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Forum staff reports, Published November 28 2012

Three arrested in Fargo prostitution sting

FARGO – Police arrested three women in a prostitution sting overnight at a south Fargo hotel.

Lt. Joel Vettel said the women agreed to meet an undercover officer posing as a john at the hotel and were arrested after they allegedly agreed to sexual contact for money.

Tabbatha L. Olson, 22, of Duluth, Minn., Marcia J. Carter, 23, of Fargo, and Larae E. Gehrtz, 20, no permanent address, were arrested on suspicion of prostitution, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The sting took place from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 2 a.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn.

Vettel said there was no prior information about prostitutes operating at the Holiday Inn. The hotel and 26 other hotels and motels in Fargo have agreed to cooperate with law enforcement on the stings to deter prostitution and other crime, he said.

“They’re trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Police responded to escort ads on www.fargo.backpage.com to set up the overnight sting. Vettel said police are seeing an increase locally in escort advertisements and are alarmed by the types of ads.

“Many of these ads are posted by people from outside of our community that are specifically coming here to participate in the business of prostitution,” he said.

Police know that prostitution often is associated with other criminal activity, including illegal drugs and violence, Vettel said.

“We recognize that this is an issue and we need to continue to be proactive,” he said.