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Spitzer Warrant Affidavit

Here's a (redacted) copy of the actual affidavit supporting various search and arrest warrants in the Spitzer case. It gives a better feel for the seriousness of the allegations than some of the general speculation I've seen elsewhere.

John (mail):
Both the facts asserted, and the law referenced, in the affidavit seem to have to do with federal anti-prostitution and money laundering laws as they are implicated in the defendants' conduct. Though Kristen and client-9 make their appearances, the criminal allegations are not directed to client-9.
3.13.2008 2:08am
CrazyTrain (mail):
Judge Cassell -- As a crime victims' rights advocate, I'd be very curious to know your views on prostitution. Although often called a "victimless crime," that is far from always the case; indeed, it is likely usually not the case. However, the victims, as I see it, of prostitution are usually the prostitutes themselves. Many of them are foreign women smuggled into the country and forced to turn tricks for some shady, mafia-tied figures.

As a crime-victims' rights advocate, don't you find it odd that the most serious victims of these crimes are subject to criminal prosecution themselves? And although they may not in fact be prosecuted often in situations I described above, they can, and are, threatened with prosecution in order to get them to testify to some horrific and humiliating things that happened to them. Don't you find this unfair to victims?

Prosecution as a crime is unique in that the victims of it are almost always themselves also subject to criminal sanction for being a victim of the crime. And the most willing accomplices to the crimes, the Spitzers &Vitters of the world, are rarely if ever prosecuted. So, we have a situation where the crime victim is not only victimized by some horrific criminal conduct, but also is threatened with criminal prosecution for being the victim of that conduct. I would think this would disturb a crime victims' advocate very deeply.

Alternatively, if you just don't think these are the types of victims that are serious enough for special advocacy for the victims thereof (a fair view given that, many times, prostitution is a victimless crime) , shouldn't you oppose the government's wasting of valuable prosecutorial resources on such crimes?

I am very curious to hear your views on these issues.
3.13.2008 3:13am
OrinKerr:
Interesting set of questions, CrazyTrain.
3.13.2008 3:21am
neurodoc:
OrinKerr: Interesting set of questions, CrazyTrain.
Except there is little, if anything, in the biographical sketch of Kristen to support the characterization of her as a "victim," that is someone who did not know what they were getting into and willingly undertake it. Not like trying drugs and winding up addicted, either, unless "addicted" is to be understood as unable to resist the temptation of money and the life.

And is it Crazy Train ("As a crime victims' rights advocate, I'd...") or Judge Cassell ("As a crime-victims' rights advocate, don't you...") who is the "crime victims' rights advocate," whatever "rights" those are?
3.13.2008 3:34am
Dave N (mail):
I suspect that the history behind prostitution laws was an attempt to dampen down the spread of venereal diseases--so neither the prostitute nor the "john" is the victim in this case--but rather society as a whole.

Thus, I think CrazyTrain's argument starts from a false premise--that the prostitutes are "victims" of this crime.

This is different from human trafficking, usually for prostitution purposes--in which the prostitute is indeed a victim. I would hope that CrazyTrain would agree with me that combatting THAT crime is certainly worth the police efforts of the federal government.
3.13.2008 3:36am
Dave N (mail):
By "this crime," I was referring to prostitution in general--and not specifically to Eliot Spitzer and his career as Client-9.
3.13.2008 3:37am
OrinKerr:
Except there is little, if anything, in the biographical sketch of Kristen to support the characterization of her as a "victim," that is someone who did not know what they were getting into and willingly undertake it.

Neurodoc, I think it's pretty clear that CrazyTrain is asking about prostitution generally, not the specific instance of "Kristen."
3.13.2008 3:41am
donaldk:
Most of the law against prostitution springs from the fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying life. This is an entirely separate matter from human trafficking, which is tantamount to slavery and a vicious criminal offense.

Prosecution has been very often related to the enforcement of a monopoly benefitting vice squad officers.

In more civilized societies (just kidding), mainly German-speaking, prostitution is regulated and physician-inspected. The girls are looked upon, by me anyway, as providing something valuable. They do happen to come mainly from eastern Europe, and need the money. So???

