Thursday, March 13, 2008

New York Governor resigns amidst prostitution scandal

Watch a Kenyan "celeb" bare it ALL for the world...

NEW YORK - Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose rise to political power as a fierce enforcer of ethics in public life was undone by revelations of his own involvement with prostitutes, resigned on Wednesday, becoming the first New York governor to leave office amid scandal in nearly a century. The resignation will be effective on Monday, and Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson will be sworn in to replace him.

In an appearance that lasted 140 seconds at his Midtown Manhattan office, the governor — with his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, at his side — offered an apology to his family and to the public and said he would devote himself to serving “the common good.” “From those to whom much is given, much is expected,” Spitzer said. “I have been given much: the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York and the chance to lead this state. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. Over the course of my public life, I have insisted — I believe correctly — that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct,” he said. “I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor.”

Spitzer, 48, spoke in a somber but steady voice, his usual barking tone softened by contrition. He took no questions. His wife, in a dark suit and brightly colored scarf, looked off to the side of the podium, occasionally glancing up to reveal deep circles beneath her eyes. Immediately after the remarks, Paterson offered sympathy to the governor and his family in a written statement. “It is now time for Albany to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us,” he said.

The sudden and stunning end to Spitzer’s political career came less than 48 hours after it emerged that he had been a client of a high-end prostitution ring, caught on a federal wiretap that had been prompted by his own efforts to quietly make payments to the agency, Emperors Club VIP. Spitzer issued a brief apology on Monday after the news was first reported on the Web site of The New York Times, then he disappeared from public view. The governor, an unabashed fan of the spotlight, spent Tuesday in seclusion in his Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park, engaged in what associates described as an agonizing day of deliberations with his wife, lawyers, and a handful of close friends. It remains unclear what legal implications, if any, Mr. Spitzer will face from his involvement with the ring. His lawyer, Michele Hirschman, reached out to federal prosecutors this week to strike a deal in hopes of avoiding charges. But the United States attorney investigating the case issued a statement shortly after the resignation saying that his office does not have any arrangement with the governor.

See photos Of Eliot Spitzer's hooker here...

Eliot Spitzer's resignation Wednesday spares him and the state the spectacle of an impeachment, but what about an indictment? It was a rare and unequivocal declaration by U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia: "There is no agreement between this office and Gov. Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter."

And in Spitzer's own words: "Over the course of my public life, I've insisted, I think correctly, that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct."

But what conduct? And what form will that responsibility take? Legal observers say there's a good chance the governor will be indicted. "To move funds from one place to the other, to hide the source of the money … it's still going to be money laundering," said John Jay College School of Criminology professor Joseph King.

Experts say "Client 9" in the FBI affidavit (now identified as Spitzer) could face the following charges:

• Money laundering for trying to conceal the source and recipient of financial transactions
• Tax evasion, if he was a knowing party to an all-cash business that wasn't filing taxes
• Violation of the Mann Act for paying for the trip from New York to D.C. by the call girl known as "Kristen"
• Misuse of state resources, if he used his state-issued credit card for hotels or meals with prostitutes as well as if he was being protected by State Troopers during his dalliances
• And finally, soliciting prostitution.

There's also the question of whether Spitzer used campaign funds for these trysts, which opens up a whole other litany of charges from fraud to federal election violations. Court documents and published reports indicate perhaps as much as $80,000 were transferred from Spitzer's account to a trio of dummy companies that were fronts for the escort service. North Fork Bank reportedly grew suspicious when the governor asked that his name be taken off the latest transactions. The prostitution charge carries the least severe possible sentence. Ironically, one of the first bills Spitzer signed into law raised the penalties for Johns, the men who patronize prostitutes, from a maximum of three months, to now up to a year in jail. Money laundering has a maximum of 20 years.

Meanwhile, the call girl at the center of the prostitution scandal that prompted Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign in disgrace has been identified as a 22- year-old aspiring musician who struggled in a broken home as a child.
The New York Times reported that the real name of the woman—identified as "Kristen" in court papers alleging that Spitzer paid thousands of dollars for her services—is Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

Don D. Buchwald, a New York lawyer, confirmed that he represents Dupre, but he wouldn't comment further. Law enforcement officials have said Spitzer had a February 13 tryst with Kristen and paid her $4,300, according to court papers. Dupre briefly spoke to the New York Times about the Spitzer scandal but didn't offer details on her involvement in it. "I just don't want to be thought of as a monster," Dupre told the Times. "This has been a very difficult time. It's complicated."

Dupre told the newspaper she had slept very little since the allegations against Spitzer were revealed, and she declined to comment when asked by the Times when she first met him and how many times they had been together. She told the Times she was worried about paying her rent in a ninth-floor Manhattan apartment since her boyfriend recently left her. She said she was considering moving back in with her family in New Jersey. Dupre's MySpace page provides a window into her life as she went from a broken home in New Jersey to a music career in the city. "I have been alone," she wrote. "I have abused drugs. I have been broke and homeless. But, I survived, on my own. I am here, in NY because of my music."

In an August 30 blog posting on MySpace, she wrote: "The past few months have been a roller coaster with so called friends, lovers, and family ... but its something you have to deal with and confront in order to move on ..."

"What destroys me strengthens me" is the slogan next to a photograph of her. The photos show her at various places, including in a bikini on a boat in a tropical locale. The number of hits to the page soared by the tens of thousands after the story broke, and many recent postings to her page ridiculed her.

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