Durham attorney, poker player charged with soliciting prostitution

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 06:12 PM

Durham attorney Christopher Shella was arrested by the Wake Forest Police Department Wednesday for solicitation for prostitution during a sting operation at a Wake Forest hotel.

During the police operation, Wake Forest police officers charged five additional men with solicitation for prostitution, including Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 48, of Raleigh. Raymer was also charged with soliciting a crime against nature.

Raymer is well known in the poker world for winning the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Shella previously served as Crystal Mangum’s attorney, but withdrew last spring after she passed on documents and other confidential information to other people, who then filed motions on her behalf without Shella’s knowledge.

Shella ran unsuccessfully in 2010 to be a superior court judge in Durham County, and he is the author of two books: “Grinding It Out: How To Create A Six-Figure-Law Practice” and “Reasonable Facsimile.”

Shella, who is listed as the managing director of Shella, Harris & Aus, PC., a law firm in Durham, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The arrest sheet states at 4:08 p.m. Wednesday, Christopher Burell Shella, 41, of Vintage Hill Drive, Durham, was charged with solicit for prostitution on Retail Drive, Wake Forest.

A magistrate set his bond at $1,000 after an officer transported him to the Wake County Detention Center for processing.

The operation began when an undercover officer posted an advertisement on backpage.com, a website often used by prostitutes, said Bill Crabtree, public information officer for the town of Wake Forest.

The men who responded to the ad expected to meet a female prostitute at the Candlewood Suites on Retail Drive, Crabtree said. They were arrested when they solicited an undercover officer in a room at the hotel, Crabtree said.

The Wake Forest police asked Candlewood Suites if it could conduct an operation there, and the hotel voluntarily cooperated, Crabtree said. The hotel was chosen at random and not because it had any history or problems of prostitutes using its rooms, Crabtree said.

“The locations prostitutes choose for this type of criminal activity vary and seldom remain the same for more than a couple of days at a time, which makes enforcement difficult, Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard said in a written statement.

No hotel guests were at risk during the operation and no prostitutes were at the hotel premises.

In addition to Shella and Raymer, police charged Kevin Scott Konarzewski, 47, of Wake Forest; Barrett Lee Bennett, 43, of Durham; Robert Hancock, 41 of Wake Forest; and Gerald Wayne Barham, 58, of Wake Forest.