I wonder at people who think it less disgraceful for a man to indulge himself with a mistress rather than to employ prostitutes. Concerning what is wailed about as a "betrayal" of his wife, is it not obvious that the emotional attachment, absent in the latter case, is the principal harm (if any)? And further, depending on the economic status of the household, the rental payments for Lady #2's flat, the flowers, jewelry, and expensive dinners out.
3.13.2008 8:25am
NI:
I think CrazyTrain may be correct that many prostitutes lead miserable lives, but I think that's due in large part to the fact that both prostitution and drugs are illegal. A drug addict who could buy quality drugs at reasonable prices over the counter at CVS or Walgreens would not have to support her drug habit with prostitution. Likewise, legalized and regulated prostitution would probably end many of the abuses by pimps (and law enforcement). This is another example of government making an existing problem worse.
3.13.2008 8:57am
Guest101:
I'm not sure about that, NI. Nicholas Kristof has an interesting article about prostitution in the NYT today, which points out the Netherlands' experience in which "nurtured a large sex industry and criminal gangs that trafficked underage girls, and so trafficking, violence and child prostitution flourished rather than dying out." While it sounds appealing, legalization might not be the solution to the problems associated with exploitation of sex workers. Kristof doesn't talk about the experience with legalization in Nevada, though; does anyone know whether trafficking or violence against prostitutes are problems there?
3.13.2008 9:20am
Temp Guest (mail):
While prepping to teach a graduate-level course, I did a fair amount of research into prostitution. The subject is much too complex to discuss in a short post but a couple of points are worth making: (1) Even when "legalized" or de-criminalized prostitution is inevitably associated with crime and other problems. A moment of thought suggests that the industry attracts persons with personality disorders that foster criminal behavior, is a natural breeding ground for crimes like blackmail and extortion, and is assopciated with the provision of other ancillary illegal services such as illicit drugs. (2) Prostitution [even among the lowest echelon streetwalkers] usually pays a much better wage than the sex workers [who are usually ill-equipped for any other type of similarly lucrative employment] could even imagine making in a more legitimate profession. (3) Studies suggest that sex workers usually exhibit debilitating personality disorders that usually pre-exist and are exacerbated by their work.

Those interested might compare the long-term results of "legalization" in Sweden vs the Netherlands and compare tgese results with de-criminalization and toleration policies in other countries. The bottom line seems to be that prostitution is neccessary for some men (about 15% - 20% of men in the USA report ever using a prostitute) but it fosters an inordinate amount of human misery in comparison t9o whatever social functions it may fill.
3.13.2008 9:42am
NI:
In any profession there will be those who try to exploit others. There were and are sweatshops, but we don't shut down factories. There have been cases of judges who take bribes (and occasionally some who even get caught) but we don't shut down the judiciary. If the standard is that no industry will be permitted to operate until it can be guaranteed that nobody will be exploited then there will be no industry. I wish we lived in a world in which nobody tried to take unfair advantage, but we don't.

So instead of a flat ban on prostitution, regulate and enforce tough rules about minors and coercion.

I suspect it's true that some people become prostitutes because of personality disorders. I suspect there are others who become prostitutes for the same reason other people flip burgers and detail cars: It's the best economic deal they can get given their skills and intelligence. If a sex worker can make two or three or five times as much money doing that as he can detailing cars, why begrudge him doing what the rest of us do: using the assets he has to make as good a life for himself as he can?
3.13.2008 10:08am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
NI, the "enforce tough rules about minors and coercion" is a pretty common refrain. But it's so much, much easier said than done.

How do you stop somebody from being "coerced" into prostitution? And what does being "coerced" mean in that context? If they start hooking because (as Temp Guest notes) they're not really suited for anything beyond a flipping burgers job paying minimum wage, and they'd simply rather make more money as a prostitute, have they been "coerced"? Many feminists, at least, would say yes indeed. What about the Eastern European woman brought to the states, who will have no place to go if she leaves the brothel, and whose "boss" threatens to kill her if she talks to the cops? Are you going to provide safe houses and new identities for those women? Provide a process to take her away and give her a new life based just on her declaring to the officer that she's been "coerced" into being a prostitute?

When you get down into the gritty reality of it, it really can't be done. And minors? Impose all the "show your birth certificate" requirements you want, you're still going to get minors in the mix, just as you do now. Traci Lords managed to make dozens of porn movies despite being a minor. Talked to any college kids lately. Do you have any idea how easy it is to get a fake driver's license?

There are decent arguments to be made on both sides. Neither continuing to criminalize prostitution nor legalizing it will solve all the problems associated with it. In the U.S., we've generally adopted a policy of relative tolerance with mostly occasional law enforcement actions designed mostly to keep it in check, not eliminate it. That's not an entirely irrational policy and has had, I think, at least some success in minimizing the worst, most coercive effects while keeping it available for the men and women who seek its benefits.
3.13.2008 10:46am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Also, NI, I don't think many women turn to prostitution to support drug habits because drugs are so expensive. As Temp Guest notes, I think they turn to prostitution because they can make more money doing that than just about any other job they have the skills and capabilities to do... particularly once they've become a drug addict. Oddly enough, in a free market few people really want to hire crack-heads and meth addicts. If the prostitute becomes a drug addict, she's going to need to hook even more, not because of the cost of the drugs, but because that's the only job she'll be able to get.
3.13.2008 10:49am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
While prepping to teach a graduate-level course, I did a fair amount of research into prostitution.

