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Man fined in reverse prostitution operation

WAILUKU — A man who had $120 in cash when he went to a Kihei resort to meet an “escort” was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine after he was arrested in a police sting operation.

Gilbert Natividad, 45, of Kihei was among 10 men arrested in what police called a reverse prostitution operation targeting “johns” or customers.

“Looks like you were looking for love in all the wrong places — or, rather, looking for sex in all the wrong places,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said Dec. 11 in sentencing Natividad.

He was sentenced after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of prostitution.

Police created the sting called “Operation Valentine” in early February, using an undercover officer and an online ad for an “escort” service, said Deputy Prosecutor Sally Tobin.

She said Natividad responded to the ad and exchanged 50 or 60 text messages, starting at 6 a.m. Feb. 8 and continuing until he was in the Maui Sunset parking lot Feb. 12 and needed the room number.

He went into the hotel room where the undercover officer was and put the $120 in cash on the table, Tobin said.

“She went into one room,” Tobin said. “The uniformed officers came out of the other room, and Mr. Natividad was arrested.”

Deputy Public Defender Danielle Sears asked for a $500 fine for Natividad, who had agreed to forfeit the $120 he put on the table at the hotel.

“This is turning out to be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor for him,” she said.

Judge Loo noted that the text message exchange, which continued over four days, included suggestive photos.

“I think you agree you were basically breaking the law,” she told Natividad. “You had plenty of time to cancel this meet-up and you didn’t.

Along with imposing the $1,000 fine, Loo ordered that the $120 be forfeited.

Court records show that five other men arrested in the operation were ordered to pay fines ranging from $500 to $750 after they pleaded no contest or guilty to prostitution.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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