?'" said Grady Cooper. 

Cooper was not there to meet the woman; he was going to his office inside the Landmark.

Tips from tenants and building employees led undercover detectives to set up surveillance.

"Word sent around from the property manager that we were not to talk to them or tip them off or anything, so they could do their surveillance," said Cooper.

The probable cause statement that's the basis of the charges against the Fiedlers says detectives found that the business advertised on a website called backpage.com under the adult category.  That was where an officer contacted the business, established what was offered and at what price.  A meeting was set up at the building and the cops made their move.

Now the Fiedlers are charged with felonies.

"He's charged essentially with managing the prostitution business, whereas she's charged with assistance in that business," said Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.

Tenants said they haven't seen any unusual activity in the building since the bust last February.

"We don't see people hanging around in the lobby anymore, so it's back to business as usual here at the Landmark," said Cooper.

The prosecutor said it took a year to file charges because of the nature of the investigation.

"Much of the case is built upon records, phone records, and other records that have to be obtained from companies.  It takes them awhile to generate those documents, to provide them to law enforcement, and then for law enforcement to take the time to analyze those documents," said Patterson.

If they're convicted, Mark Fiedler could get a prison sentence up to seven years.  Laura Fiedler could get a prison sentence up to four years.  A judge could also order fines up to $5,000 or, if the judge found they made money from prostitution, could order fines as much as double of their profits, up to $20,000, 

A judge issued warrants for their arrests.  The Fiedlers were not in the Greene County jail on Monday.

Another woman connected with the case, Kayla Yong, was also charged on Monday with misdemeanor prostitution.  If she's convicted, Yong could get a county jail sentence up to six months and/or a fine up to $500.

Information in search warrant documents show police believe up to five women were working as prostitutes at the building. 

Probable cause statements used as the basis of the charges show Laura Fielder told detectives that she didn't know her husband was operating a prostitution service.  She said she picked up money at the Landmark Building up to five times but she thought it was his fee for setting up massage appointments.

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