"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Friday, August 07, 2009

Jesters Sentenced in Prostitution Case

Not to unduly drag this story back out into the light, but the Associated Press and several New York papers are reporting it today.

From today's Niagara Gazette:

Ronald H. Tills, 74, of Hamburg, was sentenced Friday in federal court to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty last year to transporting prostitutes across state lines.

Tills is the third man to be sentenced in connection with a federal prostitution sting involving local massage parlors.

Two other defendants — retired Lockport Police Captain John Trowbridge, 62, and Tills' former law clerk, Michael Stebick, 61 — had previously been sentenced.

Trowbridge received two years’ probation, and Stebick was given four months home confinement.

The men were all members of the Royal Order of Jesters, an international fraternal society.

Tills admitted last September to violating the Mann Act by transporting prostitutes across state lines. Trowbridge pleaded guilty to transporting the woman, an illegal alien identified in court papers as “Jane Doe No. 1,” to Kentucky, to engage in prostitution with members of the Royal Order of Jesters.

As part of his plea, Tills admitted to five additional occasions of transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution.

Allegations of prostitution led the Western District’s Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance to conduct raids on four massage parlors in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield and Tonawanda in December 2007.

The women working at the massage parlors were illegal aliens from Asia. Nine women were rescued from the parlors, where investigators said they were being held as virtual captives.

The Buffalo News goes on to report:

So far, no charges have been filed against anyone outside the Buffalo chapter.

In May, a national spokesman for the Jesters told The Buffalo News that the presence of prostitutes at Jesters gatherings is something that only the Buffalo chapter engaged in, adding that such conduct is never condoned by the national leadership.

The all-male organization — which is a division of the Freemasons — has 191 chapters with 22,000 members, mostly in the United States. The fraternal group's members have included two U.S. presidents, politicians, entertainment figures and prominent businessmen.

Some former Jesters told The News that many Jesters chapters have engaged in wild parties with prostitutes for decades.

Tills, who previously served as a member of the State Assembly, was known by colleagues and defense attorneys as one of the region's toughest sentencing judges before he retired from his job as a state judge in 2005.


  1. The all-male organization — which is a division of the Freemasons — has 191 chapters with 22,000 members, mostly in the United States.

    Argh! It is not a division of the Freemasons. This makes it sound like all of us (even those of us outside the US and those who are not Jesters) are part of this group.

    Bro. Chris Hansen, SW, Goliath Lodge #5595 UGLE

  2. I am shocked - SHOCKED! - that a news person would make such an error. But then again, the Jesters' official website says right there in its title bar "Royal Order of jesters - Masons, Shriners, Masonic Lodges, Grand Lodges." And it goes on to say,

    "The Royal Order of Jesters proudly believe and participate in Masonry.

    Whereas most Masonic bodies are dedicated to charity, The Royal Order of Jesters is a fun "degree," with absolutely no serious intent."

  3. I am shocked - SHOCKED! - that a news person would make such an error.

    Sarcasm, sarcasm...the devil's weapon!

    The only time I was ever quoted in a newspaper (the New York Times, no less), they got it wrong. I thus rarely believe anything I read in the newspapers.

    I guess I should be relieved that the Jesters don't seem to have penetrated England and Wales.


    (The Shriners are trying to raise an organisation here but I haven't heard anything much about it for a year or so...I would welcome them and join them if UGLE doesn't object but as we have a National Health Service here the usual Shriner charities of hospitals probably won't fly here so I'll be interested to see what they put forward as their charitable objective.)

    Bro. Chris Hansen

  4. Generalisations about the comprehension abilities of newspeople are about as accurate as generalisations about Masons. Or anything else.


  5. Very sad, but not surprised. No longer do I automatically trust someone's values based upon their affiliation. It would be the same as judging a book by its cover, to use a cliche.


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