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Deputy MN commerce commissioner arrested in prostitution sting

His job at the commerce department has ended.

A deputy commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Commerce is out of a job following a prostitution sting at a St. Paul hotel.

Michael Shane Deal, 46, was among five men arrested Tuesday on suspicion of soliciting prostitution, which is a gross misdemeanor, the police report shows.

He has not been charged with a crime.

Deal was the Deputy Commissioner of the Financial Institutions Division at the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

His biography is no longer on the department's website, and commerce commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement to GOMN that Dale's "appointment with the Commerce Department has ended, effective immediately," noting Sarah Butler has been appointed as acting deputy commissioner.

When asked if this was because of Dale's arrest, the Minnesota Department of Commerce told GoMN Thursday it can't comment on that because of a state data practices law.

Dale was arrested at a St. Paul hotel during an undercover operation that was "targeted at curbing demand for prostitution," St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders told GoMN. The police report shows the men were targeted after responding to an ad for "sex and sexual acts."

This case is still under investigation, with Linders telling GoMN investigators expect to give their reports to the St. Paul City Attorney's office this week. The attorney's office will then consider charges against the men involved.

Prostitution in Minnesota

The Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force says the demand for commercial sex drives prostitution and human sex trafficking. (Prostitution, under Minnesota state law, means hiring or agreeing to hire someone for sex, while human trafficking means aiding in the prostitution of someone.)

Because prostitution and sex trafficking are so closely related, statistics about the prevalence of these crimes are often lumped together. Estimates show that 8,000 to 12,000 people are involved in prostitution or sex trafficking every day in Minnesota, a 2009 fact sheet from the Advocates of Human Rights shows.

According to the most recent report to the Minnesota Legislature, here's the number of people who were charged with prostitution-related crimes between 2007-2013:

Minnesota has a Safe Harbor Law, which protects people under the age of 24 who engage in prostitution – they're treated as victims instead of criminals.

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