- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A California woman accused of running a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring in the District says she is having “irreconcilable” differences with her public defender and wants the courts to set aside a half-million dollars to fund her legal defense.

Deborah Palfrey says she needs the money because of “irreconcilable personal and professional differences” with public defender A.J. Kramer. She has declined to identify the differences with Mr. Kramer.

Federal prosecutors criticized Miss Palfrey’s request for the $500,000, calling it “highly unusual.”

“This request clearly is unfounded and should be denied,” assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler wrote in a memo Tuesday.

Miss Palfrey said she needs the money also to cull her telephone records, which include data of about 15,000 clients and escorts who could assist in her legal defense.

“At a cost of $50 per customer/escort to identify the telephone numbers, the cost will be high,” she stated in the memo.

Miss Palfrey added that the “tentacles of this matter reach far, wide and high into the echelons of power in the United States.”

The request is the latest twist in the unusual case. Three weeks ago, prosecutors persuaded a judge to bar Miss Palfrey from selling thousands of client records to raise money for her defense.

Miss Palfrey is scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing next week, but she has asked to be excused.

She faces racketeering, conspiracy and money-laundering charges under a federal indictment that says her company, Pamela Martin & Associates, was a prostitution ring in the District that Miss Palfrey ran from her home in California since 1993.

According to the indictment, the prostitution business involved 132 women who were hired primarily through local newspaper ads and who split the money with Miss Palfrey. Clients paid Miss Palfrey through money orders sent to her California post office box, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors seized more than $1 million in property, gold coins, bank accounts and stocks — assets they say were traceable to criminal activity.

Miss Palfrey has denied wrongdoing, saying she ran a “legal, high-end erotic-fantasy service” whose clientele “came from the more refined walks of life” in the District.

In her court memo last week, Miss Palfrey said the government has spent three years investigating the case.

Last month, a judge barred Miss Palfrey from pursuing a lawsuit she filed after her indictment against “independent contractors” she purportedly hired while running Pamela Martin & Associates.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler cited “reasonable grounds” to think that the purpose of the lawsuit was to discourage testimony by witnesses during her criminal trial.

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