Indiana sheriff charged in prostitution probe

(WISH Photo, file)
(WISH Photo, file)

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana sheriff accused of patronizing a prostitute gave the woman a deputy’s badge and uniform so she could get hotel discounts, then later encouraged her to get rid of the evidence, authorities said Tuesday.

A federal grand jury indictment charges Clark County Sheriff Daniel N. Rodden with lying to FBI agents and advising the woman to dispose of the credentials and uniform.

Rodden’s arrest came just weeks after a suburban Indianapolis sheriff resigned over his own relationship with a prostitute.

Prosecutors declined to say at a Tuesday news conference whether the cases are linked. But a person with knowledge of the connection told The Associated Press they involve the same woman. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the connection hasn’t been made public.

Authorities wouldn’t say if the woman is cooperating with law enforcement.

The indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges Rodden met the woman in mid-May 2013 at a Louisville, Kentucky, hotel, where he provided her “with law enforcement credentials and an official deputy’s badge” so she could obtain a government employee’s rate at hotels. The indictment also alleges Rodden met the woman again in late May and paid her $300 to perform a sex act.

He faces seven counts of making false statements and one count of encouraging the destruction of evidence.

Rodden, 60, has denied the charges. He has served as sheriff since 2007 and has been married for 29 years and has two adult children.

Rodden was led in shackles Tuesday into a federal courtroom in Indianapolis, where a federal magistrate judge read him his rights. Once his shackles were removed, he sat at the defense table with his head bowed and a dazed look on his face as attorneys asked and answered questions on his behalf. He was released under certain conditions, including that he not have access to firearms.

The indictment, which was returned on July 22, stems from an FBI investigation of wire fraud and enticing an individual to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington said the investigation into Rodden started when the FBI developed an informant who had information about prostitution and wire fraud activity.

“Mr. Rodden was one of the people that was alleged to have patronized the prostitute in question,” he said.

The indictment alleges that Rodden lied to federal agents during the investigation. FBI special agents and task force members interviewed Rodden three times this year — May 27, May 29 and June 5.

Rodden is the second Indiana law enforcement official who has been the recent target of an investigation related to a prostitute. Boone County Sheriff Ken Campbell resigned in June amid an investigation into his relationship with a prostitute.

The woman in Campbell’s case told The Indianapolis Star that she and Campbell began a consensual sexual relationship in November 2010 that continued into this year. She said Campbell didn’t pay her for their sexual encounters but that he knew she was a prostitute before the relationship began.

Campbell has not been charged.

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