28 people indicted in Rockford lingerie shop investigation, 5 still at large

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Twenty-eight people have been indicted in connection with a prostitution investigation into two Rockford lingerie shops.

Police say all but five are in custody.

Two Rockford businesses were shut down in March and May after police conducted an investigation into the illegal sex trade.

Chantilly Lace, 106 7th Street, and Exclusive Lingerie Boutique, 77 7th Street, were closed and condemned.

The Rockford Police Department executed search warrants of both businesses during an operation dubbed “Operation Exclusive”, and based on evidence gathered, Winnebago County States Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced Wednesday a total of 80 charges against 28 individuals.

Twenty three of the people indicted are in custody. Arrest warrants have been issued for five of the men indicted.

All twenty-eight were charged with Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Chantilly Lace owner Peggy D. Smith, 57, of Rockford, is in custody, charged with 12 counts of Promoting a Place of Prostitution.

Photo: Rockford Police Department

Bruce C. Wanke, 71, currently wanted by police, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

David A. Babler, 76, is in custody, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Denis T. Mabie, 76, is in custody, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Donald Davis, 72, is in custody, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Garelt S. Stahl, 75, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Harry L. Nebergall, 57, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Howard A. Richmond, 53, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

James Athans, 80, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

James F. Thomason, 68, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Javier E. Saavedra, 45, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Larry J. Flynn, 67, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Dr. Larry O. Sy, 55, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Dr. Mark K. Myers, 52, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Martin G. Bertagnoli, 69, currently wanted by police, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Michael J. Aberle, 74, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Randy N. Fox, 54, currently wanted by police, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Robert E. Von Bergen, 52, currently wanted by police, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Robert H. Mathison, 75, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Roger M. Miller, 77, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Ronald F. Larson, Jr., 64, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Ryan T. McMahon, 46, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Scott Sutker, 56, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Steven M. Haas, 67, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Hector Alvarez, 57, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Tom Fields, 54, currently wanted by police, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Tyson S. Fettes, 33, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Raul Pena, 52, charged Patronizing a Prostitute and Solicitation of a Sexual Act.

Wanke, Fields, Fox, Von Bergen and Bertagnoli are currently at large and wanted for arrest.

The charges against all the men are punishable by up to 3 years in jail.

Hite Ross said authorities want anyone who is aware of any human trafficking in the community to notify law enforcement.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara released a statement saying, “This investigation and the charges announced today have a significant impact on our community. With the help of those willing to come forward and provide critical information, we were able to shut these businesses down and take a big step in ending this type of activity in our community.”

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