A New Brighton City Council member was snared Monday in a St. Paul undercover prostitution sting that resulted in the arrests of eight other men.
Council Member David Phillips, an architect and real estate developer who was elected to the council in November, was cited for engaging in prostitution, a misdemeanor.
When told of Phillips' arrest, Mayor Steve Larson said: "You're innocent until you're proven guilty, but if it's true, I'm totally shocked."
On Tuesday night, Phillips was to attend one of the council's twice-a-month meetings but did not show up. Earlier, he told the Star Tribune he would return a call for comment after 4:30 p.m., but he did not respond to later messages. No one answered the door at his home Tuesday night.
Council colleagues also declined to comment. City Manager Dean Lotter said after Tuesday night's meeting that the city will issue a statement on the matter today.
St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh declined to discuss details of the sting operation, which was conducted in the police department's western district.
Nine men were arrested during the afternoon and evening Monday.
"This is not over yet," Walsh said of the operation. "This is ongoing."
The undercover operation follows a sting conducted on St. Paul's East Side last summer that nabbed johns and prostitutes responding to ads on the craigslist.org website.
During that operation, police arrested Tim Droogsma, a press secretary to former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, who initially called his arrest a "severe misunderstanding" but who ultimately pleaded guilty last month to an engaging-in-prostitution charge.
Phillips, 58, meets the demographic profile of many of the men arrested during the undercover stings last year and again this month. Of the nine arrested in St. Paul Monday, six were suburban residents in their 40s, 50s or 60s, police and jail records show.
According to Ramsey County jail records, Phillips was booked about 5 p.m. and released on his own recognizance at 9:30 p.m. Monday.
He was the top New Brighton council vote-getter during an election that saw redevelopment of the city's Northwest Quadrant become a major campaign issue.
Asked if the council had a code of ethics or conduct policy that the offense might fall under, City Attorney Charlie LeFevere said that he did not believe so.
Star Tribune staff writer Eric M. Hanson contributed to this report. Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545