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Topics relate to adult business, the War on Drugs, political prosecutions, censorship, and police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dusty's Sworn Statement

Dusty handwrote this statement and had it notarized on the way to the courthouse the day that she was finally called by the State of Florida to testify. The notary was subpoenaed on the same day, and immediately after Dusty's testimony. I have transcribed it precisely as she wrote it from my own copy. It is Orange County, Florida Circuit Court Case No. 2001-CF-015492-A, as outlined in my previous post and in Memoirs.

To: Honorable Judge Anthony Johnson Jan. 12, 2003

OSWP Case# 2001-0070-CFD Vicky Lynn Gallas

From: Suzanne Irmischer Redfern


Your honor I was called to testify in regards to the above case # by the State of Florida.

I met agent Brant Rose at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Orlando International Airport two to three weeks before my arrest in March of 1996. At the time I had no idea that he was an agent or worked for the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation. It was a Full Service call. It was on a Monday between the hours of 11:00AM – 2:00PM. When I arrived I walked into the room he asked me how much. I told him $160 per hour. He then offered me $100 extra not to use protection. I was offended. After we settled our dispute either "my way or the highway" I stayed for 20 minutes and left with $160.

I then came down with a bad case of bronchitis and didn't come back to Orlando to work for two to three weeks.

My first date back to work was the night of my arrest in March of 1996. Vicky phoned me to know a man that went by the name Tim Moody from Arkansas was in town working for Martin Marietta staying at a condo off Curry Ford Road. Shortly after I arrived I was arrested by Agent Paul Winsett. SWAT unit was hiding in garage. They came in undercover with black masks. To my surprise there behind the mask was my Last date that I ran into at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. So now I knew he worked for M.B.I. but I still had no idea who he was since he had used an alias on our first meeting.

June 2000

I awoke late afternoon to find a subpoena in my door jam from an Agent Eddie Byrons [FDLE Agent Eddy Baron] to report to M.B.I. office in late June early July of 2000. I did as requested.

I was escorted to an interrogation room with Eddie Byrons [Eddy Baron]. Shortly after Agent Brant Rose entered room and formally introduced himself. I replied I know who you are. You've lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you and he thanked me for compliment. He then questioned me about my A.T.&T. cell phone and why I had it turned off?

My answer: I was offered a better deal with Bellsouth.

Then he started asking me questions about Vicky Gallas, her business etc. – I explained that I hadn't spoken to Vicky in 2 years. (If he was monitoring my phone he would have known this). I really didn't have the answers he wanted. Then he starts asking me questions that I answered the night of my arrest. He explained that he didn't want me, he wanted Vicky and that the witness subpoena would protect me. I explained I couldn't give him information that I really didn't have because we weren't in contact.

I did phone her once after I received the witness subpoena to find out what was going on. She explained she had placed a complaint with someone at M.B.I. other than that no idea. So there I was, Brant Rose continued to ask me questions like how many times I had sex on my dates etc.--- I thought the questions were more personal than professional and I told him so.

He then started threatening me that if I didn't answer his questions that he would put me in jail. It would be 30 days before I would see a judge and if I still didn't answer they could hold me up to 90 days.

These were questions asked the night of my arrest in March 1996. It was crazy. Then it was brought up again my witness subpoena would protect me from prosecution. That's when I told Mr. Rose the snake story I heard while watching Church one Sunday. A preacher went to an Indian Reservation to try and convert the Indians to Christianity. He was conversing with the Indian Chief about traditions and how when your confirmed your considered an adult in the Christian faith. The Indian Chief explained that there tradition is to take a brave and put him into the forest from full moon to full moon and when he returned he was considered a man.

Well they took a brave and put him into the forest by a strong rushing stream. The fish were jumping, there were tall pine trees, tall mountains and on the tallest mountain there was a snow cap. The brave having time to kill decided to climb the mountain and touch the snow. When he reached the top of the mountain out crawled a snake saying Help me! Help me! to the brave. If you leave me up here I'll freeze to death and surely die. Please take me to the bottom of the mountain for I don't have legs to carry me. The brave said I will not you will bite me and fill me with your poison and I will surely die. The snake replied would I do that to such a friend that would do me the honor of saving my life? So with a lot of haggling on the snakes part the Indian picked up the snake and put him in his coat and started down the mountain. When he reached the bottom the Indian took the snake out of his jacket turned to walk away and BAMM the snake bites the Indian. The Indian then turns looks at the snake and said but you promised! And the snake replied you knew what I was when you picked me up.

