A Missouri man who said he came to Minneapolis to do some work for a Super Bowl-related event pleaded guilty Tuesday to offering to pay for sex with a minor after he was caught in a police sting.
Justin Beard, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of prostitution of children under 16, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said.
In exchange for his plea, Beard is expected to receive a stay of execution and will serve no prison time if he does not violate probation rules. However, he is also expected to serve four months in the Hennepin County workhouse, the county attorney's office said.
Beard, who is from Branson, Mo., said at the time that he was working for Super Bowl Live, a downtown Minneapolis street festival organized in connection with the game that was being played here. The county attorney's office said they did not know what his job was.
Beard was arrested after he answered a Craigslist ad that had been placed by a sex trafficking task force set up by law enforcement agencies.
Beard texted a phone number placed in the ad, thinking he was texting a man who was trafficking a 15-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, the county attorney's office said.
"But he was actually communicating with undercover agents," the county attorney's office said. As payment for the sex, Beard offered two VIP tickets to a Super Bowl event. When he showed up at a Minnetonka apartment where he was directed to go, he was arrested by police.
"Mr. Beard is an example of how this office and police now deal with commercial sex operations," County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. "Our focus is on the people who are behind the trafficking and [on] sometimes setting up electronic stings targeting people like Mr. Beard who want to go after our children.
"We believe this approach is more effective and humane than going after the sex workers, who we consider to be victims."