An Alleged Evening with Client Nine, A Look at the Mann Act

Many are asking, why and how the Feds have involved themselves in a prostitution charge, normally a state offense.

Daniel Steven Parker, the lawyer who’s representing Cecil Suwal, the 23-year-old woman accused of heading the prostitution ring, says his client will plead not guilty, but that she has never met Spitzer. “You have to wonder why the feds are looking at this,” he says. “As a general rule, I’d think the federal government has better things to do than prosecute prosecution rings.”
Federal prosecution of prostitution-related offenses are rare, Michael Bachner — a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office — told the WSJ. He said to the extent Spitzer is charged it would likely be under the Mann Act, which prohibits transportation of people across state lines with the intent to commit prostitution.
But “the Mann Act really was designed more towards those who get someone to travel against their will,” Bachner said. “If Spitzer gets indicted, it would seem to me he would be indicted based on who he is rather than what he’s done. Those who frequent prostitutes are very, very rarely the subjects of a federal prosecution when clearly it’s commercial and consensual.”

As for possible state charges, he said “customers are rarely prosecuted in the state” and charges that are brought are typically disposed of with a plea to disorderly conduct, “which is akin to a traffic ticket.”

WSJ Law Blog
3/11/8