Mr. Rose sat for a moment to think about what I had just said. Got angry told me he didn't want to hear any more stories and stormed out of the interrogation room. Agent Paul Winsett came in and told me my rights. I explained that I didn't have the information that Mr. Rose wanted. I hadn't spoken to Miss Gallas in almost 2 years. Then Mr. Winsett walked me out.

Then all was quiet until late August 2001. I received a phone call from Miss Gallas informing me that one of her girls was detained by Brant Rose, then he stated my name to girl named Kelly and did she know Susan Redfern and that I no longer work in Orlando because I have AIDS and did she know who I was. My answer to Vicky was I wonder who or what gave him that idea. 3 days later I received a call from a client telling me he had phoned "All Angelas," spoke to Terri Isaacs who claimed "her cop buddy told her I have AIDS." No wonder my phones stopped ringing! Well it just so happened that I had just gone to the health department for a 6 month check and the results were negative. So Vicky and I knew that Terri was in contact with Brant Rose. Vicky closed Valentines September 2001. We spoke that day she phoned to let me know. We spoke again sometime in October and then again after her arrest in November.

Sometime in the beginning of December 2001 Mr. Brant Rose came with a witness subpoena for a deposition December 20th 2001. He delivered the subpoena himself along with a Brevard County Sheriff Officer to my door. The date from Hell is also a witness in this case and asking me questions?

I contacted an attorney John Natori from Orlando, told him all the above story. He was busy on the 20th and asked to postpone the depo until after Christmas – John Craft refused! Mr. Natori referred me to James Craner who came with me to depo on Dec. 20th. I also explained all of the above story to him as well as Robert Mihalek's attorney at the time Ken Weaver.

I arrived on Dec. 20th 2001 with my attorney James Craner who was not allowed to speak or advise me. Mr. Craft stated that I would be given 30 years if I didn't answer his questions. What kind of justice is this? I'm afraid of these people that's why I brought an attorney. I have turned off all my phones and have lived in fear for the past year. I took a job where I worked 7 nights a week so no one could say I was elsewhere to discredit me as a witness for this case. I have sat outside in your hallway all week everyday – Monday – Thursday to testify.

Oh and one last thought to ponder. Tuesday afternoon Mr. Rose was sitting in hallway. I was there with my friend. I started a conversation with Mr. Rose but not pertaining to case. Towards end of conversation he mentioned that he would be over in Brevard [County] working the Boardroom case and staying at the Radisson at the Port? after this case was over? Now why would a special agent want me to know where he would be staying? I wonder?

Thank you your honor for taking the time to read my statement.


Suzanne Irmischer Redfern

[Notary information]

Trial Surprise

In Memoirs of an Accused Madam: The War on Adult Business in Orlando, chapter eight (8) is entitled: "From the Defendant's Perspective: A Bizarre Trial." Towards the end of the chapter I discuss the situation that occurred when Dusty was forced by the State of Florida to testify. Prosecutors subpoenaed her and demanded that she be present in the hallway from the moment the trial began on Monday, January 6, 2003, until they finally decided to call her to the stand on Monday afternoon, January 13th. That was their mistake.

What prosecutors didn't consider is the level of anger that she had reached by the time that they called her. Well, on Sunday evening before her testimony, Dusty handwrote a lengthy letter to the judge and then followed-up by having it notarized on her way to court on Monday morning. The act of notarizing the statement transformed it into a sworn affidavit.

I had no idea what Dusty included in the letter, and as the later investigation by prosecutors revealed, played no part whatsoever in her making the statement. In the investigation that followed her testimony, Florida's Office of Statewide Prosecution even subpoenaed the notary public that had notarized this document, and then investigated every allegation in it. The results of the investigation were hidden, at least from the defense, and shortly thereafter the file disappeared in its entirety from the Orange County Clerk of Court's office. The case is Case No. 2001-CF-015492-A. My co-defendant's (Rocky and Beth) case numbers are the same except that the letters at the end are "B" and "C" respectively.

The only thing that I know concerning the end result of the investigation is that Dusty was not charged with perjury and was not approached by prosecutors or any agent of the State of Florida again in relation to my case.

