‘I Ab­hor In­jus­tice,’ Al­leged Madam Says

The Washington Post Sunday - - Front Page - By Sue Anne Press­ley Montes

“ Miz Ju­lia” doled out a steady stream of ad­vice, both prac­ti­cal and philo­soph­i­cal.

From her Cal­i­for­nia home, she e- mailed tips to the 132 women who worked across the Wash­ing­ton area for the firm Pamela Martin & As­so­ciates. Her news­let­ters, now ex­cerpted in court records, were a vir­tual how- to man­ual for avoid­ing all kinds of trou­ble in a busi­ness said to spe­cial­ize in erotic fan­tasies.

“ One never quite knows where evil, i. e., the vice squad is lurk­ing in this busi­ness,” read one arch en­try from 1995. “ The misog­y­nists get a real kick out of sur­pris­ing ( shock­ing) you girls, when you give them the op­por­tu­nity!!! ... There­fore, you are to lock, dou­ble lock, triple lock all doors!!! . . . Fig- ure it out, be­fore they ‘ get cha’!!!”

Miz Ju­lia was the pseu­do­nym for Deb­o­rah Jeane Pal­frey, the wo­man at the cen­ter of a sex scan­dal that has caused a deputy sec­re­tary of state to re­sign and has lawyers call­ing around town try­ing to keep their clients’ names out of pub­lic view. A one- time law stu­dent, Pal­frey ran for 13 years what she in­sists was a le­gal es­cort ser­vice. Fed­eral prose­cu­tors al­lege she was pro­vid­ing $ 300- an- hour pros­ti­tutes, and a grand jury in­dicted her in Fe­bru­ary on fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing charges.

Pal­frey piqued fas­ci­na­tion — and anx­i­ety — by first threat­en­ing to sell phone records that could un­veil thou­sands of clients, and then hand­ing them over, ap­par­ently for free, to ABC News. She is sched­uled to ap­pear to­mor­row in U. S.

Dis­trict Court in the Dis­trict.

On Fri­day, Ran­dall L. To­bias re­signed as deputy sec­re­tary of state one day af­ter con­firm­ing to Brian Ross of ABC that he had pa­tron­ized the Pamela Martin firm. Speak­ing yes­ter­day on “ Good Morn­ing Amer­ica,” Ross said To­bias told him To­bias’s num­ber was on Pal­frey’s phone records be­cause he had called “ to have gals come over to the condo to give me a mas­sage.” There had been “ no sex,” Ross quoted To­bias as say­ing, and that re­cently he has used an­other ser­vice, “ with Cen­tral Amer­i­can gals,” for mas­sages.

To­bias, who is 65 and mar­ried, was di­rec­tor of U. S. For­eign As­sis­tance and ad­min­is­tra­tor of the U. S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment. He pre­vi­ously held a top job in the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion over­see­ing AIDS re­lief, in which he pro­moted ab­sti­nence and a pol­icy re­quir­ing grant re­cip­i­ents to swear they op­pose pros­ti­tu­tion.

Pal­frey’s flam­boy­ant at­tor­ney, Mont­gomery Blair Si­b­ley, said Fri­day that he has been con­tacted by five lawyers re­cently, ask­ing whether their clients’ names are on Pal­frey’s list of 10,000 to 15,000 phone num­bers. Some, Si­b­ley said, have in­quired about whether ac­com­mo­da­tions could be made to keep their iden­ti­ties private. ABC is ex­pected to air a re­port on Pal­frey and her clients on “ 20/ 20” on May 4, dur­ing sweeps.

More rev­e­la­tions are in the off­ing. Ross said the list in­cludes the names of some “ very prom­i­nent peo­ple,” as well as a num­ber of women with “ im­por­tant and se­ri­ous jobs” who had worked as es­corts for the firm.

The dis­clo­sures have been made spar­ely and art­fully. Two weeks ago, in court doc­u­ments about call­ing for­mer clients to tes­tify on her be­half, Pal­frey named Har­lan K. Ull­man, an aca­demic whose main claim to fame was a schol­arly pa­per he wrote more than a decade ago on the mil­i­tary strat­egy known as “ shock and awe.” Re­sponded Ull­man: “ It doesn’t de­serve the dig­nity of a re­sponse.”

