Escort worker gets probation in Spitzer case

November 25, 2008 10:42:44 AM PST
A woman who helped arrange trysts for a $5,500-an-hour escort service was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation for her part in the prostitution scandal that forced Eliot Spitzer to step down as New York's governor. Tanya Robin Hollander of Rhinebeck, N.Y., pleaded guilty on Aug. 25 to a prostitution conspiracy and could have faced up to a year in prison.

But Judge Deborah A. Batts took a more lenient view of the case. Batts said Hollander had played a less substantial role than the government had asserted, and the judge factored in the Nov. 6 decision by federal prosecutors not to bring criminal charges against Spitzer.

"We are extremely pleased with the judge's view of this case and the sentence she imposed," Hollander lawyer Michael Farkas said after the short hearing. "The judge's view of this case was much more consistent with reality than the government's."

Hollander is the first defendant to be sentenced in the case of the Emperors Club VIP, a prostitution ring that arranged sexual encounters for wealthy men around the world for prices as high as $5,500 an hour. The 36-year-old Hollander served as a booking agent, meaning she took phone calls from clients looking for sex and hooked them up with the ring's network of prostitutes.

The takedown of the ring became national front-page news when it was revealed that one of the clients was none other than Spitzer, a married father of three who had met an Emperors Club prostitute named Ashley Alexandra Dupre the day after Valentine's Day in a Washington hotel. He resigned a month later.

Authorities could have charged Spitzer with violating the Mann Act, a federal law that bans carrying women or girls across state lines for "prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose."

But legal experts say the law is rarely used to prosecute johns.

Dupre's lawyer said he didn't think his client would face criminal prosecution, and it does not appear that the government is going after any of the 50 prostitutes who worked for the ring.

"We have no reason to believe she will be charged," said Don D. Buchwald.

Dupre, 23, recently broke her silence, giving lengthy interviews to a magazine and television program, but she has declined to discuss details of her paid date with Spitzer or how many times she slept with the former governor.

The judge's decision to give Hollander only probation was a minor setback for the government, which had sought a harsher sentence. Federal prosecutor Daniel L. Stein said in court that Hollander spent 10 months working at the escort service, suggesting her conduct was not "aberrant."

The four people who were charged in the case have all pleaded guilty.

Hollander did not talk to reporters after the hearing. She is a holistic health counselor who started working with the agency to pick up some extra cash.

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