The jury was immediately sent out of the courtroom – the moment that Dusty handed the envelope with the sworn affidavit to the judge as she sat on the stand. So the jury never did get to see a copy of this affidavit and my attorney, Stephen Wolverton, was not allowed to refer to it when the he cross-examined Dusty. As I stated in Memoirs, after she presented the affidavit her testimony was quickly concluded by the examining prosecutor.

Circuit Court Judge Anthony Johnson's clerk was instructed to make copies of the affidavit for the judge, the file, the defense, and the prosecutors, so this is not a secret document by any stretch of the imagination. It did disappear with the rest of the documents in the file. The file was 3 overstuffed volumes, perhaps 6-8 inches of papers in each volume. After the disappearance from the clerk's office, the recreated file contained only some documents from the prosecutor's office, and of course this sworn affidavit was among the many missing documents. Soon the recreated file disappeared also. Today there is a file consisting of 1 volume that is 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.

I do have in my possession most documents from the original file. I have several copies of the sworn affidavit submitted by Dusty. She also gave a copy to Local News 6 investigative reporter Tony Pipitone; however, the station did not use it in their documentary on the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation. When the documentary was made back in 2003, the MBI former director exerted pressure on any news outlet. Before long the show disappeared from the station's website, but of course I have a copy of the tape that was mailed to me by Tony Pipitone. A copy of the affidavit was also given to an investigative reporter with the Orlando Weekly, but the newspaper didn't use it in their 10-page story about the MBI, "The Morality Police," by William Dean Hinton. In fact, no news outlet actually listed the correct charges that I was on trial for, or included any of the really incriminating facts concerning the MBI.

I also have all court hearings and the entire trial on CDs and obviously could prove anything that I state regarding my trial and the court hearings. I so tire of being discredited – like with the 2 reviewers of my book that state it is not believable and assert that I deserved it all. The last reviewer is clearly from the law enforcement profession – perhaps actively or perhaps retired. The MBI has friends in Tennessee – they filmed shows together on Spike TV that they also sell on Amazon.

As stated in Memoirs, I stand by all that I stated – it is a non-fiction book, and I categorized it as "true crime" with subcategories of "criminals," "criminology," and "organized crime" as the agents were the criminals that operated as an organized criminal group.

I did not include a copy of this sworn affidavit in Memoirs, though I am not sure why, except perhaps for the same reasons that I gave all of the agents of the state aliases. This case is a matter of public record and any document in the files can indeed be posted herein, published in a book, or published on the internet; regardless that the guilty parties stole the file from the courthouse. I am finished being the patsy that covers their identities to protect their privacy. Not one ever had any concern for my privacy. Today almost all involved agents are retired care of Florida taxpayers.

The next posting on this blog is the infamous sworn affidavit.

Dusty was always Dusty to me, from the moment that I met her, but her real name is Suzanne Irmischer Redfern. Suzanne was a great friend and she died on March 3, 2008.

Rest in Peace Suzanne

February 1, 1958 – March 3, 2008

The Conspiracy Charge

This is written from a defendant perspective and is not a legal guide, and no, that is not a disclaimer, but I do want the reader to understand where the point of view is derived. Some statements may be in disagreement with legal viewpoints, so don't bother to quote case law as it is immaterial herein, and chances are great that I am already aware.

Though the charging of a conspiracy has earlier roots in history, the modern use began with the War on Drugs and drug conspiracy charges. It is an available statute that is frequently misused and abused by state and federal prosecutors. I know this for fact as I was charged and tried for the Florida statutes: Racketeering (RICO), F.S. 895.03(3) and Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering (RICO), F.S. 895.03 (4).

Florida Statute 895.03(3) states:

“It is unlawful for any person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt.”

Florida Statute 895.03 (4) states:

“It is unlawful for any person to conspire or endeavor to violate any of the provisions of subsection (1), subsection (2), or subsection (3).”

I did rip apart the "racketeering" basis of the charge in Memoirs, but never really gutted the "conspiracy" allegations. I had 2 co-defendants – Rocky and Beth – and each pled guilty to the conspiracy charge (F.S. 895.04(4)). One part of the plea agreement that each entered into was to testify against me in court concerning our alleged conspiracy. The other parts involved helping agents and prosecutors develop other cases (setting other people up). Prosecutors never did call Rocky to testify for a variety of reasons, but while sitting in jail with "no bond" after our arrest, he made a lengthy and wild statement. The day that he made his statement, after spending almost 3 months in jail without a bond, he was given a $20K bond and released, a violation of the United States Constitution. The bond was an undocumented part of his plea deal.

