Tag Archives: Henry Vinson

Coming Out of the Closet – Part 2

Shortly after my arrival in Cincinnati, I started riding my bicycle around Eden Park. The park has a maze of paved paths that wind around buildings and sculptures dating back to the early 1900s, and I found the sprawling, densely wooded park to be enchanting. I was inexplicably attracted to the park’s large Moorish-style gazebo that was ornately painted in white and indigo and crowned by a spherical finial. A prominent Cincinnati attorney shot and murdered his wife at the gazebo in 1927, and legend has it that her ghost continues to haunt it.

Although I didn’t encounter paranormal activity at the gazebo, I discovered that it was the epicenter of a burgeoning gay scene. But while I was very curious, I was acutely shy and hesitant to entangle myself with anyone. After riding my bike to the gazebo every day for a couple of weeks, a tall, muscular man in his early thirties finally approached me. His name was Robert. He had thinning black hair and distinctive Mediterranean facial features—an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, and a dark complexion. Robert invited me to Friends, a gay bar near the park, and I agreed to accompany him.

When we entered Friends, I heard blaring disco music and a spinning mirrored ball scattered flashes of light throughout the bar. The bar was dark, and plumes of cigarette smoke wafted near the ceiling. As we crossed the black tiled floor and walked to a table near the bar, I was dumbfounded to see men kissing and holding hands. After Robert and I sat down, I ordered a coke, because I had never imbibed alcohol before. While I sipped my coke, and surveyed Friends’ patrons, I quickly came to the visceral realization that I wasn’t the only gay man in the world, and I was momentarily overwhelmed by jubilance. I finally had an existential affirmation of my sexuality.

Coming Out of the Closet – Part 1

My childhood in Williamson, West Virginia was drenched in fundamentalist Christianity, and I was repeatedly told that homosexuals had a one-way ticket to hell. And throughout my school years in Williamson, I was repeatedly taunted and harassed for being gay. In fact, my classmates knew I was gay even before I did.

I was fifteen when I belatedly came to this realization about my orientation. I say belatedly, because it was quite evident to everyone else around me. After a two-week emotional tug of war, I decided to divulge my homosexuality to my mother, and it took me an additional two days to summon the courage to broach the subject with her. She was sitting at the dining room table when I approached her. I felt steeped in anxiety as I repeatedly cleared my throat and finally said, “Mom, I need to tell you something about me—” She cut me off with a wave of her hand and replied, “I already know everything there is to know about you.”

My mother’s reaction wasn’t exactly the protracted conversation that I had hoped for between the two of us. So the closet door remained shut and padlocked for the next five years. After I attended Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College for two years, I enrolled at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 4

Given the onslaught of erroneous press I’ve received over the years, I’m reluctant to ascribe inordinate intelligence to many in the media, but common sense would dictate that a veteran CBS correspondent could distinguish a bug from a “button-release” on a table. But, perhaps, because of the skeptical guest’s expertise on “architecture and furnishings,” he or she was able to provide the Post with the definitive truth?

And once more, the Post relayed the unequivocal truth from the perspective of the skeptical guest: “Spence confronted them later that night. ‘I heard every word you said,’ Gordon recalls Spence saying. ‘You’re conspiring against me. I’ve got this corner bugged.’ And then he pointed to the ceiling. ‘There was never a bug hanging over Professor Gordon’s head,’ says the same skeptical guest, who was also at that party. Another person there says that it was so obvious that Gordon and Trotta were gossiping about Spence all night he would not have needed bugs to guess what they were saying.”

After the Post deployed the skeptical guest and “another person” to debunk the fact that Spence’s house was bugged for blackmail, it descended into a rather absurd commentary: “Some believe that Spence may have been up to something with the electronic equipment that friends observed in the house. But Spence’s clairvoyance, it seems, was strongest when his bodyguards were present and within earshot of the supposedly bugged conversations.”

So now the Post acknowledged that Spence had “electronic equipment” in his home, even though in the preceding paragraph it had asserted that the bug uncovered by Trotta was, in actuality, a button-release on a table. The Post wanted to have its cake and eat it too by conceding that Spence had electronic equipment in his home, but ridiculing the fact that his home was bugged for blackmail.

And the Post’s remark about Spence’s “clairvoyance” being heightened when his bodyguards were within “earshot” was rather disingenuous too. The Post doesn’t question why Spence had a need for bodyguards. But in all likelihood, Spence needed constant protection, because he was the point man for blackmailing some of the most powerful men in the country—powerful men who almost certainly had access to their own thugs. Given Spence’s penchant for blackmailing the powerful, I think his longevity had the potential to be violently curtailed if his private Praetorian Guard didn’t vigilantly safeguard him.

