Retired NYPD Officer Sentenced To 15 Months Imprisonment For Laundering Funds Of A Multi-Million Dollar Prostitution Service
Defendant Ordered to Forfeit Florida Vacation Home Purchased with Illicit Proceeds
Michael Rizzi, a retired New York City Police Officer, was sentenced today to 15 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by four months’ home confinement and three years of supervised release, for laundering the proceeds of a multi-million dollar prostitution enterprise that he operated. Additionally, United States District Judge Carol B. Amon ordered the forfeiture of 58 websites and $120,247 seized from merchant accounts, as well as the Florida vacation home that the defendant had purchased using proceeds of his prostitution operation. The sentence followed the defendant’s guilty plea to one count of conspiring to launder the proceeds of a prostitution enterprise between June 2012 and May 2016.
The sentence was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.
As detailed in prior court filings, Rizzi operated a prostitution service under the name BJM/Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment (“BJM”). BJM advertised its services on dozens of websites, including nycescortsnyc.com, and eliteescortsnyc.com, among others. BJM employed “phone bookers” to arrange appointments between prostitutes and BJM’s customers, as well as drivers who collected cash and receipts from BJM’s prostitutes.
The prostitutes working for BJM charged their customers as much as $2,000 per hour. The investigation into the company’s financial records has revealed that several of BJM’s clients spent more than $100,000 on the company’s services, and that some clients paid more than $25,000 for a single night. Over the course of its operations, BJM collected millions of dollars in payments, including more than $2 million in credit card payments alone between October 2012 and March 2016.
BJM is a successor to Pure Platinum Models, another company that offered prostitution services. Following an investigation by HSI, Pure Platinum Models was closed in 2014 and its owner, Marc Schulman, was convicted in the Eastern District of New York of laundering more than $1 million dollars through the company.
“Michael Rizzi left behind a life of law enforcement for a new career in which he flagrantly disregarded the law and exploited others for his own enrichment,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “This Office is committed to dismantling money laundering organizations, including those which promote and capitalize on illegal prostitution.”
“Leaving behind a life of public service as a member of the NYPD, Michael Rizzi retired into the life of a pimp, running a high end prostitution ring and laundering the proceeds of those crimes,” Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez stated. “The forfeiture of Rizzi’s vacation home, on top of his jail sentence, shows that HSI will continue to aggressively target those who run illegal prostitution rings, as well as proceeds that are generated by this illegal activity.”
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer M. Sasso and Erik D. Paulsen are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Claire Kedeshian is in charge of the forfeiture.
Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-487