GOP official among 7 men arrested in St. George prostitution sting

L to R: L to R: Michael Eugene Low Jr., of Washington City, James Robert Cooper, of Hurricane, Tony Dee Jensen, of St. George, Jorge Alejandro Vallejo, of Washington City, Ryan Andrew Blanchard, of Santa Clara, Jay Scott Taylor, of St. George, and Blake Floyd Cozzens, of Cedar City, Utah, booking photos posted Feb. 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Five men, including a Southern Utah Republican Party official, were arrested Monday and two additional men were arrested Tuesday during a prostitution sting by St. George Police and the Department of Homeland Security.

Blake Cozzens, 28, of Cedar City; Jay Taylor, 44, and Tony Jensen, 47, both of St. George; Michael Low Jr., 30, and Jorge Vallejo, 41, both of Washington City; James Cooper, 61, of Hurricane; and Ryan Blanchard, 24, of Santa Clara, were each charged with class A misdemeanor patronizing a prostitute, according to information filed in 5th District Court by the Washington County Attorney’s Office.

The men responded to an advertisement soliciting sex acts for money placed on by a confidential informant, according to the probable cause statements filed by St. George Police in support of the arrests.

Each of the men negotiated sex acts in exchange for money in text messages with the confidential informant, according to court documents, and were arrested after meeting at a prearranged location and paying between $100 and $150 for the sex acts they had discussed.

The men were transported and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. As this report publishes, Vallejo remains in police custody while the six other defendants have been released on $1,950 bail pending trial.

Prior to the sting operation, Blake Cozzens held the position of Iron County Republican Party Treasurer.

In a statement posted on Facebook Wednesday, Chair of the Iron County Republican party Andrew Young reported Cozzens had resigned from his position at the Iron County GOP. Young added:

While we as a party leadership don’t condone this kind of behavior, we know that everyone has a right to due process in the law.

Young encouraged the community to “be respectful to Blake (Cozzens) and his family.”

Entrapment defense

In these type of arrests, the question of whether a prostitution sting is entrapment is invariably raised.

Under Utah law, it is not entrapment unless law enforcement implants the criminal idea in the mind of the defendant. If the defendant had the proclivity or intent to commit the crime with nothing more than the solicitation by law enforcement, entrapment is not a sustainable defense.

However, if law enforcement used improper pressure or persuasion to induce someone to do something they would not normally do, then the defendant may have an entrapment defense.


Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • DRT February 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    OK, so he pays his fine. Then when, (not if,) some jackass asks him about it, his reply can be, “yeah, I tried to have sex with a prostitute. SO WHAT!”

    I can’t believe how the media, and most of the people in this state have this great obsession about sex. It looks to me like they just don’t have enough of a life to be able to mind their own business.
    While I’m on my soapbox, I will add this big deal about pornography. So a kids looks at porn? SO WHAT. These lilly livered people think that everybody who looks at porn is automatically doomed to a life of mental illness, just turn my stomach. Again, get your nose back into your own business, and let parents deal with their kids. I doubt seriously that there are very many people here who have never looked at a Playboy. SO WHAT! It didn’t send them off the deep end.

    Or did it? Perhaps that is why we have so many antidepressant scripts filled here in Utah.

    • No Filter February 15, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      100% agree, Utah has issues.

    • comments February 15, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Right, while we’re at it let’s go ahead and pass out condoms to all the 5th grade classes and distribute free tablets to each of the students that comes preloaded with all the latest and greatest porn sites. We’ll make it part of the curriculum even. I’m sure it’ll have fantastic results. Let’s go ahead and legalize meth and drunk driving while we’re at it. After all, it’s no one’s business if I get drunk in my own car!

      • DRT February 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm

        I am not calling you an idiot. But sometimes your responses are a bit
        “out there,” even to me.

        • comments February 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm

          indeed, they can be hahah

          • Striker4 February 15, 2018 at 9:59 pm

            You should get back on your meds Bob aka ( comments )

    • bikeandfish February 15, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      I think most of us could care less about consensual sex between adults. What is interesting is the nature of the arrest compared to the RNC morality platform. They love to police the behavior of the nation but can’t even live within the law themselves.

      Per porn…Utah’s war on porn is absurd even if I think there are concerns for minors.

      In general, traditional conservative values and theocratic christian ones are incompatible despite the RNC trying to marry them for years.

      • John February 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm

        Political affiliation has nothing to do with sexual behavior. The school shooter yesterday was a registered democrat. So, what’s your point? Again? DUH! When liberals think they are right, we call that imagination !

        • bikeandfish February 15, 2018 at 8:42 pm

          Actually, sexual behavior is a major component of the modern RNC platform.

          And his affiliation with a party that pushes puritanical religious ideals on citizens all the while soliciting prostitution is an important exposure of the hypocrisy. Its also is a solid argument on why the federal government should not regulate consensual, adult sex in any fashion.

          • mctrialsguy February 20, 2018 at 5:22 pm

            Sex was Bill Clinton’s platform.

      • comments February 15, 2018 at 6:56 pm

        Many mormons are moral hypocrites. I didn’t realize the RNC had any morality, let alone a platform.

        I actually support fully Utah’s LDS “war on porn”. It’s one of the few cases where I do agree w/ mormons.

        “In general, traditional conservative values and theocratic christian ones are incompatible despite the RNC trying to marry them for years.”