At the base of Rocky's jailhouse statement was that he was my partner and we were in business together. The root of the entire case was an informant's statement (Theresa Isaacs/Ryssdal/Raines) that she knew that Rocky and I were in business together, and even a claim that Rocky had introduced her to me. So what agents and prosecutors did was have Rocky confirm the informant's statement after our arrest. Indeed it was a baseless allegation, but then informants make-up crap for prosecutors and agents every minute of every day in this country. It is how the system works.

Ironically, the truth as to where I met Theresa was far worse to me at that point in time. But guess what? When I testified in my defense, prosecutors did not ask the question. They knew better than to go there. By the time we reached trial, time limitations had set in and I couldn't possibly be included in the federal mess – it was too late to turn back that clock and have their informant (Theresa) and my co-defendant change their statements. When they directed Theresa to make the statement that she did to begin with, they had already reached the point of no return, and that was ten months before my arrest.

I actually met Theresa through a woman named Judy (Kathy in Memoirs) in Miami. The evil part of this is that agents and prosecutors were all too aware of exactly how Theresa met me, but chose to charge me as they did because it was more of a case than it would have been to try and include me in the federal mess. So Theresa lied and they all knew it. Florida's Office of Statewide Prosecution was working with feds prosecuting "the Circuit" case with its Miami roots. "The Circuit" case was a huge federal mess, and Theresa was at the center, though none of the defendants ever knew that as each pleaded guilty to one charge or another.

So there was my poor drugged co-defendant in the Orange County, Florida jail unknowingly cementing his own conspiracy conviction. Yes, he was on a lengthy list of psychotropic drugs while in the jail, prescribed by the State's psychiatrist.

We all know that they couldn't have all of that come out in a courtroom during trial, so prosecutors never called Rocky to testify. The next irony was that prosecutors claimed at his sentencing hearing that he didn't complete his plea deal by testifying against me and requested, and received, a 36 month prison sentence and 10 years of felony probation upon release. Of course they also received the fines and costs of $26K and poor Rocky still has 5 more years of felony probation and is still making his monthly payments.

When a conspiracy is charged alleging that 2 parties are in business together, any acts committed by one of the parties is attributed to the other. So what I got in the end was a bunch of idiotic escorts that worked for Rocky's business simply testifying as to how he did business, things he stated to them, and specific situations between each of the escorts and Rocky. I never knew any of them, but in a charged conspiracy this is entirely immaterial.

That is what a conspiracy charge can do for prosecutors, and in my case, the basis of the charge was false to begin with; a fact known by all agents and prosecutors.

Do you get it? Apply this concept to War on Drugs and War on Terror cases for the complete picture.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zealous Legal Representation

There is one primary reason that I decided to pass on law school: Zealous legal representation is hardly possible in the U.S. today due to the state of our criminal justice system. Defense attorneys that step outside of the strict bar association boundaries when defending a client are often penalized with suspension and are on occasion disbarred. There is little doubt in my mind that within one year of passing the bar exam I would have had my license to practice law suspended. Disbarment would follow in short time.

A secondary reason in passing on law school is that the great majority of clients in criminal prosecutions succumb to the plea bargain, and many become informants for the state or federal government; for me that would be a nightmare. An attorney cannot really advise a client not to be an informant or to accept a plea bargain. The attorney is more often limited by prosecutor and bar association restrictions to state the offer that is on the table and list available options. The innocence or guilt of the defendant is usually immaterial. Law is all about weighing the options.

I have known several attorneys that have had their license to practice suspended for no real reason. In each case the only crime committed by the attorney was fervent representation of the client. Do we really need to wonder why many attorneys just push paper and arrange deals with little emotion? Perhaps the need to earn a living enters into the picture, or to prevent their own prison sentence.

As I imagined myself surrounded by clients turned informant, I opted for graduate studies in history. I have been told that I made a wrong choice, though to this day I must still disagree. These days attorneys have little choice except to promote the plea deals offered, and I could never see myself as such a coordinator.

You may be curious as to what this has to do with any aspect of adult business, but the answer is simple: Close to all adult business prosecutions, and any other prosecutions, result in plea deals and there never is a trial. The feds boast that 95% of criminal defendants in federal court plead guilty. The percentage of guilty pleas in state courts varies by state and is slightly less than the federal rate, but it doesn't trail far behind.

