As many as 8,000 people paid for sex from Seattle-area escort services in the past several years, authorities say.
If you are one of them, it could be to your advantage for federal prosecutors to hear from you.
Authorities say these clients can serve as government witnesses in racketeering cases against escort-service operators who allegedly profited from the agencies that were fronts for prostitution.
And on the other hand, the clients themselves could become targets, charged with aiding and abetting a multimillion-dollar enterprise that allegedly promoted prostitution.
The names of 8,000 customers, also called "johns," apparently are in a database seized by police in 13 raids last weekend of homes, cars and businesses tied to the escort services.
In all, 16 people were arrested, three of whom had initial appearances in federal court yesterday. Others are expected to be charged in Superior Court later this week.
The arrests and raids capped a two-year investigation in which Seattle vice detectives masqueraded as johns.
"As a practical matter," Assistant U.S. Attorney Angelo Calfo said after court yesterday, "I can't see we'd be able to charge 8,000 people. But I'm not telling you we won't pick out a case."
Theoretically, the johns could face federal charges if they knowingly used their credit cards to help promote prostitution, Calfo said.
Charged in one federal complaint were a Bellevue couple, Allen
Leon Stalcup, 44, and his wife, Mary Rebecca Stalcup, 51. Each is accused of a single count of using the mail and telephones as part of a racketeering enterprise.
The Stalcups, using the names "Executive Escorts," "Prestige Escorts," and "A Gentleman's Preference," made more than $200,000 a year for three years, the complaint charges.
After hearing that Allen Stalcup allegedly told an informant that he would make bail and disappear if he were ever arrested, a federal magistrate ordered him held without bail. Mary Stalcup, who allegedly confessed to operating the escort services as a front for prostitution, was released on her personal recognizance.
Charged separately with the same violation as the Stalcups was Robert Bennett, 36, of Seattle. Bennett also was charged with nine money-laundering counts.
Bennett, who faces a substantial prison term if convicted of even one money-laundering count, could be released on $25,000 bond - providing he can prove that the bond money is from a legitimate source and not the fruit of his alleged criminal activity.
Prosecutors have initiated a civil action seeking forfeiture of eight pieces of real estate Bennett bought with money he allegedly laundered through his prostitution operation.
From 1988 to 1990, Bennett grossed more than $2 million from escort agencies he allegedly operated, authorities have charged.
Calfo said Bennett, using false names, had supervised scores of prostitutes for eight years. His agencies were known as "Personality Services" and "Elite Escorts," prosecutors said.
In addition, local authorities arrested 13 suspects allegedly tied to a conglomerate of 10 separate escort agencies headquartered in Federal Way as AAA Escorts.
As early as tomorrow, as many as half a dozen suspects could be charged with a variety of offenses, including promoting prostitution, money laundering and use of criminal proceeds, a spokesman for the King County prosecutor said.
According to the federal charges, the Stalcups and Bennett employed "dispatchers" who would take down information from johns who found the escort agencies listed in the Yellow Pages and in some newspaper classified ads.
After obtaining "client information," the dispatcher would tell the customer that he would be contacted later. Then the dispatcher would page the escort, who would arrange to meet the client, usually at a hotel.
Once with the client, the escort would verify the john information and receive payment, then telephone the dispatcher, who would note that the "hour" had started.
Fees were $150 an hour. Proscutors allege that Bennett's escorts received 60 percent and he received 40 percent; the Stalcups' escorts kept $100 and the Stalcups received $50 per call.
At the end of the "service," the escort would telephone the dispatcher to advise she was available for another call, prosecutors say.