Ex-Client of Alleged Madam Tries to Stop ABC From Airing His Name
Thursday, May 3, 2007
A former client of the woman accused of being the D.C. madam is trying to block his name from being aired on an ABC News program about her escort business and the men who patronized it, saying publicity would amount to witness intimidation, ABC said yesterday.
In a letter to ABC, Steven Salky, the man's attorney, wrote that he has "reason to believe" that his client could be named tomorrow in a "20/20" report about an alleged prostitution ring run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, ABC said. Salky would not identify the man.
The client expects to be a prosecution witness in Palfrey's federal trial on racketeering charges, Salky told ABC. Identifying him would violate a court order barring harassment of potential witnesses, he said.
The client is a well-to-do private citizen, according to a source familiar with the investigation who is prohibited from discussing it publicly.
The letter hinted at how nervous some men in the Washington area are ahead of the highly promoted, sweeps month broadcast of "20/20," wondering who will be the next man to be publicized. A deputy secretary of state who was asked in a phone call by ABC last week about his dealings with her agency resigned the next day.
Palfrey's clients included government officials, lobbyists, military officers and private citizens.
A partial page from Palfrey's Sprint phone bill from 1996 is posted on her Web site. A review of those records by The Washington Post shows that Palfrey often called the Pentagon and the Ritz-Carlton at Pentagon City.
Montgomery Blair Sibley, Palfrey's attorney, said the Ritz-Carlton was a regular location for escort "dates." He said Palfrey returned calls from customers, instructing them to meet the escorts in rooms at the five-star hotel near the Pentagon.
Sources familiar with the investigation into Palfrey's business said her business phone also logged numerous calls from Georgetown University Hospital, and there are notebooks she kept on her escorts, with photographs and specialties.
Palfrey turned over a sizable portion of her business phone records, covering 2002 to 2006, to ABC News before a federal judge ordered last month that she not take steps to intimidate or harass witnesses. Since then, ABC has been tracking down and making calls to men connected to numbers on Palfrey's phone list.
Yesterday, Palfrey questioned whether the former client is willingly cooperating with prosecutors.
"It is simply ludicrous to imagine such a thing," she wrote in an e-mail to The Post. "Frankly, who [in] the world voluntarily would want to be a part of this mess even before [it] morphed into its current form; a mess certainly to reach nuclear proportions in time."