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Judson Sutherland, an Austin lawyer, was netted in a nationwide sting on sex trafficking. The Austin Police Department posted online advertisements last month to solicit prostitution services. The promotional tactics of posting irresistibly cheap offers in the escort section of a website worked, and Sutherland responded by agreeing to have sex by paying $60. When he arrived at the hotel, an undercover agent arrested him.
According to the police, the operation was part of a national sting called Operation Cross Country VII. The operation was meant to save victims of child sex trafficking and arrest pimps. But Sutherton, a former winner of the Austin 40 Under 40 got arrested. Following his arrest, his name has been taken off the website's list of winners in 2014.
Sutherland is a founding partner of Austin law firm Hajjar Sutherland & Peters LLP, and the law firm has released a statement quoted by KEYE TV mentioning that they are disturbed with the news. The firm, however, stated, "At this point, Mr. Sutherland has been a partner at this firm and our friend for the last nine years; until we make our internal conclusions, it is hasty to comment upon or opine on the media's version of events, and we hope others will follow suit in this regard."
The law firm stated further, "These are issues that we take very seriously, and are conducting our own investigation to ascertain the truth to the charges ... In no way, shape or form is this being overlooked or discounted by this firm."
The crime Sutherland has been charged with is a class-B misdemeanor. Police said that in response to the entrapment call, Sutherland had traveled to the hotel in North Austin and the evidence against him is conclusive of his intent.