In the great majority of cases in the US, Jennifer Richmond would be considered a victim and either not be arrested to begin with or would be released in short time on bond or on her own recognizance. Chances are good that she would never see the inside of a courtroom or if she did, she would be sentenced to probation and a fine.
In reality, Jennifer was in business for herself. I seriously doubt that anyone held her hand during her calls or instructed her on any specific act of prostitution. I also doubt that agreement to an act of prostitution was a requirement to be dispatched to the calls. She acted of her own free will.
Now here's the problem with being a sex worker acting of your own free will
To the powers that be, in this case the Orlando MBI, you are no longer a victim and they seek to prosecute. So an arrested sex worker that waves the white flag and says, Help me, I'm a victim, gets all sorts of perks and is rarely prosecuted or if she is, the case is eventually dismissed. Worst case scenario for the white flag waving sex worker is probation and a fine.
Refuse to call yourself a victim and the wrath of the angry MBI and the Orange County State Attorney's Office (SAO) will come down hard. A refusal to denounce sex work and scoffing at the idea of concocting wild stories about the agency owner results in the same hardline prosecution. Just ask Jennifer Richmond.
In Florida the racketeering statutes are open to conspicuously gray interpretations. Of course this also requires the participation of a judge. The Orlando MBI and the SAO could not do it without a judge's assistance. In this case, Orange County Circuit Court Judge Janet Thorpe had the right docket. Judge Thorpe sentenced Jennifer Richmond to 3 years in a Florida prison for being a sex worker that refused to call herself a victim.
Most of you read the mainstream news stories with the quotes from Jennifer stating that she made so much money, she stashed it in air-conditioning vents and under carpet or something wildly similar. I'm 95% sure that the quotes were taken out of context and this was nothing more than a joke. If under a similar interrogation with agents from a list of state and federal agencies, it actually sounds like a stupid joke that would come out of my mouth, so I get it. Rest assured that there is not a chance in hell that it's true.
Jennifer was born in 1992, which makes her 22 years old at the time of arrest this year. This woman - I hesitate to call her a 'girl' out of fear the anti-trafficking freaks will come out of the woodwork and talk their line of crap to justify receiving more government grants. There's no doubt in my mind that she was naive as to the possible consequences of being a sex worker in Orlando, but she was no victim and clearly enjoyed life.
At least she didn't lie on demand as so many do
In my own racketeering case in Orlando, all except two escorts that the MBI managed to locate that actually worked for my business, lied on demand when in MBI custody and under threat. The two that did not concoct wild stories on demand approached it more mildly than Jennifer Richmond did and left themselves some space. When testifying during my trial, the truth came out, but they were not young and naive women - both were in their 40s - and knew better than to challenge and laugh at agents that held their lives in hand while in custody.
One escort made-up anything the MBI wanted her to when threatened with a trip to jail. During my trial she was almost silent and didn't repeat the fabrications; however, she did repeat a joke I offered in response to one of her stupid questions one night. Lesson learned: Never joke with these people (agents, escorts anyone in connection to an adult business) because they are obviously unable to distinguish a joke from the facts. And people wonder why I am so serious?
What makes this case unique
Now my case was unique in that the MBI had been harassing me for many years in their quest to get rid of me. If I had lost on either count in trial, I would have been sentenced to somewhere between 12 and 20 years. Judge Anthony Johnson's docket was chosen by the state for this reason and many more. No matter what the state actors did, both prior to and during trial, Johnson ruled in their favor. The dude probably played golf with them. This was an intended railroading from jumpstreet.
Recall the case of Mark Risner, an Orange County, Florida Navy veteran that operated a brothel out of his house for a couple of years. The sentence did not receive much publicity, but certainly more than Jennifer Richmond's quiet railroading did. To date, I'm the only one that's written a word about poor Jennifer's sentence, and I can understand why they'd hide from this one. Mark Risner was sentenced to 15 years probation, adjudication withheld, and a fine - and this dude operated a brothel and had 13 counts filed!
So how does a sex worker end-up with 3 years in prison when an admitted brothel owner gets probation? This question goes out to Orange County Circuit Judge Janet Thorpe, who I must add is currently running for re-election this month. Remember - the SAO and the MBI couldn't have done this without her. Do not forget that when you vote and choose to select her opponent, because no matter what he's done, he couldn't be as bad of a choice as this witch. She sent a 22 year-old prostitute to a Florida prison for 3 years when she should have dismissed the far over-reaching racketeering charge!
Let's not pretend that Jennifer Richmond lost in trial and this absurd sentence is her payback for having the audacity to take it to trial. This is the only plea deal she was offered when she refused to direct agents to this non-existent hidden money that she cracked jokes about.
I have no clue why she would accept such a rotten deal, but it's clear that it was coerced. She should have taken her chances on a jury. I cannot imagine any Orange County jury siding with the state and the MBI in this situation as it's obvious she was over-charged to begin with and with the sole purpose of obtaining information on the agency owner. Worst case scenario would have been a hung jury and a mistrial.
Another unique factor is that Jennifer was charged alone. This was a selective prosecution, without any doubt.
I challenge any reader to name the case if you want to claim that the sentence sex worker Jennifer Richmond received is the norm today, or ever during our lifetimes, anywhere in the US. I have been researching for several days and was unable to find any same or similar cases. While I'm interested in history, I'm going to state a cutoff date as any case after 1980, because what they did to women back in 1950 is immaterial here in this context.
The MBI Past
The MBI and the Orange County SAO (namely ASA Joseph Cocchiarella) are best known in the adult business world for their coerced plea deals and use and abuse of the Florida racketeering statutes. These people did not prosecute me as my case was prosecuted by Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP), so I do not necessarily have the bias that you may believe.
I conclude this post with an excerpt from Memoirs on a specific MBI strategy used against workers in body scrub businesses (AKA massage parlors) back in 1997. From Part 2, Chapter 5, Sleeping Giants:
By the middle of 1997, the MBI was back in the news, and busy working with the IRS and a Seminole County agency raiding body scrub shops in Seminole County. Fearful of working for my escort service, my friend Felice had been working at one of the body scrubs. Felice and Cortland had closed their own service during “the amnesty program,” and she was petrified of the MBI. She thought that she was safe in Seminole County since it was out of their jurisdiction, but then the MBI gets involved anywhere that they can. I had warned Felice that she was a sitting duck in one of these places, and could be held responsible for things that other people did, but she felt that it was safer than my agency.
What the MBI did in these body scrub cases was unprecedented. Oh, charging the owners with racketeering was what they usually do; however, in this situation they also charged the workers with racketeering. Felice was charged with three counts of prostitution and one count of racketeering. The average person would believe that they must have had three solid cases of prostitution in order to file the charges this way, but that was not the case. When we realized what the MBI had done we were in a state of disbelief. They had followed customers after they left the body scrub and convinced them to cooperate. Having heard stories about the MBI tactics used to convince someone to become their witness, it was easy to understand how these men signed the statements that they did. As usual, the men were not charged.
In Felice’s case, they had one customer alleging that he had visited her on three separate occasions and she gave him a hand-job. Felice told me that this was not even true. The MBI, working with the state attorney’s office, generously offered to drop the count of racketeering if she pled guilty to three counts of prostitution; otherwise, they claimed that they would take her to trial. Imagine someone going to prison for up to thirty years for an accusation of giving a man three hand-jobs and it’s easily understood why she took their so-called deal.
For more information on sex worker rights and political and law enforcement strategies in the current frenzy to eradicate all adult business in the US, make sure to check out Norma Jean Almodovar's website for all the statistics and facts: Police Prostitution and Politics