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Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 2, 2008
A woman believed to be Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who was convicted of operating an escort service that supplied prostitutes to Washington, D.C., officials, apparently killed herself in Florida, police said today.
The body of the woman believed to be the "D.C. madam," was found this morning in Tarpon Springs, Fla., when police said they responded to a call at Palfrey's mother's home. The death appeared to be a suicide and no foul play is suspected.
In a statement attributed to Tarpon Springs Police Capt. Jeffrey P. Young, authorities said the body was found in a small storage shed. Hand-written notes describing Palfrey's desire to kill herself were also recovered.
The case will be investigated as a suicide. The Pinellas County medical examiner's office will issue a formal ruling, though no date for the determination was set, police said.
Palfrey was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of money laundering, using the mail system for illegal purposes and racketeering. She was free pending sentencing on July 24, when she could have received a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Palfrey operated the prostitution service for 13 years, earning more than $2 million. She had insisted that if women engaged in sex for money, it was without her consent.
One of the famous clients who was accused of using the service was Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana). He apologized in July 2007, after his telephone number appeared among those connected to Palfrey.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in a statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."
Vitter was elected to the Senate in 2004. He represented Louisiana in the House from 1999 to 2004. Vitter and his wife, Wendy, live in Metairie, La., with their four children.
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