Human trafficking arrests in Rohnert Park

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A man and two women from the East Bay were arrested for suspicion of trafficking minors for sex during a bust outside a Rohnert Park motel early Sunday morning, authorities said.

Two girls, age 13 and 16, also were found at the scene and were removed to safety during the course of the investigation, which began around 2 a.m. in the Budget Inn parking lot, Rohnert Park police said.

The suspects are Joanna McClenahan, 26, of Pittsburg; Marilee Romine, 19, of neighboring Antioch; and Edwin Prasad Jr., 18, of Vallejo, the Rohnert Park Public Safety Department said. All three were being held Sunday at the Sonoma County Jail, with bail of $125,000, and were scheduled to make their initial appearances in court on Tuesday.

The 13-year-old is from Vallejo, and the 16-year-old, a relative of Prasad’s, is from Shingle Springs, according to police.

Police Sgt. Rick Bates said the trio and the two girls were loitering suspiciously in the motel parking lot when they came to the attention of two foot patrol officers who began investigating. They had been furnished with alcohol and drugs by the adults, he said.

But, when confronted, the subjects provided false names and conflicting stories to police in their effort to explain their presence.

In the meantime, the father of the 13-year-old called Rohnert Park authorities to report that his daughter was missing and he thought she might have found her way to Rohnert Park.

Bates said the father had been doing his own detective work to try to track her down and, after consulting online sources, became suspicious she might have gotten involved with someone involved with prostitution.

Following his leads, authorities were able to confirm some of the father’s fears and connect some of the loose ends to begin to build a case against the three suspects, Bates said.

Police determined they had checked into the motel late Saturday afternoon, though it was not clear if the teenagers had seen any clients, Bates said.

Authorities were still trying to determine if the minors had been in Rohnert Park before, though he said it was otherwise common to come across out-of-town people in the local sex trade.

The suspects were arrested for suspicion of felony conspiracy and human trafficking of minors for the purpose of sex, as well as misdemeanor charges for molesting or harassing a minor.

Prasad additionally was arrested for suspected check fraud, according to jail records.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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