N.Y. Governor Spitzer Linked To Online Prostitution Ring - InformationWeek
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3/10/2008
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N.Y. Governor Spitzer Linked To Online Prostitution Ring

Court papers show the federal wiretap investigation relied heavily on cell phone records and ISP addresses.

A prostitution ring that operated on the Internet is being linked to the governor of New York.

The New York Times cited unidentified sources Monday in a federal investigation that connects Gov. Eliot Spitzer to the Emperors Club VIP. Spitzer held a press conference Monday afternoon, saying he fell short of his own standards, but he didn't provide any specifics or details.

News that investigators busted the ring last week was followed by reports that a federal wiretap uncovered Spitzer's alleged involvement. Court papers posted online by The Times showed the investigation relied heavily on cell phone records and ISP addresses. They also recounted conversations about "Client 9" meeting with a prostitute last month at a Washington hotel, the client's desire for practices that the prostitute could consider unsafe, and the client's inclusion of extra cash for advance credit toward his next encounter. Unnamed sources identified Spitzer as "Client 9."

The news temporarily crashed the governor's official state Web site Monday afternoon.

The Emperors Club VIP Web site also wasn't operating Monday, but cached versions of the site offered "spokes models" for "elite" clients, including business executives and professionals, for thousands of dollars at trade shows, conferences, and other venues in major cities across the United States and in Europe.

At a press conference Monday, Spitzer held a press conference to apologize to his family for violating his obligations to them and his own sense of right and wrong. He said that he has tried to promote "progressive politics" in New York and plans to continue doing so. Spitzer said he would not take questions but he would report back on the situation soon.

He said he must now dedicate some time to regaining the trust of his family. Spitzer has been married for 21 years. He has three daughters, ages 13, 15, and 18.

Though he referred to the matter as private, Spitzer, a first term governor in office for just over a year, broke up prostitution rings in his former role as attorney general. He made a national name for himself during two terms as attorney general by aggressively investigating and exposing corruption on Wall Street.

Spitzer's law enforcement roots extend further back to the early '90's when he worked for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, investigating organized crime. Just over a week ago, he announced an agreement to make sex trafficking a felony. His press release said that New York is known as a frequent port of entry for human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

"Under the legislation, traffickers who advance or profit from prostitution activity by compelling, inducing, deceiving, or forcing their victims into prostitution activity can be convicted of the class B felony of sex trafficking," the announcement explained.

The law, which Spitzer signed and touted, makes it a Class D felony to knowingly sell travel-related services to facilitate prostitution. In simpler terms, it made a more serious crime out of promoting "prostitution tourism." It also elevated the lowest level of charges related to patronizing a prostitute from a Class B misdemeanor to a more serious a Class A misdemeanor.

"Updating and enhancing our human-trafficking laws to adequately punish the perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes and sufficiently support victims is critically important," he said in the press release.

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