NJ Congressman Fires Aide Over Child Sex Solicitation Charges

Thursday, Nov 25, 2010  |  Updated 8:40 AM EDT
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This undated booking photo released by the Gaithersburg Police Department in Gaithersburg, Md., shows Robert Decheine. New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman has fired Decheine, his chief of staff, after the aide was arrested in Maryland on a charge of soliciting sex from a minor. (AP Photo/Gaithersburg Police Department)

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A New Jersey congressman has fired his chief of staff -- a former Obama aide -- after the aide was arrested in Maryland on a charge of soliciting sex from a minor.

Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman took the action after learning that top aide Robert Decheine was among 11 people snared in a Gaithersburg, Md., police sting. Police placed ads on a website and an undercover officer communicated with customers through phone and text messages.

Police said the 48-year-old was arrested on Nov. 17 after soliciting to have sex with an underage girl. Decheine was released on $15,000 bail.  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," according to the Website TMP.

The Record newspaper reports Rothman's office issued a statement saying the New Jersey Democrat considers the alleged criminal act "to be shocking, appalling and indefensible.''

Decheine told the newspaper in an e-mail message he had no comment.  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).

Decheine has run Rothmans Washington and New Jersey offices since May 2003.

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