Maybe Spitzer should have tried using this as an excuse. :)
3.13.2008 10:53am
springjourney (mail):
prostitution should be legal period.
It is not a government business to tell people do with their bodies as long as it is not harmful.
Prostitution is a right, it is similar to right to be married.
As a human being everyone have a right to choose how to build his/her personal life, if sex is necessity it should be available to everyone, period.
3.13.2008 11:09am
nonya:
what springjourney said
3.13.2008 11:16am
NI:
PatHMV, if I understand your position correctly, you're objecting to legalizing prostitution because some minors will slip through and there will be some exploitation and because the practicalities of how to look after those who really have been victimized haven't been worked out yet.

With respect, there is no such thing as an industry that could stay open if held to that standard. Minors slip into all kinds of places they're not supposed to be -- bars, the military, jobs -- but we don't shut those things down. Instead we concentrate on enforcement, we heavily fine employers and bartenders who don't take steps to keep them out.

On the coercion issue, I'm sorry but the feminist position is beyond absurd. Think about the ramifications of that position: This morning I hauled out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and went to work, even though I'd much rather sleep late and lounge around the house all day, because if I don't work I can't pay my bills and I lose my house and I can't put groceries on the table. So is my job coercive? Should I sue my boss for slavery?

The fact is that each of us makes choices every day that we would not make if we were independently wealthy, better looking, unencumbered by children and other responsibilities, etc. We try to make the best choice of the choices available, even though in a perfect world we'd choose something else. Sure, some people go into prostitution because of hard luck. People do lots of things because of hard luck. The remedy is not to deprive everyone of their choices.
3.13.2008 11:19am
Aultimer:

I suspect it's true that some people become prostitutes because of personality disorders.


And others become law firm partners, CEOs and politicians.
3.13.2008 11:27am
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):

Most of the law against prostitution springs from the fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying life.


You cite no evidence to support this claim. I suspect that's because it's nonexistent.
3.13.2008 11:29am
David M. Nieporent (www):
PatHMV, if I understand your position correctly, you're objecting to legalizing prostitution because some minors will slip through and there will be some exploitation and because the practicalities of how to look after those who really have been victimized haven't been worked out yet.

With respect, there is no such thing as an industry that could stay open if held to that standard. Minors slip into all kinds of places they're not supposed to be -- bars, the military, jobs -- but we don't shut those things down. Instead we concentrate on enforcement, we heavily fine employers and bartenders who don't take steps to keep them out.
The other problem with the argument is that this also happens where prostitution is illegal. Decriminalizing it doesn't create the problem. If we could solve these issues by criminalizing prostitution, then maybe that would be an argument for it. But making it illegal just harms the people one is purporting to help.


Disclaimer: I wouldn't have sex with Eliot Spitzer even once for $80,000.
3.13.2008 11:44am
MR (mail) (www):
For what it's worth, smoking gun had the client 9 part of this affidavit posted within hours of the news breaking.
3.13.2008 11:50am
Dan Weber (www):
Prosecution as a crime is unique in that the victims of it are almost always themselves also subject to criminal sanction for being a victim of the crime.

I know that first word was probably just a typo for prostitution, but it's still funny, especially because of how Spitzer used his power as a prosecutor to enhance his bullying skills.
3.13.2008 11:50am
springjourney (mail):
what springjourney said



Sorry, I was in the hurry. English is not my native language (as our government says, you have to respect immigrants because they are good for the U.S. economy ;)).
I was trying to say that there is no compelling reason to make prostitution a crime.
And actually I will be for gay marriage immediately, once prostitution become legal.
3.13.2008 11:52am
NI:
So, David, how much would you take to have sex with Eliot Spitzer?
3.13.2008 11:53am
Aultimer:

Prosecution [Prostituion?] as a crime is unique in that the victims of it are almost always themselves also subject to criminal sanction for being a victim of the crime.


Not unique - distribution of controlled substances and sale of alcohol to a minor (at least where underage possession is criminalized) come to mind.
3.13.2008 1:01pm
Fub:



PatHMV wrote at 3.13.2008 9:49am:
Also, NI, I don't think many women turn to prostitution to support drug habits because drugs are so expensive. As Temp Guest notes, I think they turn to prostitution because they can make more money doing that than just about any other job they have the skills and capabilities to do... particularly once they've become a drug addict.
That is an argument to reduce the attraction of prostitution by legalizing drugs.

