Rothman’s Chief of Staff Accused of Soliciting a Minor

Posted November 23, 2010 at 5:03pm

Correction Appended

Updated: Nov. 23, 6:50 p.m.

Rep. Steven Rothman fired his chief of staff after the top staffer was arrested Thursday and accused of soliciting sex from a minor, a spokesman for the New Jersey Democrat said Tuesday.

Robert Decheine, who has worked for Rothman since 2003, was arrested in Gaithersburg, Md.

Rothman spokesman Aaron Keyak said in a statement Tuesday that House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood contacted the lawmaker Friday to tell him of the arrest, at which time Rothman contacted the House counsel and fired Decheine “due to the very serious nature of this charge.”

“Congressman Rothman considers this alleged criminal act to be shocking, appalling and indefensible,” Keyak said. “As a parent, he understands the vital importance of protecting our children from predators.”

Decheine has also been a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in New Jersey and chief of staff to Rep. Bill Luther (D-Minn.), who left Congress in 2003.

Rothman appointed Legislative Director Marc Cevasco as the acting chief of staff.

According to a news release Tuesday from the Gaithersburg Police Department, police have arrested 11 people in a sting operation that began last week and was designed to combat the sexual solicitation of minors.

The operation consisted of putting an ad on a “known website” and using an undercover police officer to conduct “an exchange of services or expectations,” according to the release.

According to the District Court of Maryland’s website, Decheine, 48, was charged with sexual solicitation of a minor Thursday and was released the same day after posting bail.

Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

Correction: Nov. 23, 2010

The article misstated which day Robert Decheine was arrested. He was arrested Thursday.