Convicted pimp Barry Manthe says a recent documentary alleging he received police protection in exchange for drug tips is completely false.
The video's producers, in response, said police reports and the witness testimony used as the basis for the film speak volumes for the case they present.
Manthe consented to an interview Wednesday with the Tribune, two days after U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough ordered him to report to prison by April 15 to serve an 18-month sentence for using the internet to promote prostitution. He will also have to serve 36-months probation following his release. Manthe, who has been arrested thrice in his lifetime on local prostitution-related charges but only now faces prison, says the sentence is one he can live with.
“Yeah, that was more than fair,” Manthe said. “The only reason I got that sentence is because one of the victims showed up and made an emotional plea before the judge.”
On Wednesday, Manthe was less concerned with prison and more concerned with a documentary by police accountability group Citizens for Justice titled “Police Protected Pimp.” He said the documentary was created because producer Matt Akins, and a local attorney who assisted with the film, Stephen Wyse, had an agenda over numerous run-ins with Columbia police as Akins filmed their activities throughout the years.
“It was all BS,” Manthe said of the video. “I didn't even know 80 percent of the cops in the video. They busted me. They helped the FBI bust me. They arrested me in 2014 and they were high-fiving each other when they busted me. That video was complete misinformation, it was so stupid. The accusation that the police protected me is erroneous.”
Akins said Manthe’s claims about the video being false were laughable and hundreds of pages of police reports, as well as interviews in the video with multiple sex workers who knew Manthe well speak for themselves.
“They (sex workers) all tell a similar story about Barry Manthe,” Akins said. “This is a group of people who know Barry Manthe personally, who have been around him, who have worked around him, who have told this story. He can make whatever claims he wants to make, but there are police reports where officers are openly talking about how Barry Manthe is involved in prostitution.
“There are police coming to the brothel and arresting people, but Barry never goes to jail in those situations.”
His other arrests, as well as multiple stops and searches by Columbia police, prove the claims in the documentary are false, Manthe said. He said while he often called police to report drug activity because he was having problems with dealers hanging around the brothel on Vandiver Drive, he was not an informant as the video implies.
“Our biggest problem was drug dealers coming around the house,” Manthe said. “I let them know I was cooperating with police, to keep them away, because they just kept coming around and coming around the house. I would tell them I gave their license plates to the cops.”
Akins linked Manthe’s statements to an episode of “World's Dumbest Criminals.” He questioned whether a pimp can call police to report drug activity at his house without worrying about being arrested.
“Not in Barry Manthe's case,” Akins said. “Barry calls numerous times to have drug dealers and prostitutes arrested and kicked out of his house. None of these calls result in Barry's arrest or even any real investigation into Barry's prostitution and drug operation. That's not how police normally deal with criminals.”
Wyse also disputed Manthe’s claims. He said many times when Manthe was stopped by police, the women with him would be arrested while Manthe was allowed to go free. Other times, Wyse said, Manthe set up drug deals to have both the prostitute and the dealer arrested.
“That’s part of the documentary,” Wyse said. “He would bring them out in a traffic stop so they would be easier to arrest. Frankly, there were some times when he would take a girl to a drug dealer to get her drugs, and then have her arrested, and then they would go get the drug dealer. Barry claiming he wasn’t an informer for the Columbia Police Department would be ludicrous.
“The police reports didn’t say Barry was a snitch, but the actions taken by the police department when they had more than enough cause indicates there was something going on.”
Manthe offered an apology to the officers in the documentary, saying he knew very few of them.
“I want to apologize to all the police officers that were defamed in the video,” Manthe said. “I didn't know most of them, I didn't know 80 percent of them in the video, I’m going who is this guy. I don't know where they get these things from, but that video was a bunch of misinformation designed to make the police look bad.”
Wyse said Manthe is a skilled “chess-player” who often praised police and pitched himself as a law enforcement supporter. Manthe once wrote a letter to the editor of this newspaper praising police after they respond to an armed robbery at the brothel.
“Barry understands the politics of this,” Wyse said. “Barry is a chess player and these are long-term moves. I think when Barry gets back out he is hoping he will have mended his relationship with the Columbia Police Department to some degree so he can resume operations."
Manthe admitted on Wednesday he did for years profit from prostitution. He also said his days of criminal activity are over.
“I was done before they busted us,” Manthe said. “I was mentally done before that. I will never do this again. I've tried really hard in the last two years to turn my life around. I volunteered at the senior center and I have been working for two years.”