AUSTIN EDITION 25-year-old pleads guilty to paying for sex

By Tim Ruzek

One of the 10 defendants arrested in a summer prostitution bust pleaded guilty Thursday to paying for sex with the woman who allegedly was prostituting her 14-year-old niece.

Jose Luis Nieto-Herrera, 25, pleaded guilty in Mower District Court to an amended charge of engaging in prostitution with an individual 18 or older. He originally was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and engaging in prostitution with a minor younger than 16 for allegedly paying for sex with the 14-year-old.

Mower County Attorney Patrick Flanagan said an Austin police detective told his office that the 14-year-old girl couldn't pick Nieto-Herrera out of a lineup. Nieto-Herrera had sex with an adult, who allegedly was Rhonda Lee Garcia-Lopez, 23, he said.


Garcia-Lopez is facing 10 felony charges related to allegedly prostituting her 14-year-old niece up to 40 times. A contested evidentiary hearing has yet to be set for her.

Through an interpreter, Nieto-Herrera said he had sex with a woman named "Yolanda," who allegedly was Garcia-Lopez, and paid her money afterward.

Judge Donald E. Rysavy sentenced Nieto-Herrera to a one-year stayed sentence and 10 days of sentenced-to-serve only if he is not deported or comes back to the United States within a year.

All of the 10 male defendants in the case are illegal immigrants from Mexico who are expected to be deported by immigration officials. They had multiple forms of false identification and range in age from 19 to 32.

Eight of the men have pleaded guilty to felony charges of engaging in prostitution with a minor younger than 16.

Antonio Rojas-Ortiz, 27, the only remaining defendant who has not pleaded guilty, was expected to be in court today.

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