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On April 24, about a week after her conviction, Deborah Jeane Palfrey pleaded with a federal judge for an acquittal in a last-ditch motion to avoid a five- to six-year prison sentence. Last week, her mother, Blanche Palfrey, found her daughter’s body in a storage shed outside her home in Tarpon Springs, Fla. Deborah Jeane Palfrey had apparently hanged herself with a nylon rope, police said. A federal jury last month convicted Palfrey of racketeering, money laundering, and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a D.C.-area escort service she ran for 13 years. In the April 24 motion, which was never resolved, Palfrey’s lawyer, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Preston Burton, said that charging Palfrey in federal court represented “an unfortunate exercise of prosecutorial discretion.” He argued that the government failed to prove that Palfrey intended to break the law and that Palfrey had no knowledge of her employees’ sexual relationships with clients. Prosecutors, in their opposition brief, said Burton was simply rehashing arguments that had failed to sway a federal jury in the first place. “This is tragic news, and my heart goes out to her mother,” Burton said last week after hearing of his client’s death. “It was a sad case all the way around.” Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, said, “We extend our condolences to Ms. Palfrey’s family. We have no further comment at this time.”
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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