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Sheriff’s deputy pleads not guilty to solicitation

Eric Francke

Eric Francke

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Updated: September 3, 2013 6:59AM

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of obstruction of justice and solicitation in connection with a prostitution case.

Deputy Eric Francke, 33, entered the plea at his arraignment July 31 in Lake County Circuit Court. A trial date of Oct. 21 has been scheduled.

Francke was charged with solicitation in a case in which two other defendants were charged with human trafficking. It is not alleged that Francke had any knowledge of the trafficking operation.

He is accused of offering the victim in the case $300 to perform a sexual act and of knowingly destroying text messages to the victim, according to court records.

Sheriff Mark Curran said that Francke has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest in May.

A man who faced more serious charges in the case has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Jeffrey Horton, 27, was charged with involuntary servitude, trafficking, conspiracy and promoting prostitution with codefendant Aaron Thurmond, 22.

The two Chicago men were driving with a 23-year-old woman in the car when a Mundelein police officer stopped them for a routine traffic stop April 3. The woman told police the men were driving her to Antioch to force her to have sex and that she had been forced into prostitution for more than a year and was beaten if she did not cooperate.

Horton pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution and the remaining charges were dropped, according to court records. Horton could have spent two to five years in prison. Instead, he received 24 months of felony probation, was ordered to perform 200 hours of public service and spend 76 days in custody. He also agreed to provide truthful testimony, according to court records.

Thurmond has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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