LEHI — A former police vice squad lieutenant was arrested Tuesday following a prostitution sting after investigators say he offered to "manage" women.
David Moss, 51, of Lehi, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of exploiting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, two counts of lewdness and sexual battery.
The Utah County Sheriff's Office conducted a "human trafficking operation" in Lehi on Valentine's Day. After posting a message on an undisclosed social media app, Moss — using the name "Pilot" — contacted what ended up being an undercover detective and arranged to pay $150 for "services such as kissing, touching and pleasure that Moss was looking for," according to a police affidavit.
About the same time, police said Moss contacted a second woman, who was also an undercover detective, using the same app.
In addition to being a former cop, Moss was also a religious leader and most recently worked for West Valley City government.
Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed that Moss was a bishop at the time of his arrest but has since been removed from his position.
"The behavior alleged in this incident is completely unacceptable and unbecoming of any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and especially of someone serving in a position of local leadership. Upon learning of this situation, local leaders took immediate steps to relieve him of his role and to identify his replacement," spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a prepared statement.
Also Wednesday, West Valley City confirmed that Moss had resigned on Saturday as deputy director of the Community Preservation Department. He was also the director of the Animal Services Division for a year, from 2016 to 2017.
"David Moss resigned as a West Valley City employee on Saturday, February 16th. We became aware of the official charges yesterday and this is now a personal matter for Mr. Moss," the city said in a brief statement Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, when Moss contacted the second undercover detective he "asked if she was 'escorting.'" The detective replied that she was “learning the ropes."
"Moss then stated he was looking for girls to let him be their manager. He stated he has done this sort of thing in the past and he has a system that is 'cutting edge' and avoids people getting caught," according to the report.
Moss told the undercover detectives that there is a difference between a "pimp" and a "manager," the affidavit states.
"When we work together, I book and you entertain. I offer protection, I train you on how to act so we get repeat/regulars and higher paying. I also teach you how to stay out of jail. It's kinda cutting-edge stuff that go against the norm but those that use it like it," Moss said, according to the affidavit.
When Moss met with the two undercover detectives at the designated location, Moss showed them money and said, "I am not opposed to paying," the report states. Undercover officers said they recorded the conversation.
Moss then allegedly asked the women if they knew what a "cop check" is. While explaining it to them, Moss made one of the officers touch his genitals over his clothing, and then exposed himself, according to the police affidavit.
"The female (undercover) detectives immediately became concerned and retreated to the bathroom. One of the decoys stated she locked the door, which is something she had never done in previous undercover operations," the report states.
As Moss left the room, he was met by deputies from the Utah County Sheriff's Special Victims Task Force. Officers said they discovered a handgun in his pocket.
"Moss admitted that he was there for a business deal with the girls," according to the affidavit.
When police interviewed him on Tuesday, he told detectives that he was "teaching" the women, and that "he just wanted to talk with them," the report states. But when detectives pointed out the recorded statements he had previously made, "he admitted to making bad choices."
Law enforcement history
Moss was with St. George police from 1997 to 2012, rising to the rank of lieutenant over the department's vice squad, according to investigators, but was forced to resign from the department due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Investigators at Peace Officer Standards and Training received a complaint in 2012 regarding allegations of sex on duty involving Moss. He relinquished his police certification in 2013, which according to administrators is the equivalent of having his certification revoked, meaning Moss can never reapply to be a police officer in Utah.
"Moss has also served as a leader of a local religious congregation. This also placed Moss in a unique position of trust that allowed him access to vulnerable individuals that could be exploited. Moss denied that he had 'run' any other girls," the affidavit states.
But due to his concerning statements, deputies are asking anyone who may have had involvement of this nature with Moss to contact investigators at 801-851-4010.
According to his LinkedIn page, Moss worked as a counselor in the state Division of Juvenile Justice from 2013 to 2015, where the profile says he worked as a counselor for youth entering the juvenile justice system. The page also said he was program manager/project director with the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health from 2015 to 2016. He also worked for a year as an adjunct professor at Provo College, the page states.
The Utah Department of Human Services on Wednesday confirmed Moss had been employed there but offered no additional comment.
The most recent job title listed on Moss' LinkedIn profile was "Looking for opportunities."
The sheriff's office announced Wednesday that a second man was also arrested as part of the sting.
Richard Michael Martin, 29, of Riverton, was arrested after he solicited an undercover officer — whom he believed was a mother — to have sex with her preteen daughters, according to a statement from the Utah County Sheriff's Office.
When detectives made contact with Martin, they found he had "extremely graphic child pornography involving very young children and infants," according to the sheriff's office.
He was arrested for investigation of nine counts of enticing a minor. Investigators say they will seek possible federal charges against Martin, who was allegedly arrested for similar crimes in Kentucky in 2009.