Woman pleads guilty in N.Y. governor scandal

/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman accused of helping run the prostitution ring patronized by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy, money laundering and federal prostitution charges.

Cecil Suwal, 23, entered the plea in U.S. District Court. Prosecutors say she ran the day-to-day operations of the Emperors Club V.I.P. escort service, which charged clients up to $5,500 an hour for the services of its women.

Suwal was accused of supervising the company's booking agents, paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to prostitutes and controlling shell companies used to hide the ring's profits.

"This is the first step in the process of putting this chapter of her life behind her," her lawyer, Alberto Ebanks, said before the plea. "She deeply regrets her actions. She is remorseful. She is contrite and she is determined to right her wrongs in a manner that is fair and just."

A former University of Miami student who graduated from the prestigious Blair Academy in New Jersey, Suwal got her job at the Emperors Club after answering a help wanted ad. She later moved in with the man accused of founding the service, Mark Brener. The couple lived in an apartment complex in Cliffside Park, N.J.

Suwal is the second person to plead guilty in the case. Temeka Lewis, a booking agent for the escort service, pleaded guilty to similar charges in May.

Prosecutors say Lewis arranged a date between a prostitute with the pseudonym Kristen and a man identified in court papers as "Client-9," later revealed to be Spitzer.

The pair's Feb. 13 rendezvous in Washington, D.C., was monitored by federal law enforcement.

Spitzer hasn't been charged in the case, but he apologized and resigned March 12, shortly after the case became public.

Two other defendants were charged in the investigation into the prostitution ring. Tanya Hollander, who, like Lewis, was accused of being a booking agent, pleaded innocent but has been negotiating a possible plea bargain, according to her attorney.

Brener, 62, has also pleaded innocent and is awaiting trial.

During the investigation, which began with an inquiry into suspicious cash transfers, federal agents listened in on Spitzer's telephone calls and analyzed his bank records. Prosecutors have declined to say whether they intend to charge him with breaking any laws.