Si­b­ley also filed no­tice that he in­tends to de­pose po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant Dick Mor­ris in a sep­a­rate civil pro­ceed­ing. Mor­ris would not com­ment.

Pal­frey also de­clined to com­ment on ei­ther To­bias’s res­ig­na­tion or other names that could arise.

“ As the old say­ing goes, ‘ I need to dance with the guy who brung me,’ ” she wrote in an e- mail to a Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter. “ I have promised ABC News that the ‘ 20/ 20’ in­ter­view will be an exclusive one. I am sure you can un­der­stand my sit­u­a­tion.”

For all the at­ten­tion she is at­tract­ing, Pal­frey re­tains an air of mys­tery. She has dropped in­trigu­ing hints about her­self over the years but de­murs when asked for an in­ter­view about her life.

“ I am not a quit­ter,” Pal­frey wrote in an­other e- mail to The Post. “ Ad­di­tion­ally, I ab­hor in­jus­tice, on any level and in any fo­rum. I frankly per­sist de­spite life’s bar­ri­ers. It is no more com­pli­cated than this.”

She sees her­self as an en­tre­pre­neur be­ing rail­roaded by an allpow­er­ful gov­ern­ment, in a “ David and Go­liath sce­nario.” Prose­cu­tors have made much of her his­tory: In 1992, she pleaded guilty to at­tempted felony pimp­ing. She started her Wash­ing­ton busi­ness while on pro­ba­tion in Cal­i­for­nia.

The lit­tle that is known about Pal­frey comes from court records in Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton, in­ter­views with ac­quain­tances and a se­ries of e- mails. Through her writ­ing — facile, self- as­sured, with triple ex­cla­ma­tion points for em­pha­sis — she shows con­tra­dic­tions and gump­tion, a wo­man who says she lives by “ the Golden Rule” and who de­scribes her­self as so­phis­ti­cated, a per­fec­tion­ist and “ a cat per­son” who will not go away with­out a fight.

Old friends can’t de­ci­pher the con­trast­ing images.

“ I thought I was a pretty good friend in high school,” said Deb­bie Blozik, who lives in Birm­ing­ham, Ala. “ But I’m think­ing now how many things I re­ally didn’t know about her.”

Home was Charleroi, Pa., pop­u­la­tion 5,000, which sits on a hill­side over­look­ing the Monon­ga­hela River, south of Pitts­burgh, its older homes clus­tered on steep streets.

The elder of two girls, Pal­frey was born in 1956 to Frank Pal­frey, who worked for a gro­cery com­pany and died in 2002, and Blanche, a home­maker now liv­ing in Florida. The fam­ily resided for a while in Or­lando but re­turned to Charleroi when Pal­frey was 10, to a mod­est house with striped awnings on Shady Av­enue.

Neigh­bors viewed “ Deb­bie” as a bright, at­trac­tive girl. In high school, she was a ma­jorette. She per­formed a mod­ern dance solo in the se­nior tal­ent show. But be­fore grad­u­a­tion, she left abruptly, fin­ish­ing in Florida. She said that she couldn’t take the bul­ly­ing any­more.

Pal­frey grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice from Rollins Col­lege in Win­ter Park, Fla., at­tended a year at what is now Thomas Jef­fer­son School of Law in San Diego and com­pleted a nine- month para­le­gal course.

She got into the es­cort busi­ness in San Diego, she said, be­cause she was “ ap­palled and dis­gusted” by how “ seedy, lazy and in­com­pe­tent” other es­cort agen­cies were, she wrote in court pa­pers. An avowed tee­to­taler, she said she did not like the drug- re­lated at­mos­phere in the other agen­cies.

“ I de­cided to branch out, so to speak, from my solo state and be­gan work­ing with one or two ( maybe three at the most) other women,” she said in her Cal­i­for­nia le­gal plead­ings.

She told Thomas Czech, a ca­reer Marine who said he dated Pal­frey for about two months, that she was an in­te­rior de­signer. Things ended badly, and Czech took out a re­strain­ing or­der against her in San Diego County in 1989.

