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    Indictments break up prostitution circuit

    ©Washington Post
    August 8, 2002

    MIAMI -- "The Circuit" had something for everyone in the market for a high-priced prostitute, federal prosecutors say.

    Tall women. Short women. Blondes or brunettes, curvy or skinny.

    Customers placed their orders and the women hopped on planes, prosecutors say, bouncing between glitzy brothels in Washington, Miami, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago and half a dozen other cities.

    But now "the Circuit" is gone, prosecutors say. A series of indictments has broken it apart, the broadest coming this week in Miami, where prosecutors announced the indictment of 13 people in Florida, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

    The indictment paints a tableau of jet-setting debauchery. The prostitutes made $350 an hour when they met customers at brothels and $400 an hour to meet them elsewhere. A prostitute shipped in from Milan, Italy, allegedly made $10,000 a week.

    When the prostitutes were in Miami, they lived and worked in $1,600-a-month suites at the swanky Four Ambassador Suites Hotel. In New York, they hung out at a penthouse brothel.

    But the prostitutes are not the ones facing indictment, though the Washington Post quoted unnamed sources as saying many of them testified before a grand jury under immunity grants. Instead, prosecutors have focused primarily on the alleged madams accused of running the brothels and manipulating the nationwide network.

    "It was sophisticated and organized," Richard Gregorie, the lead federal prosecutor in the case, said Wednesday.

    Prosecutors are relying on hundreds of hours of wiretapped phone conversations. The indictment alludes to the conversations, with madams arranging for prostitutes to crisscross the country. Some went to the penthouses and suites, others went to parties at a Miami Beach hotel and even to an electronics show in Los Angeles.

    Judy Krueger, 58, is accused of running the Miami outpost of the Circuit along with her lover Eli Tish, 70, who also was indicted Monday. The couple rented suites with views of Biscayne Bay at the Four Ambassador Suites Hotel, always paying for the expensive units with money orders, according to the indictment.

    The prostitutes also met clients for a party at the Lorraine Hotel on Miami Beach, the indictment says. One of the hotel's directors, Michael Giorgano, was the only alleged customer to be indicted.

    Another customer, Coral Gables lawyer Michael Murphy, was charged last week with fraud, accused of spending $111,000 on prostitutes provided by the Circuit, then billing his clients for the services under the guise of routine litigation expenses.

    Gregorie said other customers have not been indicted because federal statutes apply only to people who arranged for prostitutes to cross state lines or provided rooms for the women. In April, prosecutors in New Orleans were criticized in some quarters for not seeking indictments against customers. The critics accused the New Orleans prosecutors of trying to shield the customers, including members of several prominent local families, from embarrassment.

    However, at least one defense attorney in the New Orleans case -- Laurie White, who represents a Chicago woman accused of being a madam -- plans to subpoena customers when the case goes to trial in December. Similar tactics are expected from defense attorneys in South Florida if the broader Miami case goes to trial.

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    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk