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Pimp allegedly tries to sell sex at Cottage Grove Walgreen's

What turned out to be some of the parting messages on the escort section of Backpage.com turned into pimping charges against a man who peddled sex in Washington County.

On Jan. 9, Washington County Sheriff's Office found among the website's last escort advertisements, a now-defunct section of the website, a message pointing to Cottage Grove: "Lady freeze has the whole city on thin ice. Luck the Kat is close by."

Allegedly the man who took out the ad, Maurice Leander Briggs, 41, has been charged with promoting prostitution of an individual, a felony, and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail with conditions or $300,000 bail without conditions. Previously, he had been arrested for sex trafficking in Nebraska, according to the criminal complaint.

Briggs, who has no permanent address, is accused of setting up so-called dates at a Cottage Grove hotel, according to the complaint. The victim was provided resources from law enforcement but decided not to remove herself from the situation. She was not arrested nor charged, as is the policy of the Washington County Sex Trafficking Coalition.

On Jan. 10, an undercover officer responded to the online ad, arranging to meet a 23-year-old woman at the Walgreen's in Cottage Grove and to exchange money for sex acts.

Briggs, unbeknownst to law enforcement, was present at Walgreen's, closely monitoring vehicles coming into the parking lot.

Once the woman entered the officer's car, the officer noticed she didn't have a cellphone or other device capable of two-way communication, the complaint said, but the officer had been communicating with someone via text message until moments before the woman arrive. So another individual must have been doing the text messaging, the officer concluded.

The officer identified himself to the victim.

The woman said she gave her cellphone to an individual named MandM prior to exiting Walgreen's. The officer drove her to her desired location.

On Jan. 12, an officer text messaged the phone number, again arranging to exchange money for sex acts. The woman met an undercover officer at a SuperAmerica in St. Paul.

To ensure the woman's safety, she was wearing a Bluetooth earpiece connected to a cellphone she was carrying. That way another individual, unnamed in the complaint, could hear any of the victim's conversations or interactions.

A hotel registration check showed where Briggs had rented a motel room, and while a search warrant was being drafted he came out of the room and got arrested. A search of the room revealed two cellphones, condoms and a sex trafficking ledger, according to the complaint.

"The ledger contained numerous phone number entries described as tricks," an officer wrote in the complaint. "The ledger was titled 'Hustle hard or go home,' and the first page state that the ledger was given to the owner by 'daddi.'"

Personal information belonging to the victim and defendant was kept in the ledger, the complaint said.

One of the phones, described by the victim Jan. 10, contained the text messages from the undercover officer in response to the online ads.

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