Manhattan's top cop has promised gay activists his office will investigate a rash of suspicious arrests that have taken place in video shops against gay and bisexual men, reports gay weekly Gay City News, the first paper to write about the cases.

The arrests of over 50 gay men charged with prostitution in seven Manhattan porn shops since 2004 sparked outrage in the gay community because the profiles of the men arrested do not match what usually passes for a hustler in the Big Apple.

52-year-old Robert Pinter was collared outside the Blue Door Video on First Avenue in the East Village on October 10, 2008. He says that while in the video store he was approached for sex by a handsome young Asian man. They agreed to have oral sex in a parked car. On the way to the car, the man, who was an undercover police officer, said, “Oh, I want to pay you $50 to suck your dick.” Pinter says he was interested in the blow job, not the money, and ignored the comment.

“This guy was half my age,” he said. “It was my lucky day. I also though, 'How unusual, in Manhattan, to have sex in a car.'”

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who at 90 will retire this year, has agreed to investigate at least 30 of the cases, activists who met with him reported.

“The first thing Morgenthau said was, 'We are going to investigate all these cases,'” said Joey Nelson, coordinator for the Queer Justice League and a member of the Coalition to Stop the Arrests. “That was the first thing out of his mouth.”

Members of the Coalition to Stop the Arrests, a group founded by Pinter, protested the arrests outside the home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month.

The city has sued six of the video shops where gay men have been arrested on questionable prostitution charges. Video, Video, Video at 488 Eight Avenue at West 34th Street was sued by the city in 2007 after 21 men were arrested between 2004 and 2007.

After the city successfully closed the store, the building was sold for $12.3 million and is now being redeveloped by the Vornado Realty Trust Company.

The meeting between gay activists and the district attorney was convened by openly gay state Senator Thomas K. Duane, who has previously called the arrests “harassment.”

Activists said Morgenthau is considering dropping the charges against five men who pleaded not guilty. But he said men who pleaded guilty or no contest would need to step forward on their own.

On the Net: Gay City News has reported extensively about the arrests