Does this mean that close to all arrests are valid and righteous? Not by a long-shot. It means that attorneys state the options and defendants weigh them and make a decision. The U.S. has one of the most fundamentally flawed criminal justice systems in the world. Justice is indeed blind in these United States.

The Lynne Stewart Saga

Disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart's bail was revoked this past week as Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors demanded that she begin serving her 28-month sentence after the ruling was made on her appeal. What was her crime? She zealously defended a very unpopular client during the Bush/Ashcroft era of terror. Lynne Stewart was convicted by a jury in a show trial that rivaled those held by Stalin in the former Soviet Union. Lynne Stewart was betrayed by the system that she dedicated 30 years of her life to and mistakenly held in high esteem. To add insult to injury, the federal appeals court ordered the district court judge to re-sentence her, and the DOJ wants 30 years.

Just never ask me why I didn't go to law school.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Misuse of the VTVPA and Its Successors

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was enacted in October of 2000, and was last reauthorized as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007 with additional provisions written-in. The Act is often misused by prosecutors that have no valid strategy in an adult business investigation. I'll speak plainly here: If these prosecutors were as concerned as they claim that there was actual human trafficking involved in a case, each would also prosecute the male clients that patronize the adult establishments. But they know better – this group is not two beers short of a six-pack; they just pretend to be.

The perfect example of abuse of the Act is the Lev Trakhtenberg case. I've named a list of other recent cases wherein agents refer to "human trafficking" when the reality is that a massage parlor merely had workers of non-U.S. origin or was owned by an Asian-American woman, and in fact, the workers were in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. This practice creates what I'll refer to as an integrity challenge of the law enforcement or prosecutor spokesperson. Sure, human trafficking does exist in adult business and in a variety of other businesses, and the approach of using the label here, there, and everywhere has inadvertently minimized the real cases. The religious agenda also cannot be overlooked – these people want to rid the country of prostitution and often attack from the side using any weapon in the arsenal. The label "human trafficking" has become a prosecutorial weapon to garner public support in otherwise unpopular prosecutions.

In the Trakhtenberg case, the use of the VTVPA to prosecute Lev Trakhtenberg and two co-defendants was on the basis that the women dancers from Voronezh, Russia were deceived as to the type of dancing each was to do when she arrived in the US, and that each was forced to work in these New Jersey strip clubs until the agreed amount of money ($5600) was repaid. I know for fact that these were false allegations and federal prosecutors in N.Y. and N.J. were aware of the misrepresentations. Lev produced the original advertisements placed in the Russian newspaper, and the ads were clear and descriptive as to the type of dancing. Additionally, each potential dancer was interviewed at length as to her understanding of the strip club dancing prior to agreeing and traveling to the US. To take it a step further, there was evidence that several of the dancers from Russia continued dancing in the same clubs, during the case, in which federal prosecutors had them claiming they were coerced, and then upon arrival, forced to work. A few of the women that escaped the clutches of federal prosecutors and returned to Voronezh also sent sworn affidavits to Lev for his defense.

I do not have personal knowledge of any other cases; however, fail to understand how a worker in a massage parlor making thousands of dollars a month ($5K to 30K) could be considered a victim of human trafficking, or anything else for that matter. Thus far I have seen no evidence in the Rhode Island, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, or Florida cases that each of these ladies could not leave if she decided that the employment was not morally acceptable to her. These were grown women that made decisions in their lives; decisions based on free will and choice. Any one of them could have opted to work as a minimum wage slave or clean houses for a living. Referring to them as trafficking victims and dangling a work visa in front of their faces, as in the Trakhtenberg case, has only served to further damage the real victims of trafficking.

A quick look at several websites, including Polaris Project, reveals the extent that these organizations will go in promoting the cause – censorship of publishers and the anti-prostitution agenda – as each seeks to raise donations and gain federal grants. Human also utilizes a religious platform, and both consistently refer to child trafficking. Once again I'll make the point that these massage parlor workers are almost always in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and none of the cases that I have referenced involve children. It is a twist of words used to attack prostitution and has nothing to do with anything else.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Bingo Racketeering Case

Bingo parlors used to be another target of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI), but it looks like the agents of the State of Florida had their fill, and bit off more than they could chew, in the biggest of the bingo cases. I referred to the case briefly in my book, and had one important part incorrect: The two defendants and several corporations that took the criminal case to trial were acquitted on all counts by the jury. It is the civil case that they originally lost, was overturned on appeal, won, and is now once again in appeal status, according to the file. The bingo case began in 1995 and continues today.

