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Naval Academy Officer Linked to Escort Ring


Bradley Olson
The Baltimore Sun
   ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The woman who authorities allege ran a prostitution business in the Washington area for 13 years and counted high-profile government officials among her clientele confirmed this week that she employed a female Naval Academy officer as an escort and believes the woman has agreed to testify against her.
   Two Navy sources familiar with the matter said the academy's superintendent had been notified that the woman, a lieutenant commander, might testify against Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the ``DC Madam.''
   Palfrey, who federal prosecutors have charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, said the Naval officer met clients in the Annapolis area and charged them about $275 an hour for ``erotic fantasy'' services.
   The telephone number Palfrey said the woman used appears more than 300 times in phone records she posted on the Web site, according to a Sun analysis of the records.
   The sources said the woman worked for several years at the academy, in a senior, non-faculty position.
   ``Her name is splattered throughout the records,'' Palfrey said. ``We would not talk to each other if the girl wasn't working.''
   The woman did not return phone messages left at a number listed as hers Friday. Her attorney responded to an e-mail sent to her and said neither she nor he would comment.
   Hundreds of Annapolis telephone numbers and dozens of others from Maryland cities such as Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Severna Park, Columbia and other areas appear on the phone records, which Palfrey has posted on a Web site.
   The phone number of Brandy Britton, who committed suicide after being charged with running a prostitution business from her home in suburban Howard County, appears in the records.
   One number appears to be that of an editor for the Army Times Publishing Co., which publishes several military weekly newspapers. Its Navy Times first reported on the existence of a Naval Academy employee among the escorts.
   That editor's calls were placed in 2004 and 2005, according to the records. The Chicago Tribune, which is owned by the same company as The Sun, has reported that one number apparently originated within its Washington bureau.
   Speaking from her home in Vallejo, Calif., Palfrey lashed out at the government's case. Palfrey, 50, and her legal team have maintained that she ran a legal escort service in which the women who worked for her were instructed not to have sex with clients.
   ``Otherwise, everything else is pretty much a go. I have no knowledge of what did or did not go on in these homes,'' she said.
   One man whose Annapolis number appeared on the records declined to identify himself but admitted that he used Palfrey's service -- named Pamela Martin & Associates -- several times.
   The man said none of the women he paid ever identified herself as a military officer, although they appeared educated and did use ``great SAT buzz words.''
   He disputed Palfrey's characterization of the service as one of only erotic fantasy and not sex.
   ``Yeah, sex was involved,'' the man said. ``It was higher-end stuff, that's how it was billed. These were extremely professional girls, very attractive. It's not a low-level chemistry.''
   Authorities, who have seized about $1 million in real estate and half that in cash and stocks from Palfrey, have said in court documents that she made more than $2 million in the 13 years she operated the business.
   Palfrey said the Naval Academy officer's affiliation or rank would never have been disclosed to clients. Like the other 133 women who worked for her, according to the government's count, ``She would have been described as a professional with a graduate degree and left it at that.''
   Little other information was available about the woman.
   Palfrey first called the woman in October 2005, according to the phone records, which contain only outgoing calls, she said. The last call appeared to be on May 9, 2006, just three months before Palfrey decided to close her business.
   Lt Cindy Moore, a Navy spokeswoman, said no Navy investigation regarding the officer is taking place and would not comment on the woman's possible connection to the Palfrey case. She did confirm she is still in the Navy.
   Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, hired an investigative reporter to comb through the records and offered $1 million to anyone who could prove a high-ranking government official had an illicit affair.
   In an interview that lasted almost an hour, Palfrey vowed never to agree to a plea with prosecutors and said she was pleased with Flynt's efforts.
   ``I think that's wonderful,'' she said. ``These people pretend to be one thing and then in actuality are another.''
   Sun staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this report.

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