Roger Stone, Eliot Spitzer, Miami Velvet, and the FBI
The Miami Herald is reporting that Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone tipped off the FBI to Eliot Spitzer's patronage of prostitutes months before the Emperors Club VIP scandal broke:
Stone confirmed details of the letter, saying a high-end call girl at an adult-themed club called Miami Velvet told him she was disappointed to have missed a call to entertain Spitzer. She said her friend had taken the call, and she described the details about the socks, Stone said. He referred The Miami Herald to his lawyer for comments. [MH]
Stone had his lawyer write to the FBI in November, after the FBI asked to meet with Stone regarding some unspecified matter. According to the letter, a prostitute confided to Stone that she had been scheduled to service Spitzer. The letter claimed the the prostitute worked at Miami Velvet, a Florida swinger's club. (NSFW)
Stone refused to meet with the FBI. Instead he threw them a bone.
''The governor has paid literally tens of thousands of dollars for these services. It is Mr. Stone's understanding that the governor paid not with credit cards or cash but through some pre-arranged transfer,'' the letter said. [MH]
Roger Stone is paying good money to invite the inference that he had some role in Eliot Spitzer's demise. Remember, Stone's lawyer sent the letter to the FBI and later gave a copy to the Miami Herald. (That provenance reduces the letter's epistemic value to nearly zero.) The FBI won't say whether it received the letter. Stone's lawyer blacked out the addressee info on the copy he gave to the Herald. So, we have no independent record that the letter was sent, much less that it had any effect on the FBI's investigation.
Spitzer's tenure was brief, but he outlasted Stone. Stone was a consultant to the New York State Republicans until Joe Bruno fired him for leaving a threatening voice mail message for Spitzer's elderly father.
Some say that Stone predicted Spitzer's downfall. Stone did say that Spitzer wouldn't serve out his term, but he didn't get into specifics. After the scandal broke, he claimed that he'd known all along.
If Stone did know, the letter is a red herring.
According to the criminal complaint filed against the alleged Emperors Club ringleaders, the federal investigation of the club began circa October 2007. Stone's letter is dated November 19. The bank report showing that Spitzer was wiring money to an Emperors Club front company was generated in July 2007.
Roger Stone probably sends poison pen letters to the FBI in bulk. It's like playing the lottery for free. If a target subsequently experiences a downfall, Stone can wave the letter around and declare victory.
Still, it wouldn't surprise me if Stone had some foreknowledge of Spitzer's fate. He's a well-connected dirty trickster, after all. Spitzer was outed following a protracted federal investigation, which someone with Stone's contacts might well have found out about, one way or another.
He might have been feeding information about the FBI's investigation back to investigators in the hopes of ingratiating himself. Stone is a high-profile swinger, so setting his story in at a sex club could provide a pretext for knowing gossip about Spitzer's sex life.
The weakest part of the official story is explaining how the public
corruption investigation into Eliot Spitzer meshes with the
larger investigation of the prostitution ring as a whole. The complaint says law enforcement heard about the Emperors Club from an ex-employee-turned-informant in October 2006. Judging by the complaint, the federal investigation didn't really get underway until a year later.
The Emperors Club did have prostitutes in Miami. So, I wondered if there might be any connection between EC and Miami Velvet.
After much digging, I found nothing in the public record to suggest that Miami Velvet was associated with prostitution in general, or the Emperors Club in particular.
All in all, it seems unlikely that Stone's letter hastened Eliot's Spitzer's downfall. The investigation was already underway by the time Stone sent the letter. .
If Stone did know that Spitzer's downfall was imminent, the letter
might be a cover story to allow him to take credit for his enemy's
demise without revealing his true sources.
Miami Velvet turned out to have an interesting business model in its own right, though. Details below the fold.
Miami Velvet is a swingers' club located at 3901 NW 77 Avenue
(NSFW). The club bills itself as the largest establishment of its type in
Florida. It's not an escort service or a brothel. It's a members-only establishment where
like minded people go to have sex with each other. You pay to join the club, but the sex is free.
One patron describes his experience at the club in vivid detail here. He explains that Miami Velvet works hard to keep prostitutes out. If Stone's friend exists, it's unlikely she plies her trade at the Miami Velvet. Maybe she's just a member. Somehow, I doubt that Spitzer was attending theme orgies at Miami Velvet, with or without his socks.
Florida's Secretary of State has no record of a corporation called "Miami Velvet," but there a record of a company called Velvet Lifestyles (NSFW) headquartered at 3901 NW 77 Avenue. The copyright notice on the Miami Velvet website reads:
Miami Velvet's primary name turns out to be Globe Properties, LLC, dba Miami Velvet--according to the establishment's food service license.
The president of Velvet Lifestyles is Randy Dorfman, at 3901 NW 77 Avenue. The company's registered agent Louis R. Montello, of 777 Brickell Ave., Miami, Ste. 1070. Montello, a Miami lawyer, plead guilty to three counts of income tax evasion in 2007, according to a Justice Department press release. Montello's name shows up on documents from GLOBEX, Velvet Lifestyles, and Miami Lifestyles.
The Miami Velvet/Velvet Lifestyles building on NW 77 Ave. is owned by GLOBEX Properties,
2110 North Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, unit 27D. That address turns
out to be a luxury condo owned by Randy S. Dorfman and Mary E. Dorfman, according to Broward County tax records.
According to the most recent records from the Secretary of State, GLOBEX Properties' principal address is 3901 NW 77 Ave, its mailing address is 3231 Calusa St., and its registered agent is Randy Dorfman. In case you were wondering, Dorfman owns the house on Calusa St. property, as well as another condo in Coconut Grove.
Here's the interesting part: A non-profit called Miami Lifestyles also operates out of the 3901
NW 77 Ave. address. Randy Dorfman is the club's registered agent, and Montello was registered agent before that.
Lifestyles is a private, members only adult social club," according to Lifestyles' 2006 tax return. Its books are in the care of Mark Liebman CPA, 18205
Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, FL. Liebman also prepared the tax return.
Here's the interesting part: Miami Lifestyles took in $1,623,994 in
membership dues in 2006. That's right, a non-profit social club pulled in over
$1.6 million tax-free bucks in membership fees--apparently while the same individuals are running two for-profit membership-based swinger ventures out of the same building.
Recall that Miami Velvet bills itself as a members-only club and that it occupies the same address as Miami Lifestyles. The Miami Velvet website advertises the Velvet Lifestyles Club, which appears to be an online personals service. In turn, the Velvet Lifestyles website has a footnote that reads © 2004 - 2008 Miami Lifestyles, Inc.
"The [Miami Lifestyles] club has achieved it's goals by creating a relaxing, adventurous environment for all it's members. All of the club's resources have been devoted to maintaining a clean, fresh and upscale social club," according to its 2006 tax return.
The Miami Lifestyles paid $200,000 for occupancy in 2006. Recall
that Randy Dorfman owns GLOBEX Properties, which owns the building on
NW 77 Ave. Presumably, Dorfman's non-profit social club is paying rent
to Dorfman's property company, GLOBEX.