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Sunflower Farmers Markets CEO arrested in child prostitution sting

New York City -- Supermarket veteran Mike Gilliland, the founder, chairman and CEO of Sunflower Farmers Markets, was arrested after being charged in an undercover child-prostitution sting and has resigned, according to reports. Gilliland also was a founder of Wild Oats Market.

Chris Sherrell was named acting CEO following Gilliland’s resignation on Saturday, Sunflower Farmers Market said on its website. Gilliland also quit his post on the Phoenix-based Sunflower’s company's board of directors.’

"Sunflower appreciates the respect that Mr. Gilliland has shown for the company by his action, so that his personal affairs will not affect the company," Sherrell said in the statement.

The Arizona Republic reported police said Gilliland, 52, was arrested at a hotel on suspicion of felony child prostitution. Sgt. Steve Martos said it is alleged the businessman knew he was going there with the intention of paying a minor, whom he had met online, for sex.

He said Gilliland was one of eight people arrested as part of an ongoing investigation.

© 2014