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Probation ordered in Cottage Grove man's underage prostitution case in Woodbury sting

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Luis Ponce2 / 2

A Cottage Grove man nabbed in an underage prostitution sting must spend three years on probation.

Luis Angel Ponce, 22, was convicted Jan. 30 of engaging in prostitution with someone who is 16 or 17 years old.

Washington County District Court Judge Gary Schurrer issued a stay of imposition in Ponce's felony case, meaning he will avoid a possible prison sentence if he complies with supervised probation and other conditions. Ponce was ordered to complete three years of probation and 55 days of jail time, to be served through the Sentence to Service work program.

Ponce was among more than a dozen men arrested in an internet-based child exploitation and sex trafficking sting launched in fall 2015 by the Woodbury, Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

According to court records:

Ponce responded by text message to an ad placed by law enforcement on the Backpage website on Sept. 17, 2015. The ad read: "Bring yur fantasies and $$$$ make me smile and we'll make you shivver. Two young naughty girls who have nothing better to do today."

Ponce communicated with an undercover officer about meeting with two girls, ages 15 and 17, and then inquired about conditions of a meeting for sex with the 17-year-old. Ponce agreed to meet at the Red Roof Inn motel in Woodbury.

When Ponce showed up, police confronted him. He tried to run but was apprehended and arrested. He had $100 in his pocket.

In a police interview, Ponce admitted he responded to the Backpage ad and knew the females were 15 and 17.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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