        Can you give an example of this? I don’t follow.

        • John February 15, 2018 at 8:23 pm

          Can’t you read? Political affiliation has nothing to do with sexual behavior..Or is that concept lost in your closed minded little liberal world? And also the Mormons have nothing to do with his sexual behavior either. You are just one hateful little meat puppet !

          • bikeandfish February 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm

            The evangelical base, especially in the south really gained prominence in the RNC in the 70s. Before then the RNC was more traditionally conservative, ie small government influence on personal liberty. The reality is the social platform, ie the claim to evangelical morality, is inconsistent with the libertarian-esque tenets of conservatives. You can’t constantly regulate individual action, ie reduce personal liberty, under the premise of christian values and call yourself conservative, in its classic sense.

            Same sex marriage is one example. Legislating morality in the fashion the RNC has not in line with the government respecting personal liberty and equality. Its antithetical to liberty in every fashion. And the roots of that type of legislation are rooted in christian theocracy.

          • John February 16, 2018 at 9:15 am

            Political affiliation has no more to do with sexual behavior than being a democrat makes you a school shooter, apples and watermelons.. Such a bunch of manipulated liberals.. Keep drinking that KOOL-AID, and maybe you will be famous one day too !

        • Striker4 February 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm

          It doesn’t matter what the article is about you can always count on Bob aka ( comments ) to always make another one of his anti Mormon comments

          • Real Life February 16, 2018 at 12:28 am

            Hmmmmm. This guy sounds like somebody we know.

          • Striker4 February 16, 2018 at 5:59 am

            It seems they let Real Life out !

          • ladybugavenger February 16, 2018 at 6:38 am

            Jolla is? Dot? Is that you?

          • ladybugavenger February 16, 2018 at 6:39 am

            Suppose to say, koolaid? Dot? Is that you?

  • Chris February 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    hilarious! no prostitution sting here is complete without the arrest of a prominent Republican.

    • desertgirl February 15, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Yeah, right dopey, only Republicans see prostitutes.

    • John February 15, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      Political affiliation has nothing to do with sexual behavior. The school shooter yesterday was a registered democrat. So, what’s your point? Again? DUH! When liberals think they are right, we call that imagination !

  • comments February 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Did they mention the “confidential informant” is actually an “actively working prostitute” (for lack of better phraseology). I thought they used female undercover policewomen, but nope, even the cops will employ the services of these working girls.

    • John February 15, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      You talk so much crap I don’t know whether to offer you toilet paper or a breath mint..

      • Striker4 February 15, 2018 at 10:07 pm

        John. one thing about comments otherwise known as Bob he is full of it

  • Whatteverrr February 15, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    John- YOU ARE A LIAR!! how the hell would you know. You reps love that fake news! Your posts are nothing but RANT ! NONSENSE!

    • John February 15, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      hahahahahaha! another meat puppet heard from….

    • John February 15, 2018 at 9:36 pm

      What did I lie about? Political affiliation has nothing to do with sexual behavior? The Mormons have nothing to do with his sexual behavior ? Your’e a closed minded delusioned idiot if you think they are related.

  • comments February 15, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    i read the spectrum article. It said the informant was a prostitute that one of these men had “seen” on two prior occasions. The police “hired” this prostitute for this little “sting operation”. It’s strange.

  • dodgers February 16, 2018 at 5:06 am

    What a waste of time for law enforcement. They should be going after real criminals, real crimes. But instead they spend their time and resources “creating the situation,” to lure in and ensnare. I can only surmise they must have excess time, personnel and budget, which should prompt reductions. What an embarrassment……for “law enforcement.”

    • DRT February 16, 2018 at 9:15 am

      I have to agree with you. This “Moral Police” aka vice squad, is a waste of resources, not to mention taxpayer money.
      I lived near Pahrump, NV for several years. Prostitution is legal there, and several “ranches” operate totally within the law. They do not create problems for either law enforcement, or the general public.

  • mmsandie February 16, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I find it interesting reading comments everyday. At least we are allowed to voice ourselves…when we say p9ilitical affiliation isn’t importantof course it is … when someone runs for office they don t list prostitution on their resume. Or they wouldn’t get el3ctedv you might get the info later..some comments are just cruel .. you can express yourself better without pushing your thoughts too far.. no one thinks your better than anyone else by making such comments..

    • DRT February 16, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Who is your post aimed at?

  • comments February 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

    If they had set up a scenario where this was a trafficked underage victim of prostitution that these men set up an encounter with then I might be in favor of it. In this case tho, these cops need to be out doing traffic, and stop wasting public $$$$$$$$$$. And how ethical is it to use an actual prostitute that one of these guys had ‘seen’ two other times? I get that they don’t want prostitution in this city, but pls don’t set up such conniving and unethical ‘stings’ just to entrap people. And Department of Homeland Security is going after low level, misdemeanor patronizing a prostitute charges? Don’t they have terrorists and real sex traffic victims to find.

    Some of these ‘good mormon men’ here are obviously moral hypocrites, but that’s beside the point.

    its ridiculous

  • mctrialsguy February 20, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Am I getting this right, you run an illegal ad, then arrest those that respond to it? Right? Not condoning what these guys did, in any sense, but that is entrapment. You need to bust the slave trade industry, and sex with minors as priority # 1 for using your policing resources!

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