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The news media can finally drop the “alleged” in “alleged D.C. madam.” Deborah Jeane Palfrey was convicted last week of racketeering, money laundering, and using the mail for illegal purposes. You know the story by now: Palfrey was found guilty of running a prostitution ring that masqueraded as a legitimate escort service — Pamela Martin & Associates — in the Washington metro area. Her clients were bigwigs, local law-yers, etc. It took the jury less than eight hours to conclude that Palfrey was a proper madam — this after a trial that lasted five days and featured 13 former call girls and three former johns as witnesses. U.S. District Judge James Robertson released Palfrey until her sentencing on July 24. She faces up to 50 years in prison, if served consecutively. But the advisory sentencing guidelines call for a substantially lesser sentence. Legal Times Joe Palazzolo caught up with the jury foreman, Lamont Smith, after the trial. Like the other jurors, he was familiar with the case before serving on the jury. Smith, 57, a clerical researcher for the Daughters of the American Revolution, called his jury duty a “different” experience.
LT: I’ll say. I was scandalized just sitting there. Did you sympathize with the witnesses? Smith: I can’t say I did. We all make choices — life is choice-driven. This is a case where people made bad choices. LT: Were you uncomfortable at all when they were talking about different sex acts or sexually transmitted diseases? Smith: There were one or two of us who were really taken by some of the language. None of it made me uncomfortable, though. I was used to hearing that kind of thing. LT: Er … really? Smith: Yeah, I used to be a courtroom clerk in D.C. Superior Court. I heard all sorts of things. LT: So the jury wasn’t at all swayed by [defense attorney] Preston Burton’s argument that Palfrey was just a “taxi dispatcher” who had no control over her employees’ behavior on the job? Smith: We believe Ms. Palfrey’s lawyer did a great job, but the government’s evidence was overwhelming. The testimony, all the documents — it was insurmountable. LT: Walk me through the deliberations. Smith: We went through each of the counts, one by one, looking at all the evidence. After that, each of the jurors talked for a little bit, so we could get a general feeling of where everybody was at. Then we went over the counts again, doing a point/counterpoint kind of thing. Then we took a vote. LT: Just one? Smith: Yup, unanimous the first time. LT: That’s quick work. Some people say this kind of prostitution is a victimless crime. Palfrey is probably going to prison for a while. Do you think it’s fair? Smith: She put herself in that position when she broke the law. LT: Well, you’re finished. Are you going to miss the excitement? Smith: We all have to do our civic duties, but I’m definitely glad it’s over. I’m going to go home and rest my brain.

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