How The “Emperor’s Club” Probe Started

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There’s sure to be some scrutiny of how federal prosecutors netted Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a rising star in the Democratic party, in a prostitution ring. Especially considering that prosecutors from Manhattan’s U.S. attorney’s public corruption section are working the case.

According to an affidavit by an FBI agent filed for a search warrant in the case the investigation, led by the FBI and IRS criminal investigators, began in October of last year and focused on the ring itself for prostitution and money laundering charges. The Emperors Club ring allegedly used more than 50 prostitutes and set up dates all over the country and international cities like London and Paris, and had more than $1 million in proceeds through its front company, called QAT.

The feds intercepted more than 5,000 telephone calls and text messages used by the company’s alleged managers and 6,000 emails in the course of their investigation. The wiretaps lasted from January 8th through February 7th, when it expired, and then were renewed on Februrary 11th. As you can see from the excerpt from the affidavit posted below, investigators intercepted calls involving “Client 9,” who is reportedly Spitzer, starting on February 12th and into February 13th.

It’s not clear precisely how the investigation began. The FBI agent, Kenneth Hosey, does cite a conversation with a “law enforcement officer who had been involved in the investigation of a number of prostitution businesses in the New York City area.” That officer (it’s not clear if he works with New York City, the state or the feds) told Hosey that “in the end of 2006,” he spoke with a confidential source who had worked as a prostitute in New York City. That source, who had gained immunity from prosecution, had told the law enforcement officer that she’d worked for the Emperors Club as a prostitute in 2006. Hosey said that further evidence had corroborated this. Again, it’s not clear if this was a tip that led to the investigation, or just further information investigators discovered after the investigation began.

Update: Here’s some clarity.