A Marine colonel on temporary duty at U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base was among nearly 300 people arrested in a Polk County Sheriff's Office prostitution and human trafficking sting.
Kevin Scott, who helped arrange training missions in the CentCom region, was charged with a misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute. He was arrested as part of "Operation No Tricks, No Treats," in which 277 people were charged, deputies said.
Scott, 51, approached an undercover detective shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday and asked for sex in return for $80, according to arrest documents, which said he acknowledged using the website Backpage to locate and respond to an advertisement for sex.
He was released Tuesday on $500 bond.
As he went through the names at a news conference of some of the people arrested — including a now-former Polk County Sheriff's sergeant — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held Scott's mugshot in front of him. He said Scott drove a leased car, which was paid for by the government, to the spot where he met the undercover detective.
"He said he was retired and he was no longer in the Marine Corps. That's not true," said Judd, who said Scott was active as of last weekend.
"We had to call the government and say, 'Hey would you like to come get your leased car 'cause your colonel is on the way to the county jail,' " he said.
CentCom officials directed questions to the Marines, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sting began at two undisclosed locations in Polk County on Oct. 10 and ran through Monday, according to deputies. During the operation, undercover detectives posted fictitious ads or profiles on various social media platforms, websites and mobile phone applications, posing as prostitutes or those soliciting prostitutes, deputies said. Some of the detectives responded to profiles and online ads posted by prostitutes.
"Sex sells,'' Judd said. "It's the most powerful thing in the world, and it brings down kingdoms."
Times staff writer Melissa Gomez contributed to this report. Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.