John Lepore

A Salt Lake man has been charged with posing as an undercover police officer, picking up prostitutes and threatening to put them in jail if they didn't give him sex.

Prosecutors say John Clayton Lepore, 52, picked up at least three prostitutes in the past year, showed them a badge and claimed to be an undercover officer, according to charges filed in 3rd District Court. At least one of the prostitutes was picked up more than once.

Lepore was charged with nine first-degree felonies, including five counts of aggravated kidnapping and four counts of forcible sodomy.

Last year, Lepore picked up a prostitute in downtown Salt Lake City and "identified himself as an undercover police officer and demanded that she perform oral sex on him or else she would go to jail," the charges state. Lepore showed the woman a badge inside a wallet.

The badge was not from the Salt Lake Police Department, but it did "look legit," said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Snyder. It was unknown Wednesday where Lepore got the badge or whether it was from a real agency.

After picking up the woman, Lepore drove to an industrial area near the airport and forced her to perform the sex act, the charges state. About a month later, prosecutors say he did the same thing again to the woman.

In December of 2008, Lepore picked up the woman a third time and demanded sex but she refused, the charges state. The prostitute then questioned Lepore about the validity of his badge. He responded by telling her to get out of his car or he would kill her, according to prosecutors.

A second prostitute said she was also picked up by Lepore during that time. She said he identified himself as a vice detective and told her "she would need to provide him sexual favors or she would go to jail," the charges state.

The woman saw a badge as well as handcuffs and a gun attached to his belt. She said she was handcuffed and forced to perform oral sex.

A third prostitute reported that three months ago, Lepore picked her up, drove to a secluded area and again produced a badge and demanded sex in exchange for not taking her to jail, according to the charges. The woman said she did not believe he was a police officer. He threatened to take her to the police station and struggle ensued, she said. The woman became scared and performed the sex act.

Lepore was being held in the Salt Lake County in lieu of $150,000 bond.