If legal, drugs would be less expensive, therefore less money would be necessary to buy them, therefore less need for the higher paying job of prostitution.
Oddly enough, in a free market few people really want to hire crack-heads and meth addicts. If the prostitute becomes a drug addict, she's going to need to hook even more, not because of the cost of the drugs, but because that's the only job she'll be able to get.
"Hooking" generally refers to streetwalking, which is not always acceptable even where prostitution is legal. Crackheads and meth freaks are not likely to be very successful as prostitutes, or even hookers, any more than any other line of work.

But these and all other arguments aside, I don't think most people's political decisions about morals prohibitions, whether prostitution, drugs, gambling, or rock 'n roll, are made particularly rationally. Statistics and cost/benefit analysis are rarely persuasive to voters or legislators who have deep personal revulsion issues governed by "ick factors". And many, maybe most, people have major ick factors about anything that involves sex, altered consciousness, gambling, or even just Dionysian celebration in general.

I tend to agree generally with donaldk at 3.13.2008 7:25am:
Most of the law against prostitution springs from the fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying life.
I think peoples' decisions about the legal regime they want is somewhat more complex than that, but that is the core. When the cultural norm is "That's not my cup of tea, but to each his own", then there are fewer laws prohibiting these very personal choices. When the cultural norm is "I don't like that, so it is evil and must be stamped out", then the prohibition laws arise.

Many decades ago I had the privilege to know a woman who singlehandedly and successfully led an early 20th century crusade in a major city to forbid saloons from having window curtains. Her reasons were quite specific: the curtains allowed women who entered the saloons to be coerced into prostitution "behind closed doors".

She didn't crusade to prohibit alcohol, or saloons, or even prostitution generally. She just insisted on preventing abuse by exposing it to public view.

I think that is the right approach to prostitution, drugs, gambling, and any other human behavior that people tend to judge by "ick factor". Don't prohibit the adult behaviors or transactions, but expose and prosecute what are overwhelmingly popularly understood as abuses, under laws that already exist against coercion, involvement of minors, and the like.
3.13.2008 2:19pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'2) Prostitution [even among the lowest echelon streetwalkers] usually pays a much better wage than the sex workers [who are usually ill-equipped for any other type of similarly lucrative employment] could even imagine making in a more legitimate profession.'

Based on my interviews of sex workers who are not (nominally) prostitutes (ie, bar hostesses), I'd say that's both true and not true.

Like armed robbery, it looks to the novice like easy money. So they begin.

As it works out, though, over even a medium term, net-net, it probably does not pay as well as clerking.

At least in the hostess-bar business as regulated in my county, it leads to a kind of debt-peonage to the mama-sans. (The bar managers are mostly Koreans, the hostesses mostly Korean but latterly being replaced by Vietnamese. The hostesses frequently get into the country by marrying GIs, then divorcing them.)
3.13.2008 3:16pm
Dave N (mail):
Legalized prostitution in Nevada has its own sordid side.

The most famous brothel owner,Joe Conforte, is in Brazil rather than face federal bankruptcy fraud charges.

His nephew, David Burgess, also runs a brothel and is currently facing federal child pornography charges in Wyoming.

I certainly do not want to tar all Nevada brothel owners with a broad brush--but these two prominent ones sure give their profession a bad name.
3.13.2008 4:54pm
darelf:
Why is every little activity our imaginations can devise for us to participate in suddenly a "right"? Prostitution is a right? Really?

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?
3.13.2008 5:18pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Having read The Jungle and Sister Carrie in my youth, to me, prostitution seems to be inherently exploitative. If the supply side was clamoring for legalization, I would respect that. But the pro-legalization support seems to be on the demand side.

In Sweden, prostitution is legal; patronizing a prostitute is not. To me this would seem to level the playing field.
3.13.2008 5:25pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
As I said, women will be exploited and minors will work in the business whether prostitution in legal or illegal. Personally, I think that making it illegal, but without excessive levels of enforcement, strikes a pretty decent balance to help minimize the damage caused by prostitution while acknowledging the reality of a certain number of males' sex drives. I agree that there are legitimate arguments to be made on the other side. What I disagree with is the argument that "hey, if we just made prostitution (or drugs, for that matter) legal, all those problems would go away!" Some of the problems of prostitution are caused by the nature of prostitution itself, just as some of the problems of drug use are caused by addiction to drugs; not all of the problems caused by those twin evils are a result of them being illegal. Legalization would help some problems and exacerbate others.

Arguing that all harm caused by prostitution would go away if only it were legalized is rather like John Kerry arguing that all our problems with Iran and Iraq would go away if we would just talk to the Europeans some more.
3.13.2008 5:50pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Dave N (no relation), but neither of those alleged crimes has anything to do with their involvement in prostitution.


And NI:
So, David, how much would you take to have sex with Eliot Spitzer?
Ugh. Seven figures. And then I'd lie back and think of England.
3.14.2008 2:08pm