It was dark when the man in the red Jeep Cherokee pulled up to the willowy blonde standing on the shoulder of Pulaski Highway at 68th Street. He was ready to buy and she was ready to sell. But they were both a little wary.
"Are you a cop?" he inquired.
"No, are you?" she snapped.
"No," he said.
Both were lying.
He turned out to be an off-duty state trooper. She turned out to be an on-duty Baltimore County police officer. She was working undercover to arrest men who solicit prostitutes along a section of Pulaski Highway that straddles the city-county line near Rosedale.
Trooper Melvin Fialkewicz Jr. was charged with solicitation. But that wasn't the end of a bad night for the state police -- some of whom were working with county officers.
Ninety minutes later, another off-duty trooper pulled his car onto the shoulder and allegedly made inquiries about financial and sexual arrangements with Carla Rossi -- a county vice and narcotics detective -- who also was posing as a prostitute. Tfc. Gregory Faulcon Jr. was charged with solicitation.
Michael J. McKelvin, state police spokesman, said yesterday that Trooper Faulcon, a four-year veteran assigned to the John F. Kennedy Highway barracks, and Trooper Fialkewicz, a probationary officer from Forestville, were suspended with pay pending an internal investigation and the outcome of their trials.
Col. David B. Mitchell, state police superintendent, would not comment on the April 20 arrests.
The prostitution crackdown along Pulaski Highway has been going on since January 1994 with an aggressive community and police effort, including the shutdown of a motel that was used by prostitutes and was the scene of several shootings. In one shooting, a county police officer was wounded critically by a pimp.
Since the beginning of April, county and city police have been conducting "Operation Sport 40" and have arrested more than 120 men on solicitation and other charges.
But even veterans of the operation were surprised when two troopers wound up among the suspects.
"The prostitutes who work Pulaski Highway are absolutely low-life, sad people," said Baltimore County Officer Sheryl Cindric-Krafft, who has worked the Pulaski Highway decoy detail for more than a year.
"The women we've arrested have been HIV-positive, had open sores from dirty needles, hepatitis," she said. "And if you're a cop, you should know about these things."