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Formal charges filed against men arrested in child sex sting

One defense lawyer says his client was ‘entrapped’

Five men have been formally charged with soliciting child prostitution in connection with a child predator sex sting conducted last month in Durango by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

All five men face a presumptive range of 4-12 years in prison, lawyers said Monday. They previously had said the men could face indeterminate-to-life sentences because of the nature of the sex crime. But on Monday a legal review showed that was not the case.

Timur Urunov, 30, and Christopher Gerard Rindfleisch, 21, were charged Monday in 6th Judicial District Court; and Charles Watts, 38, of Durango, was charged Friday.

Two other men, Rory Schmier, 47, of La Plata County, and Harold Marshall, 45, of Farmington, were charged earlier this month.

A sixth man, Jason Yazzie Chee, 39, faces charges in federal court in Durango.

All six are suspected of responding to a provocative advertisement uploaded to public websites April 25-27 in an attempt to lure people in the Four Corners interested in paying for sexual encounters, according to arrest affidavits filed in 6th Judicial District Court.

“Hey guys! Krissy here!!! Looking for very open minded no b.s. gentlemen for some fun in Durango!!!!” reads one advertisement posted on Backpage.com. “We know how to please!!!! Text for details.”

The ad was titled, “pretty young blossoms (three smiley faces) - 19.”

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with help from the Durango Police Department and the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

Once men responded to the ad, an undercover agent offered to let the men have sex with one or two girls, ages 11 and 14. Agents arranged a time and place to meet, and the men went to different lengths in carrying out the alleged crimes, with some exchanging money and others getting cold feet and driving away.

During a bail hearing Monday, Durango defense lawyer David Greenberg, who represents Urunov, criticized the investigation, saying the government essentially entrapped his client.

He asked District Judge Suzanne Carlson to reduce bail from $250,000 to $5,000, saying holding him on an amount he has no chance of posting is like punishing him before he’s been found guilty.

Urunov is a Russian speaker who has been in the United States for 4½ years. A Russian interpreter appeared by phone to translate every word said, including a passage from Chapter 12 from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that Greenberg read aloud in making his point about bail.

“‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the 20th time that day,” the book reads. “‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ ‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’”

Judge Carlson reduced Urunov’s bail to $100,000, expressing concern he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

“I think there is a huge danger to the community, and I’m concerned about that,” she said.


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