(ANTIMEDIA) Walnut Grove, MN — The police chief of a small Minnesota town was arrested this week on charges of attempting to hire a minor for sex, a felony — ultimately breaking ‘the law’ he has spent years allegedly enforcing.
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Michael Zeug, 45, was arrested in Redwood Falls after soliciting sex with an undercover Department of Homeland Security agent via text message. Zeug contacted the “girl” after seeing an online ad. The officer pretended to be a seventeen-year-old girl who wanted to make extra money, local CBS Minnesota outlet WCCO reported. Zeug appeared to acknowledge the risk, saying ““you’re only 17.” He also said he had done this type of thing before and lied about his profession; he claimed to be a farmer. The Star Tribune reported:
“Zeug arranged a meeting outside a house in Redwood Falls, asked for nude photos and wanted her to flash her breasts to assure him she was not in law enforcement, the charging document read.
“The police chief circled the supposed teen’s home several times and then parked nearby, the complaint said. He was arrested by members of the sting operation.”
Zeug, who is married with children, had his law enforcement radio on him to monitor police channels, according to the official complaint filed in Redwood County District Court.
He faces up to five years in prison for the felony charges and remains in jail with bail set at $50,000.
The arrest was made as part of “Operation Guardian Angel,” which was “conducted by a regional drug task force and a human trafficking task force out of Washington County,” the Tribune noted. The operation also led to the arrest of two other adult men. The Walnut Grove City Council called an emergency meeting Monday evening to determine the fate of Zeug’s position as the town’s police chief, the Star Tribune reported. CBS reports he was suspended without pay.
Redwood County Attorney Steven Collins has said the case will be turned over to neighboring Brown County to avoid a conflict of interest “given that the Walnut Grove Police Department brings cases to the Redwood County attorney’s office for consideration of charges,” the Tribune reported.
Some may argue that was Zeug did was not inherently wrong (outside the moral misdeed of attempting to cheat on his wife). Prostitution is a hotly contested issue in the United States, as is the age of sexual consent. The “girl” was not particularly young and was just on the border of reaching the age of consent.
Regardless, Zeug is a police officer, making his attempts to solicit sex in a manner that was clearly against the law — a felony, at that — a stark indicator of the hypocrisy police officers often display in their efforts to uphold legal dictates. In other more extreme examples, cops have been caught – or at least charged with — soliciting sex from minors and molesting teenagers and young children on numerous occasions.
Nevertheless, Zeug appears to have soiled his reputation and likely lost his job.
“It’s a complete betrayal. I’ve known Mike Zeug for many, many years and have relied on him to bring cases forward from Walnut Grove because we’re the prosecuting authority in Walnut Grove. I was shocked,” Collins said.