NEW YORK (AP) — A former police officer who retired on a disability pension ran a prostitution ring that charged customers as much as $2,000 an hour, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Michael Rizzi was arrested at his Brooklyn home on charges of conspiring to launder the proceeds of the multimillion-dollar operation. He's accused of running a prostitution ring called BJM/Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment between 2012 and 2016.
Federal prosecutors say the company advertised on more than 50 websites with names such as Lush Playmates. They say some clients spent more than $25,000 for a night.
According to a criminal complaint, Rizzi set up an email account to accept applications for the business and one applicant wrote, "I am a fun loving girl who loves sex... I love sex and if I can get paid for it why not?"
Rizzi set up face-to-face interviews with applicants, the complaint said, and when one woman didn't wish to meet for an interview he replied, "I'm sorry darling ... im number one for a reason. . I get the most business, my girls make the most money, my clients are the wealthiest people in the world. I will never send a model I haven't interviewed to them."
Rizzi pleaded not guilty in federal court on Tuesday and was released on $500,000 bond. He ran a legitimate business that provided only companionship, defense lawyer Javier Solano told The New York Times.
"There was no sex involved," Solano said.
Rizzi, who's 44 years old, was a police officer for nine years before retiring on a disability pension in 2000.
Prosecutors say he set up personal and business bank accounts to launder the millions of dollars the prostitution ring took in.
His arrest was announced by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Robert Capers, along with federal homeland security officials and the New York Police Department.