"This is a man stricken with polio at age 8. He is a quadriplegic, capable of moving only his left index finger. When I heard about these allegations, I thought 'they must be joking,'" said St. Marie's lawyer Jim Dahlquist.
"[St. Marie] is currently breathing with a ventilator through a tracheotomy. He was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome in 2003 and has a significant amount of health problems. He has a round-the-clock healthcare assistant in his home," said Dahlquist.
Dahlquist said his client often used a computer with voice recognition technology.
The defense attorney said it was impossible for St. Marie to have been paid in sex, because it is physically impossible for him to have sex.
"He is not able to feed himself or provide himself with liquid. He's not capable of unzipping of his fly let alone some the things they allege," he said.
Police would not elaborate on the mechanics behind St. Marie's alleged payment.
"Apparently certain things function," said Sgt. Wente. "That's all I'm going to say about that."
Police said they were tipped off to the alleged ring a year ago by an anonymous source who e-mailed them to say he believed St. Marie was transporting an illegal immigrant living in Florida to work as a prostitute.
Police found and arrested that one prostitute who agreed to help them trap a customer. Impersonating both the prostitute and the john online allowed cops to glean the names and contact information of more alleged Nice Guys.
In addition to monitoring activity online, police said, they followed alleged johns entering and leaving hotels where prostitutes were believed to be working. In at least one case, cops set up video equipment in a hotel room to catch a john.
Police say they have questioned 10 alleged members of the ring, including St. Marie but have made no arrests yet. St. Marie is the only member of the group to be named publicly.
Police served St. Marie a search warrant at his home last week and removed a computer.
"Ten will be charged pending a complaint," said Wente.
Police said the johns will likely face misdemeanor charges of solicitation, but St. Marie will likely face felony charges of promoting prostitution. He could also be accused of violating the Mann Act, a federal law that prohibits the trafficking of people across state lines.
St. Marie's lawyer said the delayed arrest was unusual.
Police said they could wait to press charges. "He's a quadriplegic," said Wente, "so he's not a flight risk."