Later in the article, the Post described Spence’s bodyguards as “clean-cut college guys who also tended bar, parked cars and drove Spence around. Spence later started hiring Army men and Marines, especially large, well-built ones.” I’m aware of Spence collecting bodyguards from the military, but the article made no mention of Spence’s bodyguards being pulled from the ranks of the Secret Service, even though the Washington Times had been meticulous about nailing down that Spence had Secret Service agents moonlighting as his bodyguards.

The Post’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence” portrayed him as a high society bottom feeder who was more of name-dropper than a powerbroker with high powered connections, and the article also attempted to dispel the notion that he was affiliated with the CIA. The article caricaturized Spence by having his friends discuss his rants of self-importance and name-dropping, which wouldn’t be too difficult because he was a coke-head and megalomaniac. After the Post made Spence appear as a mere cartoon character it dropped in the following paragraph: “Like the tales of espionage, the allegations about bugging were a regular subject of discussion among his friends. And again, they got their information from him [Spence].”

A week after the Washington Post demolished the Washington Times’ reportage on Spence’s illicit activities, I found myself in the Post’s character assassination crosshairs. The Post reported a series of lies that made me appear as a conniving villain who had conspired to cartelize D.C. prostitution as if I were the Richard III of gay escorts.

A later article by the Post conscripted the Los Angeles Times and New York Times to jump on its bandwagon. “’We checked into it; we sent reporters out when they raided the house in February and again when they had the eviction,’ said the Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. ‘We never did turn up with anything that looked like a national story.’”

After the Post quoted the Los Angeles Times bureau chief, the New York Times’ D.C. bureau chief endorsed the Post’s spin. “’I don’t take the Washington Times seriously as a journalistic entity, so I view with suspicion almost anything that they do,’ he said. ‘I don’t deny a raid on this house and that there’s obviously some kind of investigation going on. But so far I haven’t seen any evidence that it means what they say it means.”

In addition to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post buttressed its propaganda campaign with sources that were delighted to reinforce its disinformation—government sources. The Post wrote of its first government source: “…a key law enforcement official came to lunch at the Post and assured the staff that the investigation was primarily on credit card fraud.” As I recall, several administration officials, including the U.S. attorney general, were telling the media that Watergate was much ado about nothing, so I find it perplexing that the Post was all ears about non-existence of Spence’s blackmail enterprise, but it was vehement when contesting the administration’s official position about Watergate.

The Secret Service, the Justice Department, and the Washington Post did a masterful job of making me a scapegoat for all the illicit activities committed Craig Spence and his cronies. In retrospect, when that much power is deployed to obfuscate the truth, I didn’t have a chance of being anything other than a scapegoat.

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 3

As the Washington Times bore deeper and deeper into the enigma of Spence, I was astonished to read about the eddies of his sordid life in black and white—on the front-page of a newspaper. The levy of lies that had suppressed the truth about Spence for years was starting crumble, and I pondered its implications for me. I felt that it would be difficult for the government to cover up Spence’s illicit activities now that the toothpaste was out of the tube. I also had a tendency to think that the government wouldn’t take a chance on indicting me, because a trial would only publicize Spence’s complicity with high-ranking federal officials and his connections to the Secret Service and perhaps even the CIA.

The Washington Post commenced a counteroffensive against the Washington Times. The first blast of disinformation perpetrated by the Washington Post was a protracted article, “The Shadow World of Craig Spence,” published about two weeks after the Washington Times began to expose Spence’s blackmail operation, and it was a concerted effort to dismantle the Washington Times reportage on Spence. The article mocked the earlier headline floated by the Washington Times—”Power Broker Served Drugs, Sex at Parties Bugged for Blackmail”—by providing the veritable, unadulterated truth about Spence’s get-togethers: “People sat around in a perimeter after dinner discussing trade policy, where American policy makers were ushered into circles of foreign visitors to make serious talk; parties to which Koppel would sometimes send a stand-in; parties so dull that even Dossier magazine wouldn’t run the photographs.”

The Post’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence” also dismantled the idea that Spence’s house was bugged for blackmail, but its hatchet job was transparently disingenuous. The Post deployed a contrivance it coined the “skeptical guest” to debunk the notion that Spence’s home had clandestine surveillance. The Post’s “skeptical guest” was an unnamed source, and the Post even neglected to mention the source’s gender or his or her relationship to Spence.

According to the Post, the “skeptical guest” was in attendance at a party in Spence’s D.C. home when a friend of Spence’s, CBS correspondent Liz Trotta, “got down on her hands and knees in the living room and found wires and cables all over the room at floor level. She also found metal fasteners that could have been listening devices, she says, clipped to the bottom of a coffee table. A skeptical guest who witnessed this—who was familiar with the architecture and furnishings—said that one of the so-called bugs was a button-release on the table and that to his knowledge, there were no bugs.”

 

Deborah Jeane Palfrey (AKA, DC Madam) RIP – Part 3

Part 3

The federal government subjected both Ms. Palfrey and me to crucible that was designed to ensure our silence—or ultimately crush us. “They just destroy you on every level—financially, emotionally, psychologically,” Ms. Palfrey reportedly said of federal prosecutors. In the case of Ms. Palfrey, the U.S. Attorney for the District of D.C. smacked her with a 14-count RICO indictment that included money laundering, racketeering, and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a prostitution ring, and she was facing a bewildering 55 years behind bars. RICO is an acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and it was originally designed to dismantle the Mafia, as RICO allows for mob bosses to be tried for crimes that were sanctioned on their behalf. Ms. Palfrey was merely running an escort service, so it seems that the RICO Act was prosecutorial overkill in her circumstances—unless, of course, prosecutors felt it was imperative to leverage her silence.

I, too, was merely running an escort service, but the U.S. Attorney for the District of D.C. walloped me with a 43-count RICO indictment. I was potentially staring at 295 years behind bars. I was also looking at the possibility of a $2 million fine, and, as I’ve previously mentioned, the feds were threatening to indict my mother.

Although my case and Ms. Palfrey’s share numerous parallels, a major point of divergence is the proficiency of our respective attorneys. D.C.-based attorney Montgomery Sibley represented Ms. Palfrey, and Greta Van Susteren represented me. Mr. Sibley vigorously defended Ms. Palfrey, but he had to contend with the feds judicial chicanery and sleight-of-hand. Ms. Palfrey’s initial trial judge had authorized Mr. Sibley’s subpoenas of the White House, State Department, CIA, etc., and he also authorized subpoenas for AT&T Mobility, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile USA, and Alltel, which would have mandated those carriers to provide Ms. Palfrey with the names and addresses of the individuals who contacted her escort service. Inexplicably, Ms. Palfrey’s initial trial judge was replaced by a judge who quashed Mr. Sibley’s subpoenas en masse, and thereby eviscerated the defense’s case.

At the outset of my case, Greta Van Susteren, seemed very committed to a vigorous defense on my behalf, and she deployed a nearly identical tactic as Mr. Sibley—she filed an eleven-page motion to mandate the release of my clientele list that the government had previously seized from me. Ms. Van Susteren argued that the names of my patrons should be released, because, if the government’s assertion was accurate and my “escort” service was, in actuality, a prostitution ring, my clients aided and abetted a criminal enterprise.

But the Assistant U.S. Attorney for D.C. vehemently contested Ms. Van Susteren’s motion and my trial judge sided with the prosecution and barred the public disclosure of my clientele. After my trial judge acquiesced to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. Van Susteren started to change her tune, and she urged me to take the government’s plea bargain.

By then, my family and I had been subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, and I faced life in prison—I felt as if the feds were wielding the Sword of Damocles over my head. At Ms. Van Susteren’s behest, I accepted the government’s plea bargain. The feds also included a caveat that wasn’t overtly stated in my plea agreement: My 5-year sentence was based on the contingency that I not divulge a word about the particulars of my case to the media.

Conversely, Ms. Palfrey opted to fight City Hall, but the U.S. Attorney for D.C. triumphed in her case, and she was found guilty on all counts. As Ms. Palfrey awaited sentencing, she purportedly committed suicide. Ms. Palfrey’s death is mired in conjecture, rumor, and innuendo, and the Internet is rife with speculation that Ms. Palfrey’s suicide was indeed a murder.

Ms. Palfrey publicly stated on a handful of occasions that she would never commit suicide, which buttresses the contentions that she was murdered. Moreover, after Ms. Palfrey’s demise, an Orlando affiliate of CBS interviewed the building manager of the Park Lake Towers in Orlando, where Ms. Palfrey owned a condo. The building manager disclosed that he had talked to Ms. Palfrey just three days before her lifeless body was found in her mother’s aluminum shed. “Jeane Palfrey was a class act,” said the building manager. “Her way out of this world certainly would not have been in an aluminum shed attached to a mobile home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.” The manager also discussed a disturbing conversation that he had with Ms. Palfrey: “She insinuated that there is a contract out for her, and I fully believe they succeeded.”

The Washington Post was quick to declare that Palfrey had taken her own life—despite the possibility of indications to the contrary. I mention the latter point because the Washington Post reported a myriad of details about my case that were inaccurate—despite the possibility of indications to the contrary—or solely based on the word of federal law enforcement officials. Although I’m unwilling to speculate whether or not the death of Ms. Palfrey was a suicide or a murder, I feared for my life when I was a D.C. madam due to the threats discharged by government officials and also by individuals who were reportedly affiliated with the government.

