MADISON (WKOW) -- Three of the five Dane County men arrested in a March, 2013 Department of Justice internet child-sex sting called "Operation Black Veil" have now either pleaded to lesser crimes or seen their cases dismissed altogether.
On Thursday, 37 year-old Charles E. Zimmerman was the latest to see a felony charge, Trafficking of a Child, dropped after agreeing to plea to a misdemeanor count of prostitution.
Dane County Assistant District Attorney Corey Stephan explained to Judge William Hanrahan that the facts of Zimmerman's arrest were too vague and would be difficult to make a credible case to a jury. Stephan explained that local agents for the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) failed to properly operate a video recorder and had no viable record of the exchange with Zimmerman that led to his arrest.
A criminal complaint from March 12 states that Zimmerman responded to a Craigslist ad posted by DCI agents that read "while their mommas are away, these girls will play" and "be the first for these little people....$young$$younger$$$youngest....fifty$extra for an around the world experience."
The complaint states that Zimmerman responded to the ad and then agreed to meet with the poster at a grocery store on Madison's east side. An agent who made contact with Zimmerman in the parking lot of the store asked him if he was "interested in a 14 year-old." Zimmerman reportedly said he wasn't. After the agent again asked Zimmerman if he was interested in a 14 year-old, the suspect again said "no" and attempted to leave. It was at that time the agent arrested Zimmerman.
But without the video, ADA Stephan argued the facts of the arrest on their face would make it very difficult to assure a conviction on the felony charge of Trafficking of a Child.
Judge Hanrahan agreed to the plea deal and sentenced Zimmerman to four months in the Dane County Jail on the misdemeanor prostitution charge.
Two other Dane County men arrested as part of Operation Black Veil saw their cases entirely dismissed eariler this fall.
Judge Ellen Berz granted the request of a prosecutor to dismiss the lone charge of "Using A Computer To Facilitate A Child-Sex Crime" against 55 year-old Marc S. Marion of Madison on November 4th.
According to court records, the prosecutor cited problems regarding the age of an individual in a photograph that was submitted as evidence by the DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
Judge Hanrahan dismissed felony counts of child enticement and trafficking of a child against 50 year-old Timothy Marking on October 14th. Court transcripts from that hearing show an agent with the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation lost a video that contained evidence related to the alleged crimes.
Two other Dane County men arrested in the sting, have been found guilty of felony child-sex charges.
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