11 Eau Claire-area men arrested in prostitution bust

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Police arrested 11 men for pandering as part of a prostitution sting operation in Eau Claire.

Police said the men, ranging from 29 to 72 years old, and mostly from the Eau Claire area, responded to an advertisement on Backpage.com and came to the Rodeway Inn and Suites, offering a woman, money for sex.

"Our goal is to stop and to curb prostitution and human trafficking in Eau Claire. Our effort is multi-faceted, it includes training staff at area hotels to recognize specific behavior," Lt. Matt Rokus with the Eau Claire Police Department said.

Christina Burton, manager at Broadway Pizza in Eau Claire, said she'd seen suspicious activity in the next door parking lot at the Rodeway Inn and Suites.

"You could see things going on, at all hours of the day ... You saw more traffic over there than what was typical sometimes," Burton said.

New Rodeway hotel management said it had a stigma of seeming run down, but helped police with a prostitution sting operation, in hopes of making a positive change. Police said no particular instance prompted them to ask for help from the Rodeway Inn and Suites.

Burton said the bust could keep criminals out of the area, and benefit businesses and the community as a whole.

"What goes on over there ultimately affects us. So making that place a better place to stay, will make us look better to, being that people put us in the same category," she said.

"Prostitution and human trafficking pose significant issues to our community. There's important safety issues; robbery, drug activity, public health issues are often related to it," Rokus said.

"More people will want to come to the area, be more active in the community because those people won't be around," Burton said.

Police arrested the men for pandering, a misdemeanor, and they were released. Rokus said they have court appearances set for May 7.


(RELEASE FROM EAU CLAIRE POLICE DEPT.)--During the past several months, the Eau Claire Police Department, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) have worked collaboratively to combat prostitution in our community.

On April 9, 2013, law enforcement worked in cooperation with the Rodeway Inn and Suites located at 1828 South Hastings Way regarding this proactive effort.

The following individuals were arrested for the crime of Pandering after they answered Internet-based advertisements, offering to pay money in exchange for sexual gratification:

Ryan F. Sullivan
Eau Claire, WI

Edilberto G. Castrejon
Oakdale, MN

Marek Szczepanik
Oak Lawn, IL

Steven S. Idso
Chippewa Falls, WI

Scott D. Burtness
Chippewa Falls, WI

Tommy J. Klatt
Chippewa Falls, WI

Frederick L. Williams
Eau Claire, WI

Shawn M. Fisher
Trego, WI

Scott A. Buttke
Altoona, WI

John J. Seibel
Bloomer, WI

Dennis J. Meinen
Bloomer, WI

Wisconsin state statute describes Pandering (944.33) as: Solicitation of another to have non-marital sexual intercourse or to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private.

Prostitution poses significant public health, safety and quality of life issues. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, robbery and other serious crimes are often related to this activity. The investigation into prostitution activity is ongoing and more arrests may occur.

The Rodeway Inn and Suites is an important partner with law enforcement in this ongoing effort. The Eau Claire Police Department, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office, and DCI are appreciative of the Rodeway Inn and Suites’ cooperation in this matter.

If you have any information related to this investigation, you are encouraged to contact the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division at 715-839-4978.

WEAU 13 NEWS 1907 S. Hastings Way Eau Claire, WI 54701 By Phone: Main Number (715) 835-1313 and (715) 832-3474. Tip Line (715) 839-WEAU - (715) 839-9328 Sports Line (715) 852-1537
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