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Two charged in Montevideo prostitution sting

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — Authorities have charged two men with prostitution in a public place, a gross misdemeanor, after a Dec. 15 sting operation by the Montevideo Police Department.

Paul Michael Jerve, 34, of Montevideo, and Rodney Lee Bellefeuille, 30, of Dawson, Minn., were charged Tuesday in Chippewa County District Court. Both were initially booked into the Chippewa County Jail and then released.

According to the criminal complaint on the charges, the Montevideo Police Department placed ads on Craigslist as part of the undercover operation.

Police received over 29 initial inquiries about the ads, according to a news release, including seven inquiring about sex with a minor.

In separate text responses, Jerve and Bellefeuille allegedly offered $40 and $50, respectively, in exchange for sex with an adult woman.

A Montevideo police officer set up video surveillance at a Montevideo hotel on U.S. Highway 212 West. Then, she arranged separately with both Jerve and Bellefeuille to meet her at the hotel.

According to the criminal complaint, Jerve allegedly arrived at the hotel and knocked on the door. When he came inside the room, the police officer asked him if he was still OK with $40. He allegedly said yes.

The officer then arrested him.

Bellefeuille also arrived at the same hotel, according to the criminal complaint. Before he went to the room, he allegedly requested to see the woman he believed he was meeting in the window.

Then, he came to the door, knocked, and went inside. Again, the police officer asked Bellefeuille if he would pay $50. He allegedly responded that he would.

Bellefeuille was then arrested, according to the criminal complaint.

Police interviewed both men at the Chippewa County Jail. Both Jerve and Bellefeuille allegedly admitted to driving to the hotel to pay for sex.

Jerve told a Montevideo officer that this was the first time he had ever agreed to pay for sex, saying he was a single guy who was "feeling lonely" and "looking for company," according to the criminal complaint.

Bellefeuille allegedly told officers that he had posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a "friend with benefits" and agreed to meet in Montevideo for sex in exchange for a $50 "donation."

He also told police that he has met up with other women in the past because of his ad, but this was the first time that money was exchanged, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities seized the vehicles of both men. Bellefeuille was also charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, as well as a petty misdemeanor for possessing a small amount of marijuana, after a small bag of marijuana was allegedly located in his vehicle.

Jerve and Bellefeuille are no longer in custody. Their next court appearances in Chippewa County are set for Feb. 13.