Former legislator arrested in trafficking sting, pleads not guilty

By David Martin, Green River Star Via Wyoming News Exchange
Posted 5/4/21

A former Wyoming legislator from Green River entered not guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges of solicitation of prostitution and interference with a peace officer Friday afternoon.

John Hastert, …

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Former legislator arrested in trafficking sting, pleads not guilty


A former Wyoming legislator from Green River entered not guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges of solicitation of prostitution and interference with a peace officer Friday afternoon.

John Hastert, 62, was arrested Thursday after he allegedly attempted to seek sexual favors from an undercover operative during a sting operation initiated by multiple Wyoming law enforcement agencies. Hastert is also accused of resisting arrest, being taken down by multiple officers as he allegedly tried to avoid being handcuffed.

The solicitation of prostitution charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $750 fine while the interference with a peace officer charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Third Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Craig Jones set Hastert’s bond at $4,500 cash or surety, which Hastert posted later on Friday. While free on bond, Hastert is prohibited from using social media, as well as the website and app provided by

According to charging documents, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations conducted an investigation into human trafficking at the Rock Springs Clarion Hotel, located at 2518 Foothill Boulevard. As part of this investigation, an investigator from Homeland Security Investigations posed as a female prostitute on and was contacted by a person using a ViOP phone number — a method that investigators say is commonly used by sex trafficking buyers to contact potential victims. A text conversation started April 28 and continued the next day, where the investigator set her rates at $100 for 15 minutes, $200 for 30 minutes and $300 for an hour.

Investigators claim Hastert asked what the half-hour rate was and later stated the specific acts he was interested in, telling the operative he would arrive at 4 p.m. Thursday at the hotel. At about 4:05 p.m., investigators witnessed Hastert walking through the hotel parking lot, wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. The agent texted Hastert to go to room 138 and agents heard a knock at the door at 4:10 p.m. Court documents state one of the investigators, identified as Special Agent Allison observed Hastert through the peephole in the door.

Documents state a takedown command was given and Allison opened the door displaying his badge. Lt. Joseph Tomich of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, wearing ballistic armor with his badge on the left of his chest and a yellow “sheriff” placard on the right chest, identified himself as police and grabbed Hastert by the shirt collar in an attempt to bring him into the room. 

Hastert allegedly tried to pull away from Tomich while the lieutenant gave commands to stop fighting. Tomich pushed Hastert into a wall to gain control of him as Hastert allegedly continued struggling. Allison, an undercover operative and a detective assisted Tomich in gaining control of Hastert, dragging him to the ground as Hastert allegedly continued fighting the officers. 

Documents state Hastert initially refused to identify himself, but later verbally identified his name and date of birth. Tomich performed an internet search on Hastert and found photographs from his time with the Wyoming Legislature to identify him.

During a post-arrest interview, investigators claim Hastert admitted he knew street slang through the website, admitting to previously soliciting prostitution in Casper and Salt Lake City. Investigators also claim Hastert admitted to using a “burner” phone to communicate so his wife would not find out what he was doing. 

During a search of Hastert following his arrest, Tomich discovered three $100 bills, along with some pocket change and two cloth face masks. There were no other items such as a phone, wallet or identification on him; Tomich said that’s a common tactic among human trafficking buyers, to avoid substantial losses if they’re the victim of robbery.

Hastert, a Democrat, was a long-serving member of the Wyoming Legislature, being elected to both the House and Senate. 

Hastert was initially elected to the House, where he served from 2003 to 2006 and in the Senate from 2007 to 2018. He lost his 2018 re-election bid to Republican Tom James.

During his time in the Legislature, Hastert served in many leadership roles. He was the Senate Minority Caucus Chairman from 2009-2010 and 2013-2016, the Senate Minority Floor Leader from 2011-2012 and the Senate Minority Whip from 2017-2018. 

Hastert was one of four men arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution during the operation. Hastert’s trial date has been set for Sept. 9.