SALEM, Mass. — A veteran New Hampshire sports reporter pleaded guilty Friday to running a prostitution business in Massachusetts featuring women who had auditioned for him and to intimidating a witness in an effort to prevent her from testifying against him.
Kevin Provencher was immediately sentenced to state prison on two counts of deriving support from a prostitute, two counts of procuring a person into prostitution, two counts of solicitation for prostitution and one count of witness intimidation, prosecutors said. Each charge carries a penalty ranging from one to 2 1/2 years in prison. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
Provencher was fined $5,000 and placed on probation for one year after his release. He also was ordered to have no contact with the women who worked for him as prostitutes and to forfeit a computer seized by police, according to a statement released by the Essex County District Attorney's Office.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodard said in court that prosecutors had enough evidence to prove that Provencher, 52, set up a website soliciting women to work for an escort service he had established, claiming it was run by women. Two women who responded had sex with him before he hired them, she said.
Provencher, of Manchester, N.H., advertised prostitution services on Craigslist and other websites, prosecutors said.
He performed background checks on prospective customers to make sure they weren't police officers, then would rent hotel rooms and provide the women with contact information for the clients. At the end of the day, the women would give Provencher half the money they earned or would deposit it an account he set up, prosecutors said.
The scheme unraveled about a year later after managers at the Marriott Hotel in Andover, Mass., became suspicious and alerted police, prosecutors said.
Provencher was initially arrested in July 2009 on two counts of deriving support from a prostitute. Prosecutors added witness-intimidation and other charges after he told the women who worked for him as prostitutes that his lawyer would "tear them apart" in the media if they spoke to police.
Provencher worked for the New Hampshire Union Leader for 23 years. He no longer works there.
He could not be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear who his legal representation was.
Provencher has won four New Hampshire Sportswriter of the Year awards from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.