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EDMONTON - An Alberta politician arrested in the United States should find out by the end of the week whether he'll have to return south of the border to face a charge of soliciting prostitutes.
Mike Allen, member of the legislature for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, was arrested Monday night by police in St. Paul, Minn., during a prostitution sting. He was in the city attending a midwestern legislative conference.
After he was released Tuesday, he phoned in his resignation from Alberta's governing Progressive Conservative caucus and issued an apology for "an embarrassing moment" and "lapse of personal judgment."
The 51-year-old flew back to Edmonton later Tuesday night, but since then, fellow politicians have been tight-lipped.
Premier Alison Redford has so far refused to comment on his arrest and his constituency association and the head of the party are not talking either.
Residents in his home town aren't being so quiet.
"I'm appalled," said Carol Reider, a 42-year-old accountant and married mother. Allen is a public figure and should resign his seat, adding she mostly feels bad for his family.
St. Paul police said Allen was one of 13 men arrested during the sting. They are conducted about every two weeks.
Officers posted a fake ad on an online site for escorts and massage services called backpage.com. Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos said Allen responded to the ad over the Internet and information was exchanged through cellphone texts about when and where he would meet two female undercover officers.
Allen met the pair and agreed to pay about $200 to have a threesome, Paulos said. A team of officers then quickly placed him under arrest.
"From what I heard, he was embarrassed and very polite."
Allen was elected as a first-term MLA in last year's provincial election but hadn't previously made many headlines in his job. He was known for compiling a report based on public consultation on a treacherous highway linking Edmonton to Alberta's oilsands.
A government biography says Allen, part businessman and professional jazz musician, moved to Fort McMurray with his family in 1993 and bought Campbell's Music. The store lists Allen as president.
After taking on the music store, Allen served as president of the city's chamber of commerce. At that time, he told the Calgary Herald he wanted police to crack down on crime and prostitution in the city. "We phone the police daily ... I've been offered sexual favours at a quarter to eight in the morning, getting out of my car."
Allen spent two terms as a city councillor before jumping into provincial politics. After his election win, he sat on the standing committee for families and communities.
He wrote in a statement that he takes full responsibility for his actions.
"This is a deeply embarrassing moment and all I can say is I am sorry and humbly ask for forgiveness," he said.
"I will work long and hard to regain the trust of the many I have let down."
Allen's resignation from caucus means he has also stepped down from other legislative committees he was sitting on, but he will continue to set as an Independent.
The official Opposition Wildrose party has called for his resignation. Leader Danielle Smith said his behaviour while on government business is simply unacceptable.
Quito Maggi was Allen's campaign manager for the 2012 Alberta election. He says he was surprised by the arrest, calling it an unfortunate situation.
Maggi, who now lives in Toronto, describes Allen as a genuine, hardworking person devoted to community service, adding he's "honest almost to a fault."
Allen has been separated for a number of years and his children are grown, Maggi said.
Maggi said it's premature for people to be calling for him to resign his seat.
"He's not even charged yet."
St. Paul attorney Sara Grewing said Allen was booked by police on suspicion of gross misdemeanour charge of solicitation of prostitution but her office is still reviewing the file to determine if he should be formally charged.
"We anticipate we should have a decision by the end of the week."
If charged, Allen would likely make his first court appearance in three months.
A conviction typically carries a 90-day jail term and a $1,000 fine, said Grewing, but a first offender could get a much lighter sentence.
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