Plea Agreement Crumbles in Prostitution Case, New Charges Considered
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Prosecutors withdrew a plea agreement with a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac and her husband on prostitution charges Wednesday after reports their lawyer tried to sell a videotape of the woman with a client.
Kathy Willets and her husband, Broward County sheriff’s deputy Jeffrey Willets, had planned to enter guilty pleas to prostitution-related charges Wednesday.
But the state abruptly withdrew the plea agreement during a hearing before Broward Circuit Judge John A. Frusciante.
A reporter had said the the office of Ellis Rubin, the Willetses’ attorney, offered to sell a videotape of Mrs. Willets engaged in a sex act with a former Fort Lauderdale city official in her bedroom in suburban Tamarac.
The couple charged clients from $50 to $150 an hour and made as much as $25,000 over six months, investigators said. They face trial on the original charges Oct. 2.
Rubin had planned to argue that Mrs. Willets is a nymphomaniac who needs frequent sex as a form of therapy. Her husband, described by Rubin as impotent, was accused of watching and taking notes from a bedroom closet.
Television reporter Steve Wilson of the syndicated program ″Inside Edition″ said Tuesday one of Rubin’s sons, attorney Guy Rubin, offered to sell the program for $60,000 a videotape of Mrs. Willets having sex with former Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Doug Danziger, who was known for anti-vice campaigns.
Prosecutor Joel Lazarus said he was withdrawing the plea agreement because it now appears the Willetses participated in crimes not included in the deal. He said recording the video would be illegal under state law.
Lazarus, meanwhile, presented defense attorneys with a new plea agreement to look over. No details were released.
Danziger resigned as vice mayor July 30 amid speculation he was on the Willets’ client list. His lawyer, David Bogenshutz, said Wednesday he couldn’t confirm whether his client was involved with the Willets, but said: ″He’s going to hate this. He thought it was over.″
Lazarus accused Rubin of negotiating the plea agreement in bad faith and of conflict of interest.
Rubin reacted hotly to the prosecutor’s complaints and said the television show entrapped him.
″It now has been revealed that ‘Inside Edition’s’ reporter came to my office to entrap us into some illegal or unethical act,″ Rubin said. ″They never intended to buy anything. All they wanted to do was trap us.″
Rubin said no deal was made with the reporter.
Av Westin, co-executive producer for ″Inside Edition,″ said Wednesday evening the show ″has acted consistently with appropriate journalistic standards and has operated within the law. We reject any assertion that ‘Inside Edition’ engaged in any wrongdoing.″
Mrs. Willets stood by her attorney.
″I have a lot of confidence in Mr. Rubin and his law firm,″ she said. ″I will go to trial, and I will win.″
The 4th District Court of Appeals issued a 48-hour stay on release of a list of alleged prostitution clients. The appeals court set hearings for Friday and Monday on that list, which reportedly includes prominent local officials.
At least 11 men calling themselves John Doe have tried to block the court from releasing the Willets’ client list. But Judge Frusciante ruled last week that the media has a right to see the list.
Under the plea agreement, Jeffrey Willets would have received a maximum of one year in jail and his wife would have received probation, officials said.
Willets, 41, was charged with living off the earnings of a prostitute and his 33-year-old wife was charged with several counts of prostitution. Both are also charged with illegal wiretapping for recording phone conversations with clients.