The leader of what authorities said was the Washington area's largest male prostitution ring pleaded guilty yesterday to charges including racketeering, credit card fraud and money laundering.
Henry W. Vinson, 29, of Williamson, W.Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Harold Greene to racketeering and credit card fraud in connection with his role as ringleader of the enterprise, which served hundreds of customers in the District, Maryland and Virginia, and which was operated out of a house on 34th Place NW, in the Chevy Chase area.
Among the clients of the ring, which advertised in local papers under such names as "Man to Man" and "Dream Boys," was Washington socialite Craig J. Spence. A well-known party-giver, Spence was found dead in a Boston hotel room last fall in what authorities have ruled a suicide.
The ring received notoriety in a series of stories in the Washington Times, which reported that the ring had served some low-level Bush administration officials, and that Spence had helped arrange a late-night tour of the White House for some friends and prostitutes who worked for the ring.
U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens said the investigation had revealed no evidence of ties to anyone "with any political or military organization," with the exception of several federal employees whose names have already been made public.
Vinson was the last of four defendants in the case to plead guilty. On Jan. 15, Robert Chambers, 39, of Upper Marlboro, pleaded guilty to money laundering and credit card fraud.
Two days later, James A. Macko, 29, of Michigan, and James Travis Smith, 23, of Florida, pleaded guilty to violations of the Mann Act.
The case broke into the news in February 1989, when law enforcement agents raided the house on 34th Place. After the raid, Vinson moved his base of operations to an apartment on P Street NW. The ring was finally put out of business in June 1989.
The enterprise, started in August 1987 by Vinson, ran with the aid of credit card accounts established in the names of other businesses, ranging from an ambulance service in Kentucky to a local catering company, prosecutors said.
According to papers filed yesterday in federal court, Chambers was the financial consultant, in charge of establishing bank accounts and paying employees.
Macko and Smith were telephone dispatchers and sometimes were prostitutes, the court papers said.
Vinson and Chambers could serve as much as 20 years on the racketeering and money laundering charges, while Macko and Smith could face up to 10 years on the credit card fraud charge, according to a spokesman for Stephens's office.