A high-class Hollywood madam whose clients included household names from the worlds of politics and entertainment has been sentenced to three years in prison at the end of a trial that threatened to become as embarrassing for the police and prosecution lawyers as it was for the defendant.
Jody "Babydol" Gibson, a failed singer whose call-girl operation helped to fill the gap left by the arrest and imprisonment of the notorious Heidi Fleiss, accepted Monday's sentence in a Los Angeles superior court without emotion. Her lawyer, describing her crimes as essentially victimless, said he intended to appeal.
Gibson ran a service called California Dreamin' which charged clients up to $1,000 ($670) a night in cities across the United States and in Europe. According to her lawyers, her "black book" of customers included "worldwide household names". Those names, however, were withheld from court records and have not been made public despite efforts by defence lawyers and the Los Angeles Times.
Shortly before it came to trial in January, the case looked like it might blow up in prosecutors' faces. The defence alleged that one of Gibson's clients had contributed $100,000 to the re-election campaign of Los Angeles' District Attorney, Gil Garcetti, and that the county should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because of a clear conflict of interest.
Evidence also emerged from court papers that the underground policeman who cracked the case was embarrassingly thorough in his exploration of the call-girl service. He hired two girls on taxpayers' money, stripped naked on both occasions and accepted back rubs and other physical favours before making his arrests.
Gibson also told her lawyers that she had been shielded from prosecution for many years by a Beverly Hills policeman with whom she had had an affair.
Her lawyer, Gerald Scotti, threatened to bring up all these issues in court and subpoena a number of her famous clients. He said he would also seek to show porn movies made by the call girls in open court.
But Judge Nash kept the proceedings on a tight leash, keeping out of the court record evidence about the Beverly Hills cop and the naked undercover agent and keeping the black book tightly shut. The judge said Gibson had run a sophisticated operation; during the trial, three women testified that they had had sex with clients, then given 40 per cent of the proceeds to the madam.
Judge Nash went on to describe Gibson and her employees as "tragic and pathetic". Before being convicted, Gibson said she was trying to make a living from her singing.
A single released a few years ago, called "Good Girls Go To Heaven, Bad Girls Go Anywhere", tanked despite heavy promotion on Hollywood billboards.
She has since tried to set up a deal with a producer called Joseph Isgro, who has been charged with extortion in a music-business kickback scandal involving the mafioso Gambino family. Gibson faces separate charges for money laundering and tax evasion.
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