Regional GM of Superior newspaper group leaves company after prostitution convictionTodd Keute, 49, pleaded guilty to a charge of prostitution in a public place after being arrested in November in a sting operation at a Duluth motel.
By: Bill Hanna, Mesabi Daily News
Todd Keute, regional general manager for the Superior newspaper group of American Consolidated Media, has left the company.
The Irving, Texas-based corporation provided the following statement on Tuesday: “We would like to thank Todd for his years of service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Keute pleaded guilty to a charge of prostitution in a public place after being arrested in November in a sting operation at a Duluth motel. He was charged with a gross misdemeanor, and was sentenced May 15 to one year probation, fined $1,500 plus $85 in surcharges and ordered to complete the “Breaking Free” educational program. Breaking Free is a Minnesota nonprofit providing services and resources to prostituted and exploited women and girls.
“I deeply regret my lapse of judgment and am sorry for my actions,” Keute told the News Tribune on May 21.
According to the criminal complaint:
The Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force advertised prostitution services on a website on Nov. 8. The ad read: “Put me ur TO DO list, sexy blonde, 22.”
The ad was posted on the website backpage.com in the escort section. Among the callers responding to the ad was Keute.
The woman, who is described in the complaint as a “cooperating individual,” told Keute the cost for “full service” would be $75. After receiving a second call from the defendant, the woman gave him the motel and room number where she would meet him.
When he arrived at the motel, Keute told the woman what he wanted to do. He placed $75 on a night stand. The woman told him that she needed to go into the bathroom and freshen up. Keute is accused of grabbing the woman and placing his hands inside her shirt and grabbing her breasts.
Investigators then entered the room, identified themselves as police officers and took Keute into custody.
Along with serving as regional general manager of the Superior Publishing Corp., Keute also was publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald-Review. Superior Publishing Corp. has nine operating publications spread across Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, including the Mesabi Daily News. The 49-year-old also is a former publisher of the then-Superior Daily Telegram and former vice president of administration at the News Tribune.
Scott Wright, chief operating officer of American Consolidated Media, will be leading the overall operations of Superior Publishing Corp. until a replacement for Keute is named.
American Consolidated Media publishes approximately 100 local newspapers, which serve 18 geographic regions across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware, with a total readership population of more than 2.6 million people.
Bill Hanna is the executive editor of the Mesabi Daily News in Virginia. News Tribune staff writer Mark Stodghill contributed to this report.