AUGUSTA — A prominent West Forks boxer got a win in the courts Thursday when he was found innocent of a prostitution charge.

A judge cleared Brandon S. Berry of a charge of engaging a prostitute stemming from a police sting last summer in Augusta. Berry, 28, was the only man who went to trial over the charge.

In all, 21 men were charged following police stings in Augusta and Waterville. All of the others pleaded guilty and were fined, while two men served 48 hours in jail as well.

Berry, who was charged in the Sept. 17, 2015, had maintained his not guilty plea.

Berry, a rising star in the region’s professional boxing circuit, has a boxing record of 11 wins, two losses and one draw.

Thursday morning, Justice Michaela Murphy granted defense attorney’s motion for a judgment of acquittal, which was made after the prosecution finished presenting its case to a jury at the Capital Judicial Center.

Berry was represented by attorney Eric S. Thistle, who is in the Lyman office of the law firm of Fairfield & Associates.

“I think obviously Brandon is very relieved,” Thistle said Thursday afternoon. “The problem with the criminal justice system is that it just takes far too long if people want to go to trial. That’s why so many accept plea offers, just to get it over with.”

He said Berry rejected numerous opportunities to plead guilty.

“He remained firm in his statements that he didn’t do this,” Thistle said.

Thistle said the police had an elaborate undercover operation and that the state presented evidence in the form of phone calls and videos.

He also said he cross-examined the state’s witnesses to show inconsistencies.

The prosecutor was Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney commented on the result Thursday afternoon by email, saying, “In this case the court did not find sufficient evidence for the crime of engaging a prostitute. However, the Kennebec Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office will continue to work together to stop human trafficking by reducing demand through the prosecution of ‘Johns.'”

The sting was conducted by Augusta and Waterville police and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. At the time, Ryan Reardon, now Kennebec County sheriff, said the operation was conducted by placing ads on the Internet and on social media, and said men went to city hotels expecting to pay for sex.

Shortly after being charged, Berry said he was confident that the charges would be dismissed.

“I can’t tell you what happened. Everything that happened was on video. That’s all I need to have this dismissed easily,” Berry said at the time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

badams@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @betadams