Walnut Grove’s Top Cop Caught Trying To Buy Sex From 17-Year-Old

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The police chief of one of Minnesota’s most famous towns and two other men were snared in a sting that caught them trying to buy sex with minors, according to charges filed Monday.

Michael R. Zeug, 45, of Walnut Grove, was charged Monday in Redwood County District Court with attempting to hire a minor for sex, a felony. Zeug was arrested Friday in the city of Redwood Falls, and he remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Through Operation Guardian Angel, conducted by a regional drug task force and a human trafficking task force out of Washington County, law enforcement officers posted online ads on Backpage.com and Craigslist.org “to identify those individuals who want to solicit minors for sex,” said Redwood County Attorney Steven Collins.

Walnut Grove is a town of 800 in southwestern Minnesota, whose long-running fame centers on the “Little House on the Prairie” books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The beloved series gave a fictionalized account of her life as a girl on the Midwest frontier during the mid-19th century and provided the story line for a popular television series in the 1970s and 1980s. One of those books, “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” is set in Walnut Grove.

Emergency city meeting

The town’s website on Monday afternoon listed many department heads but not one for the Police Department. Collins said the City Council had scheduled an emergency meeting for 7 p.m. Monday to weigh Zeug’s fate as chief.

Collins said Zeug sought to buy sex from someone he believed was a 17-year-old girl, but he actually was communicating with an agent with the federal Department of Homeland Security working undercover.

During their conversation, the agent told Zeug that the ad was “to make a little extra money” and that she likes sex, according to the criminal complaint.

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