Year in Review Continues: Michelle Braun Goes to Court; McKenzie Lee One of Her Girls Says Gov’t Docs

Michelle Braun [pictured] became the most talked about Madam since Heidi Fleiss when she appeared in federal court, accused of having pocketed more than $8.5 million from an online prostitution business that employed porn stars and fashion models.

Braun – accused of charging clients as much as $50,000 or more per night with a prostitute – pleaded not guilty to two charges. She was charged with money laundering and transporting an individual from Orange County to New York City for the purposes of prostitution.

Braun, who lives in Boca Raton, agreed to cooperate fully with federal authorities, according to her plea agreement. The agreement was that the judge sentence her to five years of probation with no more than six months of home confinement, as well as a $30,000 fine. Braun, otherwise, faced between 12 to 18 months in prison and between a $3,000 and $30,000 fine, according to the government’s calculation of federal guidelines.

Braun allegedly operated an online business through her corporation, Global Travel Network, Inc., with the assistance of her husband and sister, according to court records in a separate money-forfeiture case involving Braun. The company was “disguised as a travel and security business and was used to facilitate the laundering of Braun’s prostitution proceeds,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank D. Kortum. The government was seeking to take about $325,000 in the related case.

Braun’s clients paid thousands of dollars to be set up with the prostitutes – who were advertised to be adult film stars, top professional fashion models, centerfolds and actresses. Braun’s clients first paid a $1,500 introduction fee, according to the government.

Travel fees started at $8,000 per day and the Platinum Club range started at $8,000 and went up to more than $50,000 for an evening. On one Web site, Braun listed specific details of “guaranteed privacy, exclusivity and quality,” according to court records.

Seventy-one women worked for Braun – 50 who were listed online as residing in Los Angeles, while two lived in Orange County. Each of the women had a photograph and a detailed bio, which listed their sexual fantasies. The alleged ring was discovered after an undercover FBI agent submitted a membership application on the Web site in March 2006. After paying a $2,500 retainer fee, the undercover agent had access to photos of 138 women, including porn performer McKenzie Lee.

Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman, said the case against Braun was part of an ongoing investigation and that additional charges or arrests were possible. Those we haven’t seen as yet but you know they’re coming.

This past year we had Devon on My Space claiming that convicted felong Jack Venice raped her during the production of Devon Does Baja. However Shane’s World, in turn, categorically denied her claims and was considering suing her ass, and that was pretty much end of story.

Victor Verrett, the former sales manager of Elegant Angel and Evil Angel Productions, passed away from cancer at the age of 55. Verrett was notable for his larger than life personality, generosity, and his extensively-honored military service in Vietnam.

Verrett worked for Evil Angel Productions from 1993 to 2000, when according to longtime friend Patrick Collins, he quit over a dispute with Stagliano.

“John didn’t fire him; he quit, because John had given him shit,” Collins said. “He inferred that Victor had lied, and Victor was the kind of guy that you don’t disrespect.”

However, Stagliano remembers Verrett as a good, loyal employee.

“He was a good salesman when we were just selling VHS,” Stagliano recalled. “He was a good, aggressive salesman in the late ’90s for me.Victor could be a really fun guy to be around. He could laugh like nobody else.”

After leaving Evil Angel, Verrett briefly opened up his own video distribution company in the San Fernando Valley, before returning to Las Vegas and going into the landscaping business.

Another victim of the porn recession, veteran online advertising solutions shop TrafficDude announced the immediate cessation of its services.

Advertisers and publishers were notified of the company’s closure and of the principal’s personal bankruptcy liquidation in a letter from attorney Mac Gallegos, which apologized for any inconvenience to clients and noted that advertisers “with a balance of undelivered campaigns will be paid from the proceeds of the liquidation of all assets.”

One more victim of the porn economy, AVN announced the postponement of the first-ever AVN Novelty Expo Europe, originally planned in Amsterdam, citing the global economy and, of all things, the influenza outbreak as its main concerns.

“Interest in the show was dampened by a worsening global economy that we could not have predicted when the show was first launched, leading numerous buyers and exhibitors to request a postponement,” the show’s website stated.

Another company that bit the dust but for different reasons was Defiance Films.

The Grand Vizier writes the obit: “I made some calls around town and found out that Ron Levi killed Defiance Films (Chapter 11) in an attempt to avoid going to Arbitration with Metro. This action was preceded by Metro crushing Matrix Content in a separate Arbitration hearing. A lot of testimony on the record came out about true ownership of Defiance and who was controlling all the attacks against Metro. Matrix tried to appeal the decision and lost . . . which would have set up the next arbitration with Defiance. However, immediately after the ruling of the arbitrator and the loss on appeal, Defiance Films filed for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy seems to put a stay on the Defiance matter, for now.

“Ron Levi seems to be the one in control of both Matrix and Defiance. Levi is the one that engineered a federal lawsuit against Metro and others for copyright violations that really didn’t happen. Seems it was a leverage ploy to make Metro stop their attack on Matrix and Defiance for interference of Metro’s business. Norman Bentley, an officer of Matrix, and others stated under oath that Metro had permission to use the pictures that Matrix had claimed a copyright violation.

“Meanwhile Defiance is now out of business . . . and Levi has retained control of the company’s assets including inventory, masters, stills and more, yet he has now shut out the the real founders of the company, Simone, O’Connor and Bentley. I also heard that this entire case could have settled long ago, but Levi thought he couldn’t lose, that he was smarter than Guarino. Now Matrix has been ordered to pay $500k in damages, and Levi stuck Bentley with thousands of dollars of legal bills.

“During the arbitration hearing and other depositions it came out as part of the official record that Anthony Simone, Keith O’Connor, Norman Bentley and Ron Levi were the 4 founders and owners of Defiance Films. Matrix lawyers (who also happen to be Defiance lawyers paid by Ron Levi) disputed that point and argued that none of the above mentioned people were owners of Defiance and that Kristi Luhar was the only owner of Defiance Films, which everyone knows was a lie. Levi’s lawyers claimed that Simone left his job as Head of Sales for Metro making $65,000 plus commission a year in exchange for a job with Defiance as an employee making $40,000.

“Levi’s lawyers tried to convince the arbitrator that O’Connor wrote the business plan for Defiance, came up with the name, designed the logo and quit his job making $200,000 a year as GM and Head of Production at Metro so that he could give the company to Luhar for free and in exchange get a salaried position for $50,000.

“At the end of the case, the arbitrator believed Metro’s side of things and blasted the silliness of Levi’s lawyers claims that Luhar was the ‘sole’ owner. In reality, Levi was concerned of the legal action by Kenny Guarino and Metro, and he suggested that none of the 4 owners be listed on the company documents, instead putting Levi’s girlfriend Kristi Luhar as principal and owner. I am told that Luhar never even attended a meeting and knew nothing about the activities of Defiance.

“What does all this mean? It’s pretty clear now that Metro is penetrating into the Levi empire and the fact that Luhar was just a front for Defiance planted by Levi. Once the Matrix Arbitration concluded Levi plucked out all the assets of Defiance and closed its doors, even though those doors are still in Levi’s office building in Calabasas. So it looks like this bankruptcy could be challenged as a fraud because all the real founders, Simone, O’Connor and Bentley got screwed out of their 75% ownership.”

A porn chick with a Master’s Degree? We were astounded as well when Vivid announced their signing of AJ Bailey to a contract. Born and raised in St. Louis, Bailey dropped out of high school in her junior year and went to live in Australia for two years. She returned to America at age 19, got her GED (high school equivalency diploma) and enrolled in a community college. She then transferred to the University of Missouri, from which she earned her bachelor’s degree. While studying for her master’s degree at St. Andrews University, the same school attended by Prince William only a year earlier, she would finance her studies abroad by earning money as an adult model on a sexually explicit website.

Is Porn That depicts subjugation of Hispanic women tied to the rise of hate crimes against Latinos?

Says Alternet.Org: “Day after day, week after week, month after month, videos claiming to depict the rape of Latina maids or Mexican women seeking green cards, etc., have appeared in the top five videos of the day, often in the No. 1 spot, with high ratings from the site’s users.

“Often, these videos depict women crying, begging for mercy and enduring unwanted anal sex. (The popularity of Latinas in these videos is all the more alarming when one considers that Latina actresses comprise less than half of 1 percent of all TV and movie roles in the United States.)
“I have little doubt that the increase in Internet pornography depicting the rapes of Hispanic women is playing a vital role in the rise of hate crimes against Hispanic women.”

One of our beloved dopes of the week was German porn star Blonde Cora. Cora attempted to break a “world record” by sucking off 200 fellow dopes in a park in Hamburg Germany. Unfortunately, after she finished the 75th dope, Cora began experiencing breathing problems and had to be rushed to the hospital. We wonder if it was the overpowering smell of dick cheese that made her vapor lock.

We suggest to Cora that if she ever attempts this again that she first hire Takeru Kobayashi to help train her. Kobayashi held the world record for hot dog eating for nearly six years. Maybe he could help her on proper breathing techniques, because Cora needs all the help she can get.

Mary Carey, the Foster Brooks of the porn industry, announced that she would be releasing her comeback flick titled “Celebrity Pornhab with Dr. Screw.” It appeared that she was taking a shot at Dr. Drew Pinsky, famed TV rehab guru, because he suggested she quit making porn as part of her rehab.

Rebecca Bargy and her husband were into bondage which can be harmless when two consenting adults want to have a little fun. But it’s criminally negligent homicide when you leave your husband to suffocate after being gagged while you go off to see your boyfriend. Hey, Rebecca was only gone for 20 hours.

Danica Wallace, a Mother of the Year candidate, was arrested for having sex in a parked car while her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter were in the back seat. Mommy failed a sobriety test and police found open beer bottles and marijuana residue in the car as well.

In front of a judge, Mommy said that she wasn’t having sex; she actually spilled her beer and was changing her pants when police rolled up. Okay, so she was just drinking beer and smoking marijuana while her children were in the back seat. That makes