ST. CLOUD -- A Big Lake man is accused of convincing a 13-year-old Stearns County girl to give him oral sex in exchange for an ounce of marijuana and $90.

Twenty-one-year-old Mariano Cocchiarella is also charged with soliciting a minor for sex during an undercover sting by authorities.

Authorities learned of the first crime when a foster parent discovered a conversation between the girl and Cocchiarella on her phone in June. The girl later admitted to meeting Cocchiarella during a forensic interview at the Child Advocacy Center.

The Central Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force was conducting an undercover operation earlier this month in a chat room known for children being solicited for sex when Cocchiarella allegedly made contact.

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The undercover officer was posing as a 15-year-old girl when they say Cocchiarella asked her if she was looking for sex. The undercover officer asked Cocchiarella for his phone number to make sure he wasn't a cop. He said he doesn't give out his phone number and allegedly sent a picture of male genitalia to prove he wasn't.

Court records show a meeting was set up that night but Cocchiarella never showed. He was later arrested in a traffic stop and booked into the Stearns County Jail.

Cocchiarella is charged with the prostitution of a 13-year-old, 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct with a 13-year-old, soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct, and using electronics to relate or describe sexual conduct with a child.

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