Retired NYPD police officer charged with running a prostitution ring

Michael Rizzi, 44, was arrested at his home in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Justin Carissimo
New York
Wednesday 25 May 2016 19:51 BST
An NYPD officer.
An NYPD officer. (Edward Blake/Flickr)

A retired New York Police Department officer has been charged with running a high-end prostitution ring.

Michael Rizzi, 44, was arrested at his home in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning on money laundering and promoting prostitution charges.

Between June 2012 and May 2016, Rizzi operated BJM/Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment, a multi-million company that provided high-end prostitution services to customers, officials said. BJM advertised its services on more than 50 websites with names such as Jane Blow, Alluring Companions and Pure Playmates.

The company employed workers who arranged appointments between customers and prostitutes, charing customers as much as $2,000 an hour, with some paying more than $25,000 for a single night.

 Pure Platinum/NBC New York
 (Pure Platinum/NBC New York)

“Rizzi, a former police officer, once entrusted to enforce the law now finds himself accused of breaking it by allegedly laundering money from the proceeds of an on-line prostitution ring,” Homeland Security Special Agent Angel Melendez said in a statement. “Working with our local partners at the NYPD, this arrest and HSI’s seizure of dozens of websites signify the end to this high end prostitution ring and money laundering scheme.”

Rizzi’s lawyer Javier Solano maintained his client’s innocence outside the Federal District Court in Brooklyn. “There was no sex involved,” Solano told reporters, according to The New York Times. He added that the business only provided companionship and that women who engaged in illegal activity with clients were fired from the company.

“The anonymity of the internet stretches only so far,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton added to the statement. “Today, Michael Rizzi’s alleged scheme of prostitution and money laundering is up.”

While Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky was ready to set Rizzi free on $500,000 bail, The Times reports, investigators rearrested him after finding an antique .32-caliber pistol in his home.

Rizzi faces up to 20 years in prison if he’s convicted.

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