(CBS/WCBS/AP) MADISON, N.J. - Dr. David Flory, a longtime Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor, has been arrested in New Mexico and accused of operating a high-tech, internet-based prostitution ring.
Flory, who owned a vacation home in Santa Fe, was arrested Sunday in Albuquerque on 40 counts of promoting prostitution. Police said Flory was caught as he logged on to the Southwest Companions website in a Starbucks, reports CBS station WCBS.
The 68-year-old apparently did most of his work from his Manhattan apartment and seemed shocked when authorities caught up to him.
"He built in several layers to protect himself," Albuquerque Police Lt. William Roseman said, reports the station. "He was surprised, very surprised, probably because we knew where he was at."
Roseman said the site had been in operation about three years and had about 1,400 members - about 200 prostitutes and about 1,200 johns. The prostitutes were paid between $80 and $850 for their services, according to the criminal complaint.
Roseman says Flory told police he did not make money off of the website and saw it as a hobby in an effort to safely hook men up with women
Police said men had to sleep with a prostitute to gain access to the password-protected website. Once they were in, members could choose from over 200 prostitutes, get counter-intelligence on police and even legal advice if they were caught, WCBS reports.
"He set this website up so that guys and prostitutes could get together without worrying about law enforcement," Roseman said.
Since the website was a word-of-mouth operation, police became aware of it after arresting suspected prostitutes.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University spokeswoman says the school was saddened by the arrest, but did not say if the professor has been suspended from his job.
Flory, an Ivy League-educated and well-respected professor for over four decades, teaches at the school's Teaneck, N.J. campus. He has taught at Fairleigh Dickinson since 1969 and has been a physics professor there since 1980, according to his website. He also has served as director of FDU's School of Natural Sciences.
Flory has two daughters and a stepdaughter, four grandchildren, and a wife who works as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders.