March 08, 2000 09:33am
Police Detail Sting in Hollywood Madam Trial
by: Christian Boone
(VAN NUYS, CA) -- The undercover police officer who posed as a prostitute in a sting operation to nab Jody "Babydol" Gibson took the stand today as the trial of the alleged Hollywood madam began.
But it was word about others who might testify that set the tone for the trial's first day. Four alleged call girls who prosecutors say worked for Babydol have not been subpoenaed, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Richard Walmark revealed in his opening statement.
Those prospective witnesses account for eight of the nine charges -- reduced from the original 13 -- against Gibson, who faces 20 years of imprisonment if convicted of pimping and pandering.
Without their testimony, a trial that was estimated to take up to two months could be over in a couple of weeks, said defense attorney Gerald Scotti.
Defense would ask details
Scotti said if the four alleged prostitutes were called as witnesses -- a scenario he termed "pretty doubtful" -- he would ask for details about their clients.
"Where are the guys?" Scotti asked. "This is the most glaring hole in the [prosecution's] case. These men were engaged in criminal activity, which the prosecutors overlook. Not only will no man take the stand ... police officers didn't even interview them."
Scotti said he would then subpoena any men named and force them to testify as to whether Gibson arranged their meetings with the women, as charged. He once again said there were some "famous" names involved and last week charged that three of the men in Gibson's alleged "trick book" were contributors to Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti's election war chest. Garcetti is facing a primary re-election challenge.
Naked officer undercover?
The defense also pounced on accusations of police misconduct in the Babydol investigation, particularly concerning the behavior of one of the male officers who, while posing as a customer, allegedly was nude with two prostitutes and took Polaroid pictures of them.
"I've never seen an officer undercover who chooses to get naked with a prostitute ... who themselves were naked," said defense attorney Scotti, who noted he formerly worked as vice squad officer on the force in Detroit. "I would not think it proper."
Scotti also raised the issue of "missing tapes" from the police investigation and alleged tampering with witness statements.
Sasha, Taylor, Sherry
But the defense doesn't seem as assured in how it would handle the testimony of police Officer Cynthia Neff, the prosecution's first witness, who today talked about her first meeting with Gibson.
Gibson's pseudonym at the time was "Sasha."
Scotti claimed Gibson "never recruited anyone," but Neff told a different story, much of it through taped conversations.
Posing as a model named Taylor, Neff was asked by Gibson -- who on the tape referred to herself as Sherry, Sasha's assistant -- if she had "ever worked for a service before." Neff responded no, but apparently was able to arrange a meeting with Sasha even though on the recording Gibson said Sasha "does not take on [new] girls easily."
The two then met at DuPar's diner, a Southern California landmark, where they discussed the rules of "the agency." Neff testified they talked about the travel her "job" would entail -- on tape Gibson said Sasha had offices in New York and Houston -- and the money she could earn.
"They never had an agreement," Scott said, adding that Gibson "runs a variety of services," including serving as a producer on several adult films. He dismissed the DuPar's conversation as "girl talk."