Congressman's Chief of Staff Arrested in Underage Sex Sting

New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman has fired his chief of staff, Robert Decheine, who was arrested as part of a sex sting last week. He was allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover cop posing as a 15-year-old girl.

Robert Decheine, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), was arrested in Gaithersburg, Md. last Friday on charges of soliciting sex from a minor. Decheine, who had been with the Democrat's office since 2003, was fired immediately after the congressman consulted the House Counsel about his arrest, Rothman spokesman Aaron Keyak told The Hill in a statement.

Decheine was arrested as part of a sting targeting people interested in sex with minors — the first one ever launched by the Gaithersburg Police Department, according to a press release provided to TPM. Eleven arrests were made during the operation, which came in phases. First, ads were placed online and an undercover officer began communicating with each "John."

During the course of those conversations via phone or text messaging, an exchange of services or expectations was made, said the Gaithersburg Police Department. The final phase was the apprehension, interviewing and charging of the "John."

All eleven of the suspects have been charged with a felony count of sexual solicitation of a minor, which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in prison or a fine not exceeding $25,000, or both. The Gaithersburg Police Department said that those arrested ranged from 25 to 48 years old and were from the Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia areas.

The Montgomery County Police Department, the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office, the Maryland State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation supported and assisted in the investigation, said the Gaithersburg Police Department.

"Congressman Rothman considers this alleged criminal act to be shocking, appalling and indefensible," Keyak said in a statement. He added that their office is cooperating with investigators, and that Marc Cevasco was the new acting chief of staff.

Decheine was a senior advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008, according to PolitickerNJ. He previously served as chief of staff to Rep. Bill Luther (D-MN).

Late update: An updated news release from the Gaithersburg Police Department has some more information on Decheine's arrest:

Robert Bruce Decheine, age 48, of the 500 block of 12th Street NE Washington, D.C., was arrested on November 18 and charged with one count of sexual solicitation of a minor. He was released after posting a $15,000 bond.

Late, late update: Fox DC reports that the undercover officer was posing as a 15 year old girl. Sources also told the television station that Decheine left work on Capitol Hill to meet the girl last Thursday. Decheine, who is married, was arrested in a parking lot at 10:30 p.m., Fox DC said.


Congressman's Chief of Staff Arrested in Underage Sex StingRepublished with permission from TalkingPointsMemo.com. Authored by Ryan J. Reilly. Photo via Gaithersburg, Maryland police department. TPM provides breaking news, investigating reporting and smart analysis of politics.