Michael Rizzi, a retired NYPD cop on a disability pension, was arrested Tuesday by F.B.I agents after allegedly running a multimillion dollar prostitution ring with hookers billing clients up to $2,000 per hour, the New York Times is reporting.
Rizzi was apprehended at his Brooklyn residence.
— NYC Informer (@newyorkcityinfo) May 24, 2016
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security confiscated his computers and business records. They also found a stolen handgun in his basement. Rizzi is believed to have ties with the mafia. He is related, by marriage, to members of the Gambino crime family. He is married to Jill Juliano; her father, a soldier in the Gambino crime family, pleaded to illegal gambling charges in 2003.
The 44 year-old was a cop for nine years. He retired on a disability pension in 2000.
Federal prosecutors say he set up personal and business bank accounts to launder the millions of dollars his illegal business reeled in. His company, BJM/Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment, was active between 2012 and 2016, and had clients who paid as much as $25,000 a night for women.
Rizzi pleaded not guilty in a federal court on Tuesday. He was released on a $500,000 bond. He has been charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering. Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers, while addressing the press, said, “with this arrest, we continue to unmask organizations that launder millions of dollars through alleged criminal networks.”
The 44-year-old alleged pimp was also the brains behind a profitable online escort service based in Staten Island known as Pure Platinum Models. It was shut down by F.B.I. agents in 2012.
In an unsealed complaint, a Brooklyn Federal Court accused Rizzi of running over 58 active websites including: EliteclubNYC.com, flygirls.com, lushplaymates.com, janeblow.com, and lusciouscompanions.com. The sites are characterized with topless women or females wearing seductive lingerie and bikinis, with a donation button listed next to their names.
Retired NYPD officer arrested, accused of running 58 escort websites: Michael Rizzi was arrested at his home… https://t.co/2oC2RRT9Mc
— Latest US News (@USNewsCentral) May 25, 2016
Rizzi’s defense lawyer, Javier Solano, insists that his client is a legitimate businessman.
“He ran an escort service that was strictly for companionship … there was no sex involved.”
He added that some women had been fired because they had been found having sex with clients.
Prosecutors say that Rizzi’s financial records show that he processed more than $2 million in credit card receipts. A court affidavit revealed that a BJM escort normally charged $400 to $2,000 per hour, lengthy services of 12 hours and 14 hours had booking rates of $7,200 and $8,400, respectively. A fleet of drivers were also on the payroll to ferry escorts to the home of clients and to high class hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and Park Central.
Rizzi always personally interviewed escorts before sending them to his retinue of wealthy clients. According to a federal complaint, one of his escorts, Jade, traveled with a wealthy client on a private jet to a Jamaican resort on a 5-day trip. When he received applications from women asking to play escort to the high and mighty, Rizzi met them in different hotels across the city before making his mind up about them. According to an affidavit, one of the women had said “I’m a fun loving girl who loves sex, I love sex and if I can get paid for it, why not?”
When an applicant refused to meet Rizzi for an interview, he had replied in an email “I get the most business, my girls make the most money, my clients are the wealthiest people in the world. I will never send a model I haven’t interviewed to them.”
[Image via Shutterstock/Daniel Jedzura]