Greta and Me Part 5

GRETA AND ME – Part Five

Judge Greene set June 12th as my sentencing date, so I flew back to D.C. on June 11th. My mother met me at D.C.’s Washington National Airport, and we spent the night at Aunt Josephine’s house, who lived just outside of Washington, DC. The next morning, when we arrived at the courthouse, I rendezvoused with Greta who was standing outside the courtroom. She had a distressed look on her face. As I had feared, the government decided to pull a dirty trick at the eleventh hour. Shortly before my sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Strasser filed a memorandum with Judge Greene asserting that I should be sentenced above the guidelines, because I hadn’t screened the escorts I employed for HIV, and thus had perpetrated untold death and misery.

So I was extremely apprehensive as I followed Greta into the courtroom to face Judge Greene. After I expressed contrition for my crimes, Judge Greene launched into a protracted diatribe about the downward departure that had been proposed for my “substantial assistance.”  “Why propose this departure?” Judge Greene asked. “I can’t recall a single case in which the government has asked for departure before just because somebody pleaded guilty and got others to plead . . . I don’t think it’s warranted. . .”

My sentencing had suddenly taken on the surreal proportions of a horrific nightmare, and Judge Greene had yet to address Strasser’s memorandum about Henry Vinson being the progenitor of the HIV virus in Washington, D.C. Judge Greene asked Strasser if he were aware of anyone who had contracted HIV from an escort whom I employed, and Strasser couldn’t mention a single individual, which demonstrated that his memorandum to Judge Greene had been unfounded. Judge Greene then sentenced me to 63 months in a federal prison, and he ruled that I be immediately remanded into custody. As the U.S. marshals escorted me out of the courtroom, my mother was weeping, and Aunt Josephine was comforting her.

With Greta as my attorney, the government accomplished all of its objectives. I didn’t utter a word to the media about the mindboggling, illicit malfeasance I had witnessed, so the government saved itself from a scandal of epic proportions. Judge Greene also gave me the consolation prize of 63 months in a federal prison.

I find rather interesting that the some of the individuals who played an instrumental role in either ensuring or abetting my silence, especially Greta Greta and Jay Stephens, the U.S. Attorney for the District of DC, have experienced remarkable upward mobility. Greta has experienced a sharp upwardly mobile trajectory since I was initially imprisoned. Shortly after Judge Harold Greene banished me to federal prison, Van Susteren started co-hosting CNN’s Burden of Proof, and then she hosted CNN’s The Point with Greta Van Susteren. Greta made her vaunted leap to FOX in 2002, where she’s been transformed into a media superstar, hosting On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. I’m slightly perplexed that FOX, a news outlet that caters to religious and conservative Americans, would elevate a Scientologist to its pantheon of superstars.

U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens, whose office oversaw the corrupt grand jury that walloped me with a potential sentence of 295 years, was appointed United States Associate Attorney General by President George W. Bush in 2001. But Associate Attorney General proved to be a two-year pit stop for Stephens, because in 2002 he became a vice president of the Raytheon Corporation, the world’s fifth largest defense contractor, and also the world’s leading producer of guided missiles.

Greta and Me – Part 1

My trusted attorney, Greta Van Susteren, sold me out, but in retrospect, I should have been wary of her, because a Washington Post reporter who interviewed my mother suggested that I retain her as my defense lawyer. And the Washington Post did everything in its considerable power to cover up the true facts of my case and also to assassinate my character.

My initial meeting with Greta, which lasted around three hours, occurred after the Secret Service had raided my home. I furnished her with the nuances of my life over the preceding three years. I explained the DC blackmail operation that ensnared me, and I named several powerful and affluent men who either procured escorts through me or procured them through one of the architects of the blackmail operation. I also edified (enlightened?) her about the pedophile network that was organized by these architects. In addition, I mentioned the threat that had been parsed out to me by a member of George H.W. Bush’s cabinet. I handed her credit card receipts, copies of checks, and lists of my clients too.

Greta never seemed perturbed or shocked by any of my revelations, but took them all in stride very professionally. Greta said that she had previously handled sensitive cases like mine in federal court, and she told me that the government would be averse to baring such sordid details in a court of law—she felt that I would most likely end up with probation. She said that if I were indicted, she would make a motion for the government to release a list of my clients, and that would force the government to be conciliatory towards me. Greta impressed me with her aplomb and also with her quick, snappy answers to my numerous questions, so I left her office feeling a sense of tranquility that I hadn’t experienced in months.