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Newspaper executive caught in Duluth prostitution sting

A newspaper executive received a probationary sentence after being caught in a prostitution sting conducted by the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force in a Duluth motel room.

A newspaper executive received a probationary sentence after being caught in a prostitution sting conducted by the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force in a Duluth motel room.

Todd R. Keute, 49, currently regional operations manager of the Superior Publishing Corporation and publisher of the Herald Review in Grand Rapids, pleaded guilty to prostitution in a public place, a gross misdemeanor.

Keute was sentenced on May 15 to one year of probation with terms including completing the "Breaking Free" educational program. Breaking Free is a Minnesota nonprofit providing services and resources to prostituted and exploited women and girls.

The defendant was fined $1,500 and $85 in surcharges for the incident last November.

"I deeply regret my lapse of judgment and am sorry for my actions," Keute told the News Tribune on Monday.

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Keute served as publisher of the Superior Evening Telegram and later as vice president of administration at the News Tribune before leaving the company.

According to the criminal complaint:

The Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force advertised prostitution services on a website on Nov. 8. The ad read: "Put me ur TO DO list, sexy blonde, 22."

The ad was posted on the website www.backpage.com in the escort section. Among the callers responding to the ad was Keute.

The woman, who is described in the complaint as a "cooperating individual," told Keute the cost for "full service" would be $75. After receiving a second call from the defendant, the woman gave him the motel and room number where she would meet him.

When he arrived at the motel, Keute told the woman what he wanted to do. He placed $75 on a night stand. The woman told him that she needed to go into the bathroom and freshen up. Keute is accused of grabbing the woman and placing his hands inside her shirt and grabbing her breasts.

Investigators then entered the room, identified themselves as police officers and took Keute into custody.

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