WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 07, 2012, 07:09 PM

Three arrested in Fargo prostitution sting

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A Fargo Police/Cass County Sheriff's Department sting in the metro area has left three women facing prostitution charges.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

A Fargo Police/Cass County Sheriff's Department sting in the metro area has left three women facing prostitution charges.

Heather Mattson, Kimberly Lyles and Wendy Jojola listed phone numbers in escort advertisements in The Forum and a website. They agreed to meet with an undercover cop to engage in sex for money

Lt. Pat Claus – Deputy Chief – Fargo Police: “It has a direct impact on our quality of life.”

Fargo Police Investigators say the evidence is clear and convincing that prostitution, even in a low crime area like Fargo Moorhead, leads to big problems.

Lt. Pay Claus: “We’ve linked prostitution to extortion, robbery, home invasion theft and sexual assault against the actual “performers” if you will.”

Fargo undercover police contacted exotic dancers from the classifieds in the newspaper and on the website. The dancers agreed to have sex with the men who were actually law enforcement officers.

Lt. Pat Claus: “We continue to focus on this problem because we continue to see links to crime. We see links to metro areas; we’re having folks come up out of Minneapolis and Chicago and set up business here. They bring their own issues with them to our community.”

One of the women arrested was an exotic dancer featured in The Forum. In the piece, she said she's never let the legal activity of dancing overlap into something illegal. Quote - "I’ll do a nude show, nothing more than that.”

But in this human drama that is exotic dancing and now a prostitution sting, there is a new player on the stage - The Forum Newspaper, which accepts money for the advertisements from the exotic dancing.

Lt. Pat Claus: “We talk to undercover officers and the officer made reference, ‘Aren’t you here to dance?’ or something like that. Her answer was, ‘Sweetheart, I don’t dance.’

James Boberg – The Forum General Manager: “We know there are exotic dancers and they are there to dance and perform, but, again, we do not know which ones do other things. We just don’t know who they are.”

The Forum General manager James Boberg says there are no plans to stop taking ads from exotic dancers.

James Boberg: “In the business we are in that is the line we draw. We can’t monitor everything that happens.”

Right now there is no way to determine who is dancing and who is not.

James Boberg: “Whatever happens between the two parties happens between the two parties. We don’t know; we’re out of the game at that point.”

Lt. Pat Claus: “I don’t think you can with a straight face tell the public that you don't know what the advertising is being used for it. If you choose to do it, that is a business decision. They’re not engaged unlawfully.”

Area motels and hotels are cooperating with police to allow the stings, all in an effort to stop, just not prostitution, but the trouble that comes along with the centuries old profession.

Two of the three women have bailed out of jail tonight. WDAY is owned by Forum Communications.