Friday, November 21, 2008

From the Palfrey trial transcripts: April 7th, 2008 excerpt

Ed.--This excerpt comes from the opening day of the trial of Deborah Jeane Palfrey. The witness for the government being questioned is Mark Hines, beginning at the bottom of page 12 and ending on the bottom of page 20. Palfrey always contended to me and others on the defense team that she thought the investigation into her began around May/June of 2004 in the Baltimore IRS office, apparently brought to their attention by USPS investigators.

I'm unaware of the entire extent of discovery materials she was given by the prosecution, but basically rang true at the time, and in a way it still does. Except for one thing. The real inquiry into the "DC Madam" began in August, 2001. Until reading the trial transcript, I was completely unaware of this fact, partly because press coverage of the trial was almost non-existent, and what little there was lacked any substance or detail.

Eventually, either I, the government, or someone else will post it online in toto, and the public can finally judge for themselves how fair her trial proceedings were, and all of the roads the government didn't go down.

For example: why couldn't they have gotten her for underreporting her income? A source informs me that this would have been the easiest of charges to prosecute.

Why didn't they do it? I have my suspicions, and it includes Palfrey and the government both lying about how much money she earned, and that she hid a lot of it. My guess is that they're either still investigating to find it, or they've already located most of it. She made a lot more money than anyone's reporting. The text has been broken-up for easier reading. Page breaks are noted. It appears that the investigation into Palfrey actually did originate in Washington D.C. and not in Baltimore, but in Linthicum, Maryland as Palfrey and author Bill Keisling once contended...


22 BY MS. BUTLER [Ed.--Nice typo, Butler is a "Mr."]:

23 Q Good afternoon.

24 A Good afternoon.

25 Q State your full name and spell your last name, please. [Page Break]


1 A My name is Mark Hines. Last name is spelled H-i-n-e-s.

2 Q Mr. Hines, where do you work?

3 A I'm employed as a Assistant Special Agent in Charge with
4 the Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

5 Q And just briefly, what does the Inspector General's
6 office do?

7 A The Postal Service AIG is the internal law enforcement
8 arm of the postal service, and we investigate fraud, waste,
9 and abuse within the postal system and also employment conduct
10 issues.

11 Q And how long have you been with that office?

12 A I started work with them in 2005.

13 Q Okay. Where were you before that?

14 A Prior to that I was employed as a U.S. Postal Inspector
15 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

16 Q Okay. And how long were you there?

17 A I was there from 2003 to 2005.

18 Q Okay. And before that, where were you?

19 A I was employed as a postal inspector in the Washington
20 Division, the Washington Metro area.

21 Q And how long were you there?

22 A I was employed as a postal inspector in Washington
23 between 1994 and 2003.

24 Q Okay. And just briefly, describe what the Postal
25 Inspection Service does. [Page Break]


1 A Postal Inspection Service is the external law enforcement
2 branch of the postal service. They investigate violations of
3 postal law and external attacks on the postal system.
4 Examples of that would be robbery of a post-office,
5 a burglary of a post-office, dangerous mailings or illicit
6 mailings going through the postal system and mail fraud.

7 Q Okay. In about 2000, what was your assignment within the
8 Postal Inspection Service at that time?

9 A In 2000, I was assigned to the Prohibited Mailings Team.
10 That was a team that investigated illicit items and contraband
11 being mailed through the postal system.

12 Q Okay. And was there a specific place or location where
13 you were -- primarily would do that?

14 A Yes, sir. I was assigned -- my last duty station was the
15 incoming mail facility at BWI Airport.

16 Q Baltimore/Washington International Airport?

17 A Yes, sir.

18 Q Okay. And what was your -- what was your assignment at
19 that time? What was your job description?

20 A It had two functions. One function was to profile
21 express mail system for illicit mailings containing
22 contraband; that would be narcotics and also illicit funds.

23 Q Okay. And you said two functions.

24 A Yes, sir.

25 Q What's the second function? [Page Break]


1 A The other function was to investigate violations
2 involving postal money orders.

3 Q Okay. Now, let's sort of make sure everyone's operating
4 from the same place in terms of knowledge. Express mail, what
5 is that, just briefly?

6 A Express mail is the service provided by the U.S. Postal
7 Service, an overnight delivery service. You can go to the
8 counter at a post-office, pay a larger fee than you would
9 normally, to mail a first-class envelope, and then that item
10 has a control number assigned to it and it's delivered in a --
11 in an expedited fashion, overnight typically.
12 The other aspect of express mail is that you can
13 track its process through the postal system by the use of that
14 assigned control number.

15 Q And you mentioned money orders. What -- just, again,
16 just briefly, what is a money order?

17 A Postal service money order is a financial instrument
18 that's available to postal customers. You can go into a
19 post-office and with currency purchase a negotiable instrument
20 similar to a check or a money order you might get at a
21 7-Eleven or another outlet.
22 In turn, that document, you can convey to somebody
23 else and it can be cashed at a post-office or it can be
24 deposited like a check at a bank.

25 Q And a money order, does it show who purchased the money [Page Break]


1 order on the face of the document?

2 A There is a portion on the face of the document for the
3 person remitting it to write the purchaser of the money order
4 and the sender of the money order, although it's not always
5 completed.

6 Q Okay. And in your assignment at BWI, what were you
7 looking for in terms of express mail labeling and in terms of
8 money orders?

