Israeli man pleading guilty in Spitzer hooker ring case

Mark Brener accused of running the escort service that brought down New York governor.

spitzer 224.88 (photo credit:)
spitzer 224.88
(photo credit: )
An Israeli man accused of running an escort service that brought down New York governor Eliot Spitzer in March was set to plead guilty on Thursday afternoon to money laundering, prostitution and conspiracy, according to his lawyer. The federal case against Mark Brener, 62, is apparently so strong that he wasn't offered a plea deal. Experts say that doesn't bode well for Spitzer. "It does appear that there's a continuing investigation," noted criminal defense attorney Gerald Shargel told WCBS-TV. "The manner in which the investigation is being conducted strongly suggests that Gov. Spitzer is a target." Brener, 62, was to appear in federal court in Manhattan, and would be the third of four defendants to plead guilty in the case against Emperor's Club VIP, a high-end escort service. On Tuesday, the New York Sun reported that Spitzer is now proposing to start a "vulture" fund that would buy distressed real estate and then flip it for a profit. Spitzer, whose father, Bernard, manages a real estate company in New York, is proposing to invest pension money from labor unions, according to the newspaper. The projects discussed were reportedly valued at between $100 million and $500m. However, a source familiar with the situation denied that Spitzer had firm plans to start a vulture fund. "To say that he is pursuing a vulture fund is completely false," the source said. "The Sun article mischaracterized a causal meeting between Spitzer and three former colleagues. This was a purely friendly meeting, where numerous topics were discussed. A vulture fund may have been one of the topics but it is completely false to say this is a business he is pursuing." "Spitzer is currently evaluating several longer term business ideas," Spitzer representative Brandy Benson said. The former governor reportedly met with high-level Washington-based labor union officials at the headquarters of his father's real estate business in Manhattan, where he currently works. In the meeting, Spitzer "expressed relief" at no longer being burdened by being a governor, and took a "more relaxed" view of his involvement with the escort service. A source told the Sun that the married Spitzer was being "consoled" by passersby who approached him on New York streets and told him that sex was "no big deal." Spitzer is said to be looking to take his father's real estate business to the "next level." Bernard Spitzer is a self-made tycoon known for building one of New York City's largest real estate firms, with an estimated net worth of $500m. He is looking to take advantage of a niche created by the United State's subprime mortgage crisis and declining real estate market. Eliot Spitzer is hoping to cash in on good relations he established with labor unions during his time as New York State attorney-general. A real estate lawyer in the US capital said unions had largely done well in the Washington real estate market, and though she had not previously heard of Spitzer's proposal, said that it "makes sense." "They might not have taken what Spitzer did as seriously as some other people did," she said. "The union guys are incredibly pragmatic." Such investments would likely require the use of union labor, she added, "which in this environment that would be a good thing." AP contributed to this report.