Two face charges after soliciting prostitutes
Two men nabbed during a six-week prostitution sting conducted by local authorities made initial appearances earlier this month in Douglas County Circuit Court last week.
Neil Robert Erickson, 36, of Wrenshall and Jared John Fiege, 26, of Duluth each face a single misdemeanor count of prostitution-sexual contact.
The two men made initial appearances in court Jan. 8.
Erickson pleaded guilty; Fiege pleaded not guilty. They were released on separate $500 signature bonds. Their next court appearances are slated for Jan. 29.
The investigation, conducted by the Superior Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Duluth Police Department and Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force focused crimes associated with human trafficking, including prostitution and patronizing and solicitation of prostitutes.
According to the criminal complaints:
Erickson and Fiege responded to Backpage.com ads placed by investigators in November. An undercover female police officer posed as a prostitute and texted back and forth with the men to discuss rates and arrange “in call” meetings at a Superior hotel. Both men were arrested at the hotel where the meetings had been arranged.
Fiege questioned whether the officer was a cop because she was older than the late teens to early 20s girls he to which he was accustom. Erickson, when arrested, told officers he had responded to three other Backpage ads prior to the sting.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of up to nine months imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.
Nationwide the issue of human trafficking has been getting greater attention. Many of those engaged in prostitution are not doing so voluntarily, according to Superior Deputy Chief Nick Alexander. Someone may be forcing them into these activities by withholding money, drugs or perhaps threatening to take away food and shelter. In other cases, there is a threat or use of physical. Enforcing the prostitution and solicitation laws is just one way to help reduce the instances of human trafficking in our communities, the deputy chief said.
Two women and seven men were arrested as a result of the sting, according to Alexander. In addition, information developed during the investigation led to a search warrant and arrest of Douglas County resident Charles David Sislo, 39. He was charged with drug and financial crimes as well as two counts for soliciting a prostitute.