Pal­frey’s pro­fes­sional life also took a turn for the worse. Her busi­ness crashed when she was ar­rested in 1990; an em­ployee’s an­gry mother ap­par­ently tipped off po­lice. Pal­frey em­ployed about a dozen women and would have made $ 100,000 that year, she said.

She said her em­ploy­ees were “ in­de­pen­dent agents” and al­lowed that she should have “ done some­thing to po­lice/ elim­i­nate such con­duct from oc­cur­ring.”

Pal­frey was a no- show at her sched­uled trial in Au­gust 1991. She was cap­tured that Oc­to­ber in Mon­tana. She ex­plained to the court that the stress from the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings had caused her to flee. Her mother, she said, was so up­set that she de­vel­oped a lifethreat­en­ing aneurysm and re­quired surgery. She said her par­ents “ just can’t com­pre­hend how my of­fense could be viewed so harshly.” Once free, she said, she planned to go into busi­ness ex­port­ing “ au­then­tic Amer­i­can West­ern and In­dian art to the United King­dom.”

In­stead, af­ter 18 months in state prison, Pal­frey started Pamela Martin. The firm re­cruited es­corts through the Univer­sity of Mary­land stu­dent news­pa­per and Wash­ing­ton City Pa­per. It ad­ver­tised in the Yel­low Pages and on Web sites, tout­ing it­self as “ un­doubt­edly the best adult agency around.”

Her ca­reer path ap­par­ently was lu­cra­tive, but not spec­tac­u­larly so. Prose­cu­tors say she made about $ 2 mil­lion run­ning Pamela Martin over 13 years — on av­er­age, less than $ 160,000 a year. Her Es­con­dido, Calif., home was val­ued at about $ 480,000 last year, and her Vallejo, Calif., house at about $ 495,000, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers re­lated to their seizure by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Re­cently, Charleroi has ex­erted a pull on Pal­frey as she re­turned, qui­etly. In late 2002, she launched a Charleroi Area High School alumni as­so­ci­a­tion Web site. On it, she ex­pressed her in­ter­est in the In­no­cence Project for wrongly con­victed prison in­mates: “ Never could stom­ach in­jus­tice, so­cial or oth­er­wise,” she wrote, adding a pho­to­graph of her­self as a young girl with shiny bangs by a Christ­mas tree.

In 2004, the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice and the U. S. Postal Ser­vice launched a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Pamela Martin & As­so­ciates. Pal­frey, who con­ducted most of her busi­ness by e- mail and phone, al­legedly in­structed her “ sub­con­trac­tors” to con­vert her share of fees into money or­ders and mail them to her post of­fice box in Cal­i­for­nia.

Pal­frey’s le­gal strat­egy is to aver she had no idea that the women work­ing for her ever en­gaged in pros­ti­tu­tion. In pa­pers filed in U. S Dis­trict Court, Pal­frey al­leged that a for­mer es­cort iden­ti­fied as Paula Ne­ble and 15 “ Jane Does” breached their con­tracts by en­gag­ing in il­le­gal sex. Ne­ble’s at­tor­ney, Kathy Voelker, said she has “ no com­ment at all.”

Pal­frey has had a lot of set­backs lately. She says she is “ in­di­gent.” But she is not likely to go qui­etly.

“ I should just ‘ cave’ and de­fend my­self,” she wrote in a re­cent email. “ Oth­er­wise, this ridicu­lous car­i­ca­ture peo­ple seem to have of some­one in my po­si­tion . . . sadly will be at my ex­pense.” Staff writ­ers Carol D. Leon­nig and Sonya Geis and staff re­searcher Meg Smith con­trib­uted to this re­port.


Deb­o­rah Jeane Pal­frey, who says she ran a le­gal es­cort ser­vice, and pub­lic de­fender A.J. Kramer con­fer af­ter a U.S. Dis­trict Court ap­pear­ance in March.


At­tor­ney Mont­gomery Blair Si­b­ley, left, fields ques­tions for Deb­o­rah Jeane Pal­frey, with pub­lic de­fender A.J. Kramer, af­ter a March court ap­pear­ance.

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