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Putnam County attorney among nine in prostitution bust

Peru hospital executive, Sandwich mayor also charged

Nine men, including a Putnam County attorney, a Peru hospital executive and the mayor of Sandwich, were charged after an investigation into prostitution in LaSalle County.

Roger C. Bolin, 64, Buda, was one of the nine charged with solicitation of a sexual act.

Bolin also was charged with attempted solicitation of a sexual act and battery, stemming from an April 4 incident, according to court documents.

Bolin is a public defender in Putnam County.

Richard A. Olson, 66, Sandwich, was one of the nine charged with solicitation of a sexual act, from a March 14 incident, according to court records.

Moving to Sandwich in 1994, Olson was the city’s police chief for 16 years before retiring. He defeated longtime incumbent Tom Thomas in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. His term expires in 2021.

Olson has resigned his position as mayor. His letter of resignation was read at Monday night’s Sandwich City Council meeting.

Along with Bolin and Olson, Raul Barajas, 40, Peru; Dustin A. Meredith, 29, Streator; Joseph P. Hanley, 57, Earlville; Wiley M. Sawyer, 18, Waterman; James G. Schaefer, 53, Peru; Richard Peradotti, 55, Peru; and Alphonso T. Thompson, 33, Streator, were charged with solicitation of a sexual act.

Schaefer is the vice president of operations and physician services at Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru.

According to a news release issued by LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton, the investigation was conducted on three separate dates, beginning in December 2016.

The second portion of the investigation took place March 14, and April 4, in Ottawa and Peru. This portion targeted people soliciting the sexual acts, also called “johns.” The subjects were interviewed and released on these dates.

As a result of this investigation, eight people were charged with solicitation of a sexual act (a Class A misdemeanor) and one person with solicitation of a sexual act, attempted solicitation of a sexual act and battery.

All subjects were mailed a notice to appear with a 9 a.m. Friday, May 31, court date in Judge H. Chris Ryan’s courtroom.

The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office and Tri-DENT Drug Task Force worked together with Ottawa and Peru police departments.

The investigation was initiated after complaints from LaSalle County residents regarding prostitution, according to Templeton in a press statement.

“This investigation was aimed at deterring both parties involved in prostitution and highlight the dangers prostitutes and ‘johns’ face when they engage in such activity. This undercover investigation focused on the link between prostitution and the use of illegal drugs in this area and the crimes that are directly related to it, such as robbery, battery, homicide, etc.”

The sheriff’s press release said agents spoke with several self-admitted drug-addicted women during recent drug investigations and learned the Illinois Valley’s problem with prostitution is closely tied to the growing drug addiction crisis.

“Some of the females in the Illinois Valley are not working in the sex trade by choice, but rather because they struggle with substance abuse and addiction and are attempting to fuel a devastating drug habit,” the sheriff said in a statement.

“Many of these women are stuck in a cycle of drug addiction that is an ongoing crisis in our community. Our goal is to improve the safety and quality of life in our community and hopefully deter people from engaging in this type of activity and push them to get help for their addictions.”

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