Back in 1995 when the criminal case was filed there were 17 defendants, and 8 of those defendants were corporations. One of the acquitted defendants was Pondella Hall for Hire, Inc. – Pondella was in Orange County (Orlando), but this was a large-scale commercial bingo operation comprising 15 bingo halls in 12 Florida counties. Leave it to the overzealous MBI to be the investigators to pursue a racketeering (RICO) case. The criminal case is Case Number 95-CF-0012838, and it is an Orange County case. I have never seen so many filings on a case as this one, except in the civil case that continues. The civil case was also filed in 1995, as the state sought to forfeit all of the property of the bingo halls and the defendants. Today the victims also seek damages and losses from the State of Florida. The civil Case Number is 1995-CA-006890-0 and it is also in Orange County.

The two defendants that didn't plead guilty to the lengthy list of felony counts are Roy Killingsworth Jr. and Philip Leroy Furtney. I recall Furtney being in the news in leg-irons well over a decade ago, and must believe that it was during the criminal trial when he was being taken to court, but it may have been right after his arrest. Furtney was the one connected to Pondella, and the man is a legend – he fought these abusive overzealous whacks until he died in September of 2007. His brother Bruce, on behalf of his estate, carries on in the civil case today. The last filing on the case was on May 28, 2009. Can you imagine a 13 year fight over a bingo hall case and then to die before it's resolved? Well, it is resolved in that the state lost and has pay for all the forfeited property – today it's about how much they have to pay for property value changes and specifically what state office is paying.

It should be the end of the MBI for twisting the Florida racketeering statutes to the point of obscurity in a case that has cost Florida taxpayers an unknown sum of money that has yet to be revealed. But hey, it gave all the attorneys and agents something to do, right? I still have the MBI Governing Board minutes from meetings in 1994, and forward, wherein Pondella is discussed, so the board was well-aware of this abuse of the statutes. May Philip Leroy Furtney of Ontario rest in peace – eventually they will pay for all that they did.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Operation Plastic Empire (MBI)

Operation Plastic Empire was the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) strategy to file state charges at the heels of the IRS Operation Out Call. The operational strategy was a failure, at least at the state level and in respect to the credit card processing. It wasn't a failure in relation to its accompanying toolbox – obtaining the client names from the credit card transactions and intimidating and coercing every defendant to the point that each accepted a plea deal. And then it certainly succeeded in scaring every escort service owner in Orlando that wasn't involved, with the exception of yours truly and two other operators. By the middle of 1996, this place was almost abandoned, in part due to the Amnesty Program, and by January 1997, no escort services remained in the area yellow page books, due to the Yellow Pages Fiasco, as I refer to the MBI setup of advertising representatives.

The many cases involved in this operation were separated for reasons unknown to me. One case had five defendants, several cases had one lone defendant, and another case had nine defendants. There may be additional cases that I'm not aware of with any number of defendants. As my example here I'll use Case Number 96-CF-0011913-0. This is the case with nine defendants, A through I, and it's an Orange County, Florida case that can be found at the Orange County Clerk's Office or the basic filings can be viewed online. The last time that I viewed these files in person there were six volumes, each close to 12 inches thick, and that was without all of the depositions.

The defendants in the case:

Maritza Cascante Bobber – 26 counts
Trevor Banks Campbell – 12 counts
Rhonda Liphart – 6 counts (Rhoda in my book)
Debra Watson – 2 counts (Diana in my book)
Elizabeth Helen Clifton – 12 counts
Christopher Batura – 12 counts
Robin Janeen Dickinson – 20 counts
Joseph Formosa – 14 counts
Steven Voss – 8 counts

Each defendant was charged with Racketeering, a 1st degree felony, and Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering (RICO), also a 1st degree felony. Each first degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in a Florida prison – that's what these statutes accomplish. The MBI uses them in most prosecutions. Beyond this, every defendant except Debra Watson had at least one count, and most had many counts, of the following:

Unlawful Transport of Currency
Illegal Factoring of Credit Card Transaction
Money Laundering

