One Walmart Supercenter in Norman, Oklahoma lists a pharmacy, grocery, garden department, tire & lube facility, and a photo center as part of its store services. A local sting operation revealed another, unauthorized service being offered — prostitution.
Posing as a store greeter, retired school counselor Marvin Reading, 67, of nearby Weatherford, was arrested last week and formally charged with “false representation, tresspassing, public lewdness, pandering, and commercial sex solicitation.”
“I came into the store,” said Dottie Forbes, regular customer at the supercenter, “and this man hands me a card and says ‘Welcome to Walmart.’ It was strange, because I thought Walmart got rid of all the greeters some time ago.”
The multinational retail chain, which has become synonymous with bargain prices, had in fact, ended its store greeter program in 2012.
“The card had his name and number on it,” recalled Forbes. “‘Turn the card over,’ he told me, and when I did, I saw all these things written down with numbers there on the back. I thought it was for the daily store specials and I said ‘thank you’ and didn’t think anything about it, so I put the card down in my bag because I had to get things for my grandson’s birthday. I had lots to do that day and was running late.”
It wasn’t until after the grandmother of 3 returned home, that she took a closer look at the card that Reading had given her. “It had all sorts of words there, things I’d never heard of before and didn’t know what they meant until I went on the Internet to look them up. I became disgusted!” Mrs. Forbes returned to the store and demanded to speak to the manager.
Supercenter manager Travis Andrews met with Forbes. “She was really upset and said she felt disgusted. I don’t blame her because some of the things [Reading] wrote down there were inappropriate for an older person. He had things there like “Cleveland Steamer” and “North Pole” written on the card, with a price list for each thing, and a room number and address to the motel where he was staying. I didn’t know what to do since I didn’t see him at the store, so I called the police,” Andrews recalled.
Plainclothes officer Marie Tilford made the arrest after Reading “greeted” her with another highly personalized card the following day. “I think he must have gotten wind of something, because that first day I showed up he didn’t come in. He was pretty bold, I’ll give him that much, because the next day he came back wearing a blue vest and sunglasses, and that’s when we got him.”
“I was desperate for some extra money,” said Reading. “I couldn’t get by on just my social security because of the economy and that’s the thing I decided to do. It worked once before when I was near a shopping mall in Oak City, so I thought out here would be safer. Not so many police and such, and lots of older ladies who might want some companionship.”
A statement released by Walmart regarding the incident read in part:
“Management was made aware of an event in which an individual unaffiliated with Walmart was arrested for illegal activities which go against the traditional values that Walmart represents. Walmart is fully cooperating with authorities.”
Reading was taken to a local prison where he awaits transfer to Parker County Jail.