Gov. Spitzer Scandal: New Jersey Couple Ran International Prostitution Ring
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Cecil "Cece" Suwal, the 23-year-old madam of an international prostitution ring run by her boyfriend, a 62-year-old Israeli widower named Mark "Michael" Brener, are at the heart of the scandal that brought down the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer.
According to local cops in Cliffside Park, New Jersey -- right across the Hudson River from New York City -- Suwal and Brener ran the Emperors Club, an Internet-based call-girl operation from a high-rise co-op named the Briarcliff.
Cliffside Park police officers said Tuesday Suwal and Brener have lived together at the Briarcliff for about three years. Although the couple stayed off the police radar, a neighbor did call the police once in 2005 after allegedly hearing a female voice crying, "Daddy, please don't hit me anymore, please daddy, don't."
According to the police report, Cliffside Park officers entered the premises, but after they determined that the cries came during role-playing sex, they departed and no charges were filed against them.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who was allegedly caught on an FBI wiretap arranging a $4,300 meeting with a call girl who worked for Suwal and Brener was one of their repeat customers. According to news reports, Spitzer paid Suwal and Brener more than $80,000 over the years.
Federal prosecutors said in court papers that large part of that money was spent on a "date" with a call-girl named Kristen on February 13, 2008.
But police investigators did not reveal how Suwal, a 2002 graduate of the Blair Academy in Blairstown, NJ, came to meet Brener, who immigrated with his wife to the United States from Israel 20 years ago and lived in New Jersey. His wife is now deceased after fighting cancer for several years.
According to Cliffside Park cops, neighbors described Brener and Suwal -- a "beautiful" young woman with light skin and dark curly hair -- as a couple who were regularly seen together.
Police officers said that neighbors described Suwal and Brener as an unassuming and low-profile couple who avoided attention. While they allegedly made a fortune with their prostitution business, they didn't live an ostentatious lifestyle.
According to federal prosecutors, between 2004 and 2008, the couple made more than $1 million, which they laundered in bank accounts with the names QAT Consulting Group and QAT International Inc. Brener handled the Emperors Club's international operations, while Suwal handled criminal enterprise's daily operations.
Prosecutors said that the young woman controlled the ring's bank accounts, supervised its booking agents and reviewed applications from call-girls seeking employment.
Federal investigators said the investigation is ongoing and they are depending on many of the ring's "johns" -- including Eliot Spitzer, who resigned his position as governor of the Empire State on Wednesday -- to help develop leads in the case.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.