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March 23, 2008

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.

Stone is also Watergate/CREEP veteran who sports a Richard Nixon tattoo on his back. He's the class act behind the anti-Clinton 527, Citizens United Not Timid.

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: © 2001-2008 Velvet Lifestyles, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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.

"Miami 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.

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Comments


Byzantine! Yet, fascinating.

Congratulations- you have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about. Spitzer was dirty. Stone may or may or may not have had some role in bringing him down. You are a " journalist"? Funny Ive never seen you published anywhere but here. As for who owns the Miami Club- who cares? Relelvance.

Suggestion- find some new line of work.

A Stoneite

A few years back I remember Stone's and his wife's... um... peculiar appetites for sex came to light when someone found a copy of an ad they placed at a "swingers" website (or maybe it was a print venues).

At any rate, love the way "A Stoneite" (and love the name; so expressive!) finds no moral equalivalences between Democrats and Republicans.

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.

The Ignore Magazine columnist does report that a representative of the club claimed "that Velvet has no tolerance for prostitution or drugs," I didn't see any account of the hard work the club does to keep prostitution out. Did I miss something?

In any case, I'm don't think Stone claims that Spitzer visited Miami Velvet. Rather, he says that a prostitute whom Stone met at the club was the source for dirty tricksters allegation that the former governor hired a sex worker in Miami.


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.

Relelelevance indeed. As an owner of a Florida condominium complex, Mister Dorffman is clearly a respectable member of the rentier class. What animus could he possibly have against Spitzer's spindly black-clad shanks, or his quixotic effort to regulate institutionalized mortgage graft?

Stone is trying to cast himself as the wizard who brought down Spitzer. Why else would he direct his lawyer to distribute a copy of his letter to the FBI to the press?

That's just self-aggrandizement on Stone's part. Assuming he sent that letter, it is unlikely it had any effect on the Governor's fortunes. The investigation was already underway by the time the letter was allegedly sent.

Stone didn't bring down Spitzer. Or, if he did, it wasn't with that November 19th letter.

See this for related information:

http://www.gregpalast.com/elliot-spitzer-gets-nailed/

"Stone is trying to cast himself as the wizard who brought down Spitzer. Why else would he direct his lawyer to distribute a copy of his letter to the FBI to the press?"

Exactly Lindsay ... he was bouncing around Spitzer for a time before this, and other people were trying to figure out what the deal was.

Now, with hindsight, it's pretty easy to see what's going on. He had damaging info on Spizter and wanted to see if he could get him to buckle before bringing out the big guns.

Spitzer didn't, and Stone was finally able to get a clear shot at him.

The only real positive from all this (besides getting someone fundamentally corrupt out of office) is that Stone is, even by conservative "standards" pretty incompetent and lazy.

If this is how ingratiates himself into being part of the GOP party machine, then their standards are really slipping, and whatever they will throw at a given liberal candidate will have a greater chance of failing.

Are you all so stupid you cant read? the FBI contacted Stone- not the other way around- so " the Provence of the letter is ZERO"
while cool rhetoric
is FALSE, WRONG, Lousy Journalism- but then who ever heard of Lindsay Beyerstein- kook blogger.

If you want to be a jornalist at least try to get the facts right.

Stone is incompetent and lazy?

Let's see

- he stole the 2000 Fla re-count for Bush
- he destroyed the Reform Party .
- he innoculated Bush on the Texas Air National Guard issue
- he took Spitzer out

What a track record of lazyness and incompetence!

Get a life liberals- your shining knight Spitzer was a arrogant, smug rich boy who turned out to be a common criminal.

Stone didn't take Spitzer out. Spitzer took Stone out of his $20,000/month consulting gig for the New York Republicans. Or, more accurately, Stone's incompetence and venality took him out of New York when he proved himself too sleazy and stupid for Joe Bruno--by leaving a threatening and bizarre rant on Bernard Spitzer's voicemail for no reason...

Stone retreated to lick his wounds.

If Stone sent that letter to the FBI, it didn't bring Spitzer down. There was nothing in the letter that would have helped the feds catch Spitzer for the EC. The letter contained second- and third-hand allegations about Spitzer's connection to unrelated entity.

Besides which, the letter was sent at least a month after the feds had already started investigating Spitzer and the Emperors Club. By this point, they already had his SAR, the HSBC reports on the front companies, and a confidential informant detailing the operations of the Emperors Club.

Stone's letter didn't bring down Spitzer. Stone's a pathetic has-been who wants to burnish his brand as a cut rate Karl Rove.

Don't be so credulous. Stone is trying to take credit for something he had nothing to do with.

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Lindsey,

You have no idea what you're talking about, little dykey girl.

Rog

Listen Look you really lost focus in your article it's not interesting that you don't understand business nor how to make money so the inter-financial loop that these Velvet Lifestyles people created isn't criminal it's just smart and that's from a business. Matter of fact what they did might have applications in my business. Also you never really closed on the initial topic wtf I feel like I've just wasted a part of my life reading this abruptly assembled, ill-mannered Picasso of an article like seriously it was getting good but you never connected financial manipulation into criminal action nor motive for criminal action so it was alot to be desired sorry.

Randy Dorfman is a scum bag he has been evading tax's for years and running side prostitution ring for years.

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