9 A During the course of my assignment, we would look for
10 patterns of suspicious mailing activity; we would look at that
11 through the paperwork which would be the express mail labels
12 from these postal mailings. We would also look at live mail
13 that would go out to the postal service facility, the
14 processed incoming express mail for the D.C. Metro area and
15 also outbound express mail coming from the D.C. Metro area,
16 again, for suspicious mailings.

17 Q What were you looking for? What, in particular, were you
18 looking for? What were you trying to find?

19 A In particular, what we were looking for was in the
20 mornings, we were looking for inbound mailings that typically
21 contained drugs, illegal controlled substances, and then in
22 the evening, at the outbound mail, outbound express mail, we
23 were looking for illicit funds, currency, and also postal
24 money orders and other negotiable instruments.

25 Q And did there come a time when you focused on a business [Page Break]


1 called Pamela Martin & Associates?

2 A We did, yes, sir.

3 Q And how did that come about?

4 A In August of 2001 [Ed--My emphasis.], I had been profiling for outbound
5 express mailings and came across an express mail piece going
6 to Venetia, California, which had also come to my attention
7 during our review of Postal Service Express Mail labels.

8 Q Okay. And based on that, what did you do?

9 A With that particular piece, I tried to investigate what I
10 could about the sender, the recipient, and the goal was to
11 obtain a federal search warrant to open the mail piece and
12 determine whether contraband, in other words, illicit funds
13 were within that mail piece.

14 Q Did you have sufficient information at that time to
15 obtain a warrant for that piece of information?

16 A I had sufficient information to seek one.

17 Q Okay. Did you actually obtain one, though, at that time?

18 A I did not.

19 Q Okay. So what did you do with that package then?

20 A The package was returned to the mail stream for delivery.

21 Q And did you follow up on that at all?

22 A I did. That mail piece and the information that I found
23 out, which I attempted to get a search warrant on the basis
24 of, developed further through a longer term investigation and
25 became the first mail piece of a series of suspicious [Page Break]


1 mailings.

2 Q Okay. And did you look at patterns or other -- you say
3 other mailings. What did you do to look at other mailings
4 that were going to that post-office box? What did you do?

5 A There were a couple of initial investigative steps. We
6 reviewed the mailing history for express mailings going to
7 this particular address in Venetia, which was P.O. Box 1211 in
8 Venetia, 94510 is the ZIP code, Venetia, California.
9 Over an extended period of time, we developed about
10 247 mailings emanating from the Washington Metro area going to
11 this P.O. box.
12 We also did a mail cover tracking to --

13 Q Describe -- before you go too far, what is a mail cover?

14 A Mail cover is an investigative tool available to law
15 enforcement where law enforcement is authorized to review
16 incoming mail, the face of incoming mail going to a given
17 delivery address based on a criminal investigation. So, for a
18 period of 30 days or 60 days, we can review who is sending
19 mail to a given subject of an investigation.

20 Q And as part of that, what information did you develop
21 through that mail cover?

22 A What it developed was that the box holder of P.O. Box
23 1211 in Venetia was a Deborah Jeane Palfrey and that this
24 individual was associated with an out-call escort service
25 named Pamela Martin & Associates. [Page Break]


1 Mail directed to that P.O. box came in the name of
2 Deborah Jeane Palfrey, Pamela Martin, Pamela Martin &
3 Associates and combinations thereof. The mail cover that we
4 did illustrated a quantity of express mailings similar to the
5 ones that we had already tracked through our historical
6 documents, and those documents and the mail cover results
7 indicated that about 25 female senders were mailing express
8 mails and the grand total was 247 of them to this P.O. box in
9 Venetia.

10 Q And for what period of time are you talking about?

11 A The records that I reviewed were between the year 2000
12 and 2002.

13 Q Okay. And did you take steps in the local area to
14 determine if you could identify the women who were sending
15 those documents to Venetia, California?

16 A Yes, I did.

17 Q What steps did you take?

18 A We used address checks checking through the postal system
19 to see who receives mail at a given address; in this case, the
20 return address on the mailings. We have also used Department
21 of Motor Vehicle checks and Auto Track, which is a
22 commercially available address check system to try to identify
23 the mailers such as they appeared on the return address
24 portion of these express mails.

25 Q Okay. Were you able to identify any individuals who were [Page Break]


1 actually sending documents to Venetia, California?

2 A Yeah, approximately 25 of them.

3 Q Okay. And did you identify specifically by name any
4 individuals? Without giving their names, were you able to --
5 not just get the names of the persons but to identify -- to
6 figure out who they were, where they lived, that type of
7 thing?

8 A Yes, we were able to figure out many aspects of their
9 background.

10 Q Okay. And did you take steps at the post-offices
11 themselves to see if you could track those individuals'
12 actions relative to sending those express mail packages?

13 A Yeah. During the course of the investigation, I dealt
14 with many different postal employees, from window clerks who
15 sold the express mail service, to delivery employees who
16 delivered the express mailing in California and other
17 locations, and those individuals did provide me with
18 information.

19 Q And did you also take steps on the California end of
20 things to see if you could identify further who Deborah
21 Palfrey was and that type of thing?

22 A Yes, I did. The steps on the California end were to
23 determine whether or not, first of all, Ms. Palfrey held this
24 P.O. box, and in review of our postal records is each P.O. box
25 is a P.O. box application, a Form 1093." ...