A Columbia Heights man has been charged with prostituting an underage girl at a Roseville hotel.
The case against Samuel Cozart, 34, came to light when he allegedly asked another man at the Days Inn on Cleveland Avenue where he might buy a fake ID for a 17-year-old girl staying with him.
Cozart apparently did not know that the other man was the boyfriend of a hotel employee.
The man told the hotel manager about Cozart’s inquiry. The manager, in turn, found out Cozart had put ads on backpages.comand other “escort service” websites, according to the criminal complaint filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.
The complaint gives the following details:
The manager called police, who found Cozart in Room 222 on Tuesday with a 17-year-old girl.
Cozart, who referred to himself online as “Rico,” opened the room’s door to officers while the girl “was still putting a shirt on over her bra,” the complaint said. He denied being involved in prostitution, as did the girl. The girl also gave a bogus birthdate that would have made her an adult.
Cozart refused to talk further to police after his arrest.
While checking the girl’s warrant status, “her two phones rang multiple times,” and among the dozens of recent text messages were “terms that tended to be associated with prostitution,” the complaint said.
A female lieutenant with the Roseville Police Department interviewed the girl at the station. The girl admitted she sold sex for Cozart and gave him a cut of her earnings. She said her website names were “Jordan” and “Madison.”
The girl and Cozart were about to leave for a job in Litchfield, she told the lieutenant.
The customer there “was aware that she was 17 years old and because of this was willing to provide her with more money and 2 grams of methamphetamine,” the girl told police, the complaint said.
Cozart planned to drive her there in his gray Chrysler 300, she said.
She then broke down and cried.
“She explained that she wanted help and that she wanted out of her current situation,” the complaint said.
Receipts from the hotel showed that Cozart had rented rooms there Dec. 9-13, Dec. 22-Jan. 5 and Jan. 21-24. The girl told police that Cozart had prostituted her in rooms there.
County Attorney John Choi praised the hotel manager for “acting on her suspicions” and calling police.
He said he would not prosecute the girl. That decision is in accordance with his pledge, announced last February, to treat teenage prostitutes not as delinquents but as victims in need of services. The other county attorneys in the Twin Cities area also took part in that pledge.
Cozart, who has an extensive, multistate criminal record, including armed robbery, drugs, counterfeiting and theft, was being held Thursday in the Ramsey County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.