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Call girl inquiry began with questions from IRS

NEW YORK — The federal investigation into a high-end prostitution ring linked to Gov. Eliot Spitzer began last year by the IRS in a nondescript office building opposite a Dunkin' Donuts on Long Island, according to law enforcement officials.

IRS investigators conducting a routine inquiry found transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity.

Before long, investigators learned that the transactions were being manipulated to conceal Spitzer's connection to payments for meetings with prostitutes, the official said.

The investigation into the Emperors Club VIP gathered more than 5,000 telephone calls and text messages.

Four people were charged last week with running the prostitution ring. It was not immediately clear whether Spitzer could face charges. Federal prosecutors have brought charges against several prostitution rings over the past two decades, but have generally not prosecuted customers.

Investigators say the Emperors Club, which is based in Brooklyn, made more than $1-million for its operators by selling the services of women. The prostitutes were advertised on a Web site as costing $1,000 to $5,500 an hour.

Those arrested in the inquiry and charged with conspiracy to violate federal prostitution laws are Mark Brener, 62, and Cecil Suwal, 23, of Cliffside Park, N.J.; Temeka Rachelle Lewis, 32, of Brooklyn; and Tanya Hollander, 36, of Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Brener and Suwal also were charged with conspiracy to launder more than $1-million in illicit proceeds. Lewis and Hollander were accused of arranging meetings between prostitutes and clients. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Stein said he believed the arrests shut down the ring.

The business promised clients they could pay with a wire transfer that would show up on records as QAT Consulting to make it appear to be a business transaction. Client 9, who a law enforcement source identified as Spitzer, insisted on paying in cash.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Call girl inquiry began with questions from IRS 03/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:35am]
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