Courts

Aug 27, 2012 9:46 PM by Siera Santos

Founder of Sunflower Market pleads guilty in child prostitution case

PHOENIX (AP) - A Paradise Valley businessman accused in a child prostitution case last year has pleaded guilty to attempt to commit pandering.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 53-year-old Michael C. Gilliland entered his plea Monday. His faces an Oct. 9 sentencing.

Gilliland founded Sunflower Farmers Market, which has 35 retail stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Texas.

He resigned as the company's CEO in February 2011 after his arrest.

Police took Gilliland into custody at a Phoenix hotel as part of a sting operation in which an undercover officer posed as a 17-year-old prostitute.

According to court records, Gilliland met the "girl" on a website and agreed to meet in person and pay her $100 for sex.

He was later indicted on one felony count of child prostitution.

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