Governor Eliot Spitzer busted in a prostitution sting

March 11, 2008

I was watching the news last night and saw a headline story that sounded more like the plot of John Grisham political thriller than real life.  The scrolling ticker on the screen shouted “New York Governor Eliot Spitzer busted in a prostitution sting!”    

Imagine this story in the hands of a competent writer – full of intrigue and subterfuge. If you’re writing in this genre, you can review this True Crime Story and model the investigation and political fall out.   

The Characters

New York Gov. Spitzer cultivated a reputation of a straight laced, corruption busting prosecutor and politician.  He defended the everyman on Wall Street, taking on the big shots who weren’t playing fair.  As attorney general he was named “Crusader of the Year” by Time magazine in 2002 and as governor, he was known as “Mr Clean.”  He is married and has three daughters.  His wife Silda stood by his side as he made a statement to the press. “I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself…I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

The Plot

Spitzer is accused of meeting a prostitute in Washington, D.C the day before Valentine’s Day. His involvement in the prostitution ring was uncovered by the NY Times based on tip, after prosecutors arrested four people. Spitzer was not charged, however, he has been identified as “Client 9”.  Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap making arrangements to meet a prostitute from the Emperors Club. A prostitute known as “Kristen” is one of the defendants arrested in the sting.  She has given $4,300 in cash by Client 9, payment for her services and a down payment for future trysts.  The Emperors Club maintains a web site and advertises hourly rates for prostitutes rated one to seven diamonds. The highest ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour.  The IRS initiated the investigation and then it was referred to the Public Corruption Unit of the US Attorney’s Office. There is some speculation that the hand off occurred when agents identified Spitzer. Spitzer has made several enemies on Wall Street and in political circles.  He once told a Republican legislative leader: “I’m a steamroller, and I’ll roll over you and anybody else.”  The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Democratic Party and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in particular. She is still fighting for the Democratic Presidential Candidacy.

The Plot Twists

Was he framed by a former nemesis?  A Wall Street power broker with access to millions sets up an elaborate trap, or blackmails an investigator who went bust.  Or is it a set up by a political advisory conspiring to sabotage the presidential election. 


Traces in Blood

January 3, 2008

Con men are able to insinuate themselves into the lives of their marks by catering to individual’s needs, hopes and desires. Consider the following true crime story highlighted in an recent episode of Notorious, December 2007. 

Albuquerque NM, a land rich with legends of the supernatural, including UFOs.  Linda Henning had a passing interest in UFO until she met Diazien Hossencofft, and her casual interest turned to obsession.  Hossencofft convinced Henning that he was an alien, and somehow manipulated her to murder his wife.   In 1999, 36 year old Girly Chew Hossencofft failed to show up for work. Her boss and coworkers were immediately concerned for Girly’s safety, because Girly had told them of repeated threats she received from her estranged husband, Diazien.  

Detective Michael Fox checked her home for any evidence of wrong doing and noticed the overwhelming smell of bleach, often used to cover up blood.  Investigators used Luminal, which emits a glowing light when it comes in contact with blood. The results were frightening obvious; stains on the floor lit up “like a Christmas tree.” 

Diazien had disappeared, but police were able to question Henning, who showed up as personal reference on papers belonging to Diazien. Henning claimed she didn’t know him well, and she believed he was a doctor, suffering from leukemia.  Days later, a hundred miles from Albuquerque, a road worker found bloody clothes and a tarp. 

Diazien Hossencofft was born Armand Chavez in Houston Texas. He graduated college in California and doctored his transcripts to attend medical school. When his deception was discovered, he was expelled from school.  He changed his name and told people he was a geneticist and sold fake cancer treatments. He also claimed he had suffered from cancer to gain sympathy.  He married Girly Chew in 1993.  Girly didn’t know that Hossencofft was a fraud.  Police tracked Hossencofft down, but were unable to charge him with murder, because no body had been found.  They were able to arrest him for making threatening phone calls to potential witnesses.   

diazien-hossencofft.jpg

The police removed the carpet from Girly’s apartment so forensic investigators combed the fibers for DNA evidence.  Miniscule samples were used to create a DNA profile which was compared to known samples taken from Girly and Linda Henning.  The carpet also had a large number of cat hairs, which were also linked back to Henning, who owned several cats.  Police believed Henning was covering for Diazien.  Trace evidence found on the bloody clothing yielded DNA from both Girly and Diazien. Henning was arrested and both she and Diazien were charged with murder, though police still weren’t sure of Henning’s full involvement. They believed she was an accomplice, brainwashed to act with Diazien. Friends noticed a change in Henning’s manner: she was hostile, threatening and unpleasant, where once she had been kind, sensitive and friendly. 

Bill Miller was also arrested when he was linked to Henning, Hossencofft and Girly’s apartment.  Blood evidence indicates a fight occurred between Girly and Linda. At some point Miller entered the scene, subdued Girly and took her to another location to kill her.  Hossencofft pled guilty in exchange for life in prison.  Prosecutors made the deal because a body still hadn’t been found.  Hossencofft admitted he masterminded the plan and blamed Miller for the murder, but said Henning had no involvement.  He claimed he planted Henning’s blood on the scene.

Despite Hossencofft’s denials, prosecutors moved forward with Henning’s trial.  Witnesses testified that Henning was acting strangely and forensic investigators presented their evidence. The defense called Diazien to contradict the testimony of prosecution witnesses.  Hossencofft’s testimony was violent, callous and psychopathic.  The jurors disregarded Hossencofft’s testimony entirely because his behavior was so bizarre. Based on forensic evidence and witness testimony, Henning was found guilty and sentenced to 73 years in prison.  She continues to maintain she is innocent. Bill Miller was not charged with murder, but was charged with tampering with evidence. He received one year of probation.  

Girly Chew has still not been found.


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