BRANDON — The city of Lakeland’s longtime city attorney was among eight people arrested Wednesday in an undercover prostitution sting in Hillsborough County, authorities said.
Timothy McCausland, 69, was charged with unlawful acts as precursor to prostitution, a misdemeanor, records show.
Detectives used fake advertisements posted on an adult escort website to lure the suspects to a hotel near South Falkenburg Road and East Adamo Drive in Brandon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. When the suspects arrived, each came into contact with an undercover detective.
In a statement Wednesday, the city of Lakeland said, “We know very little and we are trying to ascertain further details.”
McCausland was hired in 1992 as chief assistant city attorney and became the city attorney in November 2001. He currently is paid $222,946 per year.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release that his office “holds all residents and visitors to the same standards. If you break the law in our county, no matter who you are, you will be arrested.”
Operations like this help investigators locate victims of human trafficking and stop criminals “who are hiding in plain sight," Chronister said.
One example: A suspect in a grand theft auto and burglary case was apprehended in the recent operation.
The eight suspects arrested range in age from 24 to 69. Three were charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution and three were charged with offering to commit prostitution. One was charged with operating an unlicensed massage practice.
The county ordinance McCausland is accused of violating involves a “coordinated meeting or contact between two or more persons on private property which originates through a solicitation, advertisement or display on media available to the general public, on the Internet or on the World Wide Web.”
During these meetings, it’s illegal for participants to expose their breasts or genitals, fondle the other party’s genitals or for one party to request these acts from the other, according to the ordinance.
Details on how McCausland violated the ordinance were not immediately available Thursday.
A heavily-redacted arrest report released by the Sheriff’s Office says McCausland “made contact with an undercover deputy via text who was posing as a prostitute."
McCausland was arrested about 11:40 a.m. and released shortly before 9 p.m. after posting $250 bail, records show. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.