Each charge, and every count, that these defendants faced, is a felony. There were no misdemeanors charged in this case. Maritza Cascante and Joseph Formosa still have a capias (warrant) for their arrests – neither showed for sentencing and both jumped bond. Debra Watson left town the minute that she heard the MBI was looking for her, and was therefore never arrested. Her charges were finally dropped in 2003. The defendants that remained made deals that included probation, jail time, years in prison – it varied, except in each case there was eventually probation. The Violation of Probation (VOP) charges began in 04/1998 and the last VOP was filed in 02/2002. I did know several of these defendants, but one that I did not know contacted me from jail while awaiting trial: Trevor Campbell related much of the information I know about the case that is not findable in the files. He was looking for help to fight the charges and had no intention of pleading guilty to anything. I felt sorry for him, and I did speak to his court-appointed public defender, but the attorney had no real clue how to fight the case and didn't sound like he intended to. At the time I was law-ignorant and there was nothing that I could do to help Trevor.

In the end, statements from the clients of the credit card transactions, including many from out-of-state that I read in the file, convinced these defendants to take the plea deal. As the appeals continued through the Florida court system, pleas to anything relating to signing-up for a merchant services account were tossed out. These files are mixed-up because of this – a judge stated that a defendant could not know that the merchant services operation handled offshore was not legal. This is a fact – I remember Debra Watson's story well. She signed-up and received a package that looked absolutely legal. I saw it. Several defendants had extremely high bonds because of the number of felonies charged and they couldn't get out of jail. Beyond this, it was the intimidation, threats of decades in prison, and court-appointed public defenders that had no clue. This was one of the biggest operations in escort service history, considering the many defendants in the list of cases and the extensive list of felonies charged to each, yet few people have any idea that it existed.

Next: The Amnesty Program

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Operation Out Call (IRS)

What began as an IRS sting, Operation Out Call in the Dallas, Texas IRS office, soon evolved into Operation Plastic Empire, in Orlando, Florida, a Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) brainstorm, which soon led to the Amnesty Program, also described in my book.

Operation Out Call was a sting the IRS dreamed-up to target escort services that accepted credit cards back in 1995. The IRS busted and then took-over Electronic Merchant Services (EMS), a company that processed credit cards for adult businesses. When it was still EMS I almost signed-up with it, with almost being the operative word. I met the EMS area representative at my office, but the paperwork required that I write-in the "type of business" and I wrote "escort service" which resulted in the rep ripping-up the contract and stating that I needed to write "tour company" or something else. I informed him that all of my business licenses, city and county, stated "escort service" so I couldn't do that. I told the guy:

"I think that's credit card factoring, or something like that, when you process credit cards by claiming to be something else. Who knows? I'm not an attorney, but what's wrong with writing the correct type of business?"

Soon he was packing his processing machine back in the box, picking-up his papers, and exiting. Quite a few people – escorts and a booker – were ticked off at me that day. We were doing little business because just about every other agency accepted credit cards.

This transpired prior to the IRS taking over EMS and signing-up escort services all over the country. I was later contacted, on several occasions, by the IRS to sign-up to accept credit cards. They had some man that sounded like a New Jersey thug calling me in an attempt to entice me, and then drilling me as to why I refused the offer. This strategy in itself gave me a clue that something was amiss. He didn't leave me alone until I told him why I'd never accept credit cards: At my agency the clients will get their privacy whether they want it or not – if I wanted the bank and the government to have client lists, I'd just fax them over a copy. The agent said that he understood my point and never called me again.

At the same time I had potential clients (really the MBI) calling me in force wanting to use credit cards, and then stating some form of "oh I understand – you are avoiding paying taxes." This continued to the point that it was absurd. Soon I was just hanging-up the phone as soon as I heard "credit card" – my ads were close to the only ads without credit card emblems. They did manage to sign-up around 15 agencies that had at least a hundred ads in area yellow pages though. I was one of very few that passed and several other agencies already accepted credit cards via other processing companies. Incidentally, EMS (and the IRS) charged 18% to process the transactions.

The MBI began working with the IRS on this operation and the agency was now privy to information concerning the credit card holder's name, address, bank etc…. For the MBI, each credit card user was now a potential state witness.

The story about IRS Operation Out Call is still available in the July 22, 1996 issue of New York Magazine that is published in Google Books. I had it embedded in the footer of this blog, but Blogger no longer allows frames, so go to the link and the story, titled "The Love Float," starts on page 30, which actually states, "The Screwball Scheme" as title: The Love Float by Daniel Green