Johnson City man, 6 others arrested in West Knox Co. prostitution sting

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Seven men were arrested Wednesday night by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Vice Unit during a reverse prostitution sting at a West Knoxville hotel.

All seven men were charged with patronizing prostitution:

  • Ronald D. Yelen, 38, of Maryville
  • Todji K. Martin, 34, of Knoxville
  • David A. Kerr, 73, of Louisville
  • Timothy J. Britton, 50, of Blaine
  • Richard D. Montgomery, 57, of Johnson City
  • Van T. Tran, 22, of Knoxville
  • Carmelino Escobedo-Lopez of Lenoir City

Arrest records indicate the suspects responded to a posting on Backpage.com under escorts, contacted an undercover employee of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and made an appointment. When the suspects went to meet their supposed escorts at Baymont Inn & Suites in West Knoxville and agreed to pay money for sex, they were arrested.

Yelen was previously convicted in 2011 of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor with nine victims and is currently on the TBI Sex Offender Registry. Martin’s criminal history includes three convictions for attempted second degree murder in Knox County.

Three federal agents with Homeland Security assisted with the sting.

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