Spitzer prostitution ringleader will not cooperate

NEW YORK Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:22pm EDT

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation in New York March 12, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation in New York March 12, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The man who led a prostitution ring whose clients included former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer pleaded guilty on Thursday but said he had not agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in future cases.

Mark Brener, 62, was one of four people charged with running the Emperors Club VIP and has been held behind bars since his arrest in March.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge John Sprizzo in a brown T-shirt under a navy blue prison jumpsuit, Brener pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit prostitution offenses and money laundering at a hearing at Manhattan federal court.

It was unclear how the plea could affect any case the government might be building against Spitzer.

Spitzer, who as state attorney general championed anti-prostitution legislation and cracked down on financial crimes, resigned as governor in March after The New York Times reported he had patronized a $1,000-an-hour prostitute.

Prostitution is illegal in most U.S. states, but clients are rarely prosecuted.

But because Spitzer allegedly paid for the prostitute to travel to Washington from New York, he may have violated the Mann Act that bans interstate transport to engage in prostitution.

"To my knowledge my client had no contact with Spitzer," Brener's lawyer, Murray Richman, told reporters outside the courtroom. "My client is not involved in any way with that investigation, nor was he asked to participate."

Lawyers for both sides said they had agreed to a sentence of 24 to 30 months. If the case had gone to trial and he had been convicted, Brener -- a U.S. citizen born in Poland -- would have faced up to 25 years in prison.

"I knew that my involvement with that business was wrong and illegal," Brener said.

He is expected to be released on $250,000 bail and will be sentenced on September 16.

(Reporting by Edith Honan and Emily Chasan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Xavier Briand)

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