Minnesota inmate accused of running prostitution ring from jail

A Minnesota jail inmate was charged Thursday with running a prostitution ring nearly 100 miles away from his cell, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

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Daniel David Ellington, 38, of Brooklyn Park, was charged in Washington County District Court with two counts of sex trafficking and two counts of promotion of prostitution, the newspaper reported.

Authorities said Ellington conducted the prostitution ring in Woodbury from his cell at the Kanabec County Jail in Mora, the Pioneer Press reported. Washington County prosecutors said Ellington texted a sex worker and "advised, organized, promoted and profited" from prostitution activities last month.

“He was almost a hundred miles away and incarcerated in jail, and he was promoting prostitution and profiting from it by text,” Imran Ali, director of the East Metro Sex Trafficking Task Force, told the newspaper. “It’s definitely something I’ve never seen before.”

Ellington has been held at the Kanabec County Jail since April 2 on a counterfeiting/fraud charge. He was scheduled to be released July 12, the Pioneer Press reported.

According to the criminal complaint, the sex worker deposited at least $890 into his jail account in April through jailpayments.com so they could communicate by text messages.

“In those text messages, (Ellington) would discuss the commercial sex operation, various narcotic transactions and suspected ongoing fraudulent activity,” the complaint states. “(He) would instruct her to deposit large sums of money in his jail account so he could continue to communicate via text/telephone and purchase canteen items.”

Kanabec County Sheriff Brian Smith told the Pioneer Press the text messages were sent through a jail-issued iPod; Ellington paid for each text.

“I don’t think there is a facility in the state that has the resources to monitor every single inmate’s communications,” Smith told the newspaper said. “We wish we could, but we can’t, so we’ve got to go where the hot spots are.”

Smith said the discovery of the prostitution ring was “embarrassing.”

We're here to protect people, and we weren't completely protecting people," Smith told the Pioneer Press.

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