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Veterinarian pleads guilty to role in sex trafficking operation

Brian Lee Kersten

A Wisconsin veterinarian has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges involving paying a New York madame a cut from East Coast prostitutes whom he transported to Twin Cities hotels.

He also was allegedly bringing young Chinese girls over to be trafficked at massage parlors.

Brian Lee Kersten's sentencing in Washington County District Court is not scheduled until March, but according to court documents he has agreed to more than four years in prison.

The 61-year-old owner of Baldwin Veterinary Clinic and Pleasant Valley, Wis., resident allegedly transported prostitutes to the Extended Stay hotel in Woodbury, according to the complaint.

Kersten is out in lieu of $100,000 bail. While conditionally released, he is banned from using porn and Backpage.com, his electronics are subject to search, he has an order for no contact with other suspects, and he needs a judge's approval for any travel outside of the U.S.

On July 29, hotel employees called police about a suspicious room renter who matched Kersten's description, and a day later Woodbury police interviewed a second man who admitted to collecting money for the leader of the sex trafficking operation, a 48-year-old New York woman, according to the court complaint.

Woodbury Public Safety's recent investigation led to Eagan and St. Croix County in Wisconsin, where Kersten has owned and operated his private practice for 25 years.

The woman from New York took out ads in Chinese newspapers in Atlanta and New York recruiting women as masseuses. Then she flew them to the Twin Cities, took out online ads, and booked hotel rooms for the women, who received $20 of the $80 they charged for massage services and possibly more, according to the complaint. If sex acts occurred, the women would receive their tip, said the man, identified only as 56-year-old A.M.W.

After paying the woman from New York for sex on several occasions, A.M.W. began collecting money from the prostitutes for her, as did Kersten, the complaint said.

Kersten also made suspicious wire transfers totaling more than $45,000 to China this spring and summer, according to the complaint.

His vehicles — including his golden-yellow truck — visited the airport on Aug. 1, Aug. 20 and Aug. 27, airport police surveillance revealed.

A family member told law enforcement officers from Wisconsin that Kersten visited his prostitute in China and that he was bringing young girls from China to be trafficked at massage parlors, the complaint said.

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