Wiretaps, Rookie Hookers and Client No. 9

By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 13, 2008; A01

Temeka Rachelle Lewis dialed her boss in late January, fed up with the headaches of small-time business. She had spent more than three years coordinating prostitution appointments across the globe for the Emperors Club, and the job often kept her on the phone solving problems until after 11 p.m. There were rookie hookers who expected $5,000 an hour, mothers who left clients early to fetch their children, high-priced call girls who were clueless about how to imprint a credit card.

Now, Lewis called her Emperors Club boss Mark Brener with the latest tale of employee incompetence. On Jan. 29, she explained, one of the club’s regular prostitutes had missed an appointment and sent “crazy text” messages. Lewis surmised that the prostitute was probably using drugs.

“A lot of these girls deteriorate to this point,” Lewis observed.

The Emperors Club was riddled with problems long before charges were filed early this week and New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer — aka client No. 9 — resigned from office after an encounter with “Kristen,” a 22-year-old woman now identified as a would-be singer from South Jersey. In a 55-page affidavit detailing the FBI‘s investigation of 5,000 Emperors Club telephone calls and 6,000 e-mails, the business sometimes sounds less like a sophisticated sex ring than an overstressed start-up.

The FBI investigation utilized undercover agents, parking-lot surveillance and the full power of wiretaps to compile a uniquely complete portrait of modern prostitution. Emperors Club made more than $1 million over three years and paid about $400,000 to more than 50 prostitutes. On its Web site, it promised clients that Emperors Club services would make life “more peaceful, balanced, beautiful and meaningful.”

The four business coordinators — Brener, office manager Cecil Suwal, and schedulers Lewis and Tanya Hollander — dealt with a litany of everyday problems in catering to wealthy men around the world. They complained of lackluster advertising in Los Angeles, nervous new employees who preferred to “just model,” Internet outages and trouble wiring money into two bank accounts.

The brain trust at the Emperors Club often cursed both their supply and their demand: One of their prostitutes looked “like a butcher,” Brener said. Meanwhile, Lewis said, Client 9 put off prostitutes by asking “you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.”

When the four defendants launched the Emperors Club in December 2004, they carefully dressed their company with the accouterments of legitimate business. They opened a bank account in the name of QAT Consulting Group Inc. and, later, QAT International Inc. They created three phone numbers, with a pleasant female voice on the answering machine. They built a fancy Web site with a home page featuring a naked woman throwing back her brown, curly hair and a slogan, “Every client is an emperor.”

In bold letters, the club listed a disclaimer:

“Money exchanged is only for our providers time, total relaxation message [sic], entertainment purposes, modeling or private dancing. Under no condition will our escorts ever accept money for services which are considered indecent.”

In meetings, Brener, Lewis, Suwal and Hollander assigned each prostitute a rating between one and seven diamonds and priced them accordingly. Bargain prostitutes started at $1,000 an hour. Seven-diamond women cost $3,100 an hour. In recruiting employees, the Emperors Club also offered the possibility that women could become an “Icon” — an elite prostitute available to the most loyal clients for a minimum of $5,500 an hour.

Trouble was, some prostitutes wanted to be Icons right away. On Jan. 18, Lewis worked to coordinate an appointment for a new prostitute in Los Angeles. The rookie, “Felana,” complained of nervousness, requested extra money and asked that her picture not be placed on the Web site for fear that a family member might recognize her. Lewis, convinced Felana was “clueless,” called the Los Angeles client and warned that he was getting a first-timer.

“Sounds great to me,” the client said.

“What your expectations are might not be fulfilled,” Lewis said, “just because this is her first appointment ever.”

The client agreed to “take my chances.”

The Emperors Club struggled to meet escalating demand. Management sometimes offered to fly women around the world — to London maybe, or to Chicago for a three-day weekend — to serve its clients. Some women only wanted to meet with certain clients. One woman, Suwal complained, left an appointment after only 40 minutes to pick up her children. “The girls with children tend to have . . . a little more baggage going on,” Suwal said.

Some recruits simply did not work out. On Jan. 24, Suwal received an e-mail from a prospective employee who said a conversation with a friend had dissuaded her.

“I was little bit shock and confuse that she had a sex with him twice in an hour and without her [sic] taking her out for dinner before,” the prostitute wrote. “So I am very sorry I don’t think this is my kind of thing . . . to provide sex for L500 an hour, I just thing [sic] this is not a price I would ever consider of doing it for.”

Clients, the management team complained, could be just as difficult. One said his prostitute was more “sex than sexy.” Another wanted four women who “liked to party” flown to Miami, requesting four hours of service from each.

Client 9 refused to leave a key card at the front desk of his Washington hotel for “Kristen,” the prostitute identified by the New York Times as Ashley Alexandra Dupre. An aspiring singer with a MySpace page that describes an abusive childhood and drug use, Dupre traveled by train from New York to meet Client 9. She then proceeded directly to Room 871, where Client 9 promised to leave his door slightly ajar.

Every once in a while, though, there were those perfect moments when business ran smoothly, when management’s hard work paid off. On Jan. 26, Lewis received a call from Client 4, who was staying at a hotel in Los Angeles. He wanted a prostitute on short notice, for that night. Lewis scrambled during the 90-minute window to contact prostitutes and found out that “Chrissy” was available.

Chrissy was a new worker, with four stars and a rate of $1,200 an hour. Lewis contacted her through text messages and directed her to Room 467 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was scheduled for a one-hour appointment, with the possibility of extension.

Client 4 looked up Chrissy on the Club Web site and noticed that she was actually a five-diamond prostitute, so he called Lewis offering to pay a higher rate. A few hours later, after Chrissy’s visit, Client 4 called Lewis again.

“Two A-plusses in a row,” he said. “I don’t know where you get these young ladies.”

Still, the high of the appointment hadn’t entirely erased Client 4’s fear of getting caught. He asked Lewis about taxi records, and he said: “You sometimes hear of these agencies getting busted, you know, that’s my really only concern. That’s why I don’t call more often.”

Lewis explained that his money would officially go to QAT Consulting, a company with “real offices” in New York City.

“Just as long as you pay your taxes,” she said, “you’re fine.”

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/12/AR2008031204425.html?hpid=topnews

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2 Comments

  1. I have called in on this location on many an instance now but this post is the 1st one that I have ever commented on.

    Congratulations on such a first-rate critique and site. I have found it to be very helpful and educational – I only wish that there were more blogs online like this one.

    I never disappear from this blog without learning anything, from time to time I may feel a tiny bit saddened that I may not agree with a blog article or comeback that has been made. But hey! that is existence and if every one decided to agree on the same thing what a boring old world we would exist in.

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    Cheers, have a great day and thank you.

  2. Emperor Club girls were overpriced, I don`t know why a visitor should pay so much for a girl. There`s places all over the US for escorts services, and even an escorts resort where one can get a full weekend for less than $4,000
    http://www.charlisangels.com looks like the Emperor, difference being that this place is in the caribbean instead of DC.

    Spitzer gotta know better before spending so much on escorts, now he`ll have to split his fortune with the wife, she`ll probably file divorce as we write this.


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