Susan Finkelstein has maintained that she was simply a die-hard Phillies fan. And on Tuesday, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania agreed, overturning her infamous attempted-prostitution conviction for trying to trade sex for World Series tickets.
"Obviously, the vindication is a good feeling," Finkelstein, 45, said Tuesday, dressed all in black and sitting next to her lawyer at a news conference in his Center City office. "Although it is bittersweet just to come to a conclusion that we knew from the start, that I did not commit a crime."
A jury found Finkelstein, of West Philadelphia, guilty of the third-degree misdemeanor in March 2010, after clearing her of the more serious charge of prostitution, lodged after she placed a racy Craigslist ad seeking tickets to the 2009 Phillies-Yankees series.
Finkelstein was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service, which she said she completed at historic Pennsbury Manor, dressed as a Quaker, and in working with the nonprofit Philadelphia AIDS Thrift.
In the 11-page opinion, issued Tuesday, the court agreed with Finkelstein's attorney that if she was not guilty of prostitution, she could not be guilty of attempted prostitution.
"The crime of attempt is subsumed in prostitution," the court's finding reads, "and inasmuch as she was acquitted of prostitution, she may not be convicted of attempt."
William J. Brennan, Finkelstein's attorney, said the ruling left him "elated."
"The Superior Court agreed with our argument, and also found that Susan was never, has not, is not, and was not in the business of prostitution."
"Hopefully," Brennan said, "this ends the case." He added: "To spend more tax dollars on this, I think, is ludicrous," although the commonwealth has a right to appeal.
"We will review the opinion," Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Tuesday evening. "It seems to me that it veers from common sense, but I guess that's what courts are for. We will determine if it is appropriate to appeal."
Part of his initial concern, Heckler said, is the lack of precedence, and "whether bad law has been made here."
In the fall of 2009, Finkelstein, then a public-relations specialist at a nonprofit, wrote an online listing that read: "Desperate Blonde Needs WS Tix: Diehard Phillies fan - gorgeous tall buxom blonde in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable - I'm the creative type! - Maybe we can help each other!"
The ad was seen by undercover vice officers in Bensalem. They answered it, and received three photos from Finkelstein showing her topless.
Police then set up a sting in which they met with Finkelstein, posing as ticket holders. They later said that she offered sex acts for tickets. She was arrested.
The Bensalem Public Safety Director called a news conference announcing the arrest, and the news made headlines around the world.
"The court very eloquently, much more so than I could," Brennan said, ruled that Finkelstein was "the embodiment of a girl who is not engaged in the commercial activity of prostitution, but may have consented to illicit private behavior, which is not a crime."
Finkelstein had said she was only trying to flirt her way to discounted tickets.
"It was something that I placed with 30 seconds' worth of forethought," she said of the ad. "It was done for what I thought was kind of a funny, offbeat, creative way to maybe attract attention from somebody who wanted to sell tickets."
As it happens, the case garnered Finkelstein free tickets for two World Series games, from a local radio host and another donor.
"Actually she was offered tickets to each and every game," said Brennan. "But some of the quid pro quo was so outrageous that she decided to take the high road."
"I think my search for tickets will be private from now on," Finkelstein said.
The notoriety also cost her her job, and Finkelstein said she had been unable to find a permanent one. "My name recognition may have played a part in that." She hopes her record will be expunged "so that my name will be cleared."
During the case, her husband, Jack, has been "her rock," a constant source of strength and support. So has baseball. Finkelstein is still an intense Phillies fan.
"I thought maybe all of this would take away baseball from me, that it would be tainted forever," she said. "But baseball's stronger than that."