Former St. George Police officer arrested in human trafficking sting enters plea

Stock image courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A former St. George Police Department gang and vice squad supervisor pleaded guilty Tuesday in 4th District Court to exploiting a prostitute. The charges stemmed from an arrest during a human trafficking sting on Valentine’s Day.

David Moss, 52, of Pleasant Grove, booking photo taken in Utah County, Feb. 19, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office via Fox 13, St. George News

David Moss, 52, of Lehi, appeared in 4th District Court in American Fork on Tuesday with his attorney, Steven Russell, where he pleaded guilty to exploiting a prostitute, a third-degree felony, as well as entering a “no contest” plea on the misdemeanor sexual battery charge. The second-degree felony charge of forcible sex abuse and misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute were dismissed.

The sting operation was conducted by the Special Victim’s unit with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 14. Moss, using the screen name of “Pilot,” answered an ad placed by undercover detectives on social media where he initially requested the services of a prostitute.

Read more: Former St. George Vice Squad supervisor arrested after human trafficking sting in Lehi

Moss then told the undercover investigator that he wanted to manage other prostitutes and even told another undercover detective that he has managed girls in the past and boasted a “cutting edge” system to avoid getting caught.

He also described how he could protect them and help them avoid police. He said he would take care of booking and they would “entertain.”

Authorities say during the sting operation Moss arrived at a hotel for an arranged meeting where he allegedly exposed himself to the two undercover officers and grabbed the hand of one of the detectives and forced her to touch his genitals.

After the meeting, Moss exited the room and was met in the hallway by detectives and was advised charges would likely follow. He was later interviewed at his home in Lehi on Feb. 19 before being arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail. He was released the following day after posting $10,260 bail.

During Tuesday’s hearing, 4th District Judge Roger Griffin ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be completed by Adult Probation and Parole before sentencing, which is scheduled to take place in 4th District Court on Aug. 20.

Moss previously served for more than 15 years in various St. George Police Department units, including gang and vice squads. In 2012, he was forced to resign after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light.

Richard Michael Martin, 30, of Riverton, booking photo taken in Utah County, Feb. 12, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office via Fox 13, St. George News

A second man, Richard Michael Martin, 30, of Riverton, was also arrested during the sting operation after the defendant allegedly described in detail that he wanted to have sexual relations with two children, specifically 6- and 12-year-old girls, in a series of messages with an undercover detective posing as the children’s mother, according to a statement released by the department in February.

The department also ran an undercover investigation in May 2016 when detectives made contact with Martin via social media. Police say at that point the suspect described how he wanted to engage in sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, which was actually a detective posing as the teen.

During the 2016 investigation officers were unable to arrange a meeting with the suspect, but came into contact with him a second time during the sting on social media in February.

The charges from both investigations were combined and include 13 felony counts. In the 2016 case Martin was charged five second-degree felony counts of enticing a minor by internet or text and in the 2019 case the defendant faces two first-degree felony counts of criminal solicitation and six second-degree felony counts of criminal solicitation.

Investigators also learned during a background check that in 2009 Martin was arrested and served time in Kentucky for similar crimes, including enticing a minor over the internet.

After months of legal wrangling, an arraignment hearing is scheduled to take place in 4th District Court on Aug. 1.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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