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Michelle Braun, New "Hollywood Madam", Makes Deal With Prosecutors

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 12, 2009 1:43 PM

Some celebrities and sports stars may be quakin' in their boots, err designer-footwear-of-choice, err cleats, today in light of reports that Michelle Braun has made a deal with prosecutors for her full cooperation in her money laundering and Mann Act case. Why the potential star panic over one little woman from Florida, you ask? Well, it turns out that Michelle Braun might not have dealt with run-of-the-mill clients on either side of the prostitution/solicitation fence. Instead, Braun may have run a business which catered to celebrities and sports stars with a selection of porn stars and fashion models.

The case also provides a prime example of the crime of money laundering, which tends to create some confusion in the minds of many. The term money laundering, which evokes visions of throwing wads of cash into a wash cycle, actually isn't way off. Money laundering, in general terms, is basically when someone takes the proceeds of just about any criminal endeavor (i.e. dirty money), and channels them via seemingly legitimate means, thus "cleaning" the money by concealing its origins.

The Braun case illustrates a classic effort, as reported by the Orange County Register, "Braun allegedly operated an online business through her corporation, Global Travel Network, Inc., with the assistance of her husband and sister." However, this was simply a company "disguised as a travel and security business ... used to facilitate the laundering of Braun's prostitution proceeds''. In other words, the travel and security business was just hiding the illegal origins of the money.

However, not all is bad for Braun despite her guilty plea, as she appears to be scraping clear of the potential 12 to 18 months of prison time she had faced (some house arrest will be in order instead). She will be fined about $30k but considering that her "business" reportedly raked in more than $8.5 million, that's literally a drop in the bucket. Considering that records provided to authorities have raised the names of figures such as "Mickey Rourke, Charlie Sheen, Jose Canseco, Courtney Love and several Playmates", this might explain why Braun is getting relatively light treatment in exchange for her cooperation. That said, she is also reportedly facing a separate forfeiture case, which may end up taking care of the rest of her ill-gotten fortune.

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