Mankato man arrested in Rochester prostitution sting pleads not guilty

(ABC 6 News) – A Mankato man charged with engaging in prostitution in a Rochester sting pleaded not guilty Thursday, March 23.

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Justin Daniel Hitt, 29, is the first of six men arrested in November to plead not guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge.

According to court documents, Rochester undercover officers report that they communicated with Hitt remotely while pretending to be a sex worker, negotiated pricing for specific sex acts, and determined that Hitt would pay via Venmo.

When Hitt arrived at the room, according to court documents, officers placed him under arrest and located a box of condoms on his person.

According to court documents, officers claim Hitt confirmed that he was there to pay for sex after seeing the undercover officers’ false ad online.

Three of the accused — Russell Hodge, 46, of Hayfield; David Thorland, 68, of Thompson, Iowa; and Thomas Klees, 44, of Rochester — pleaded guilty and were immediately sentenced to a year’s probation, $1,590 in court fees and fines, and a class on the effects of human trafficking on victims.

RELATED: Two arrested in prostitution sting plead guilty, receive one year probation – ABC 6 News –

RELATED: Third man arrested in Rochester prostitution sting pleads guilty, receives probation – ABC 6 News –

Two more men have not entered pleas.

  • Arnaldo Mercado-Perez, 27, of Rochester will appear for an omnibus hearing April 20.
  • Darryl Franklin, 54, of Rochester will appear for a contested omnibus hearing May 17.

Hitt’s pretrial is scheduled for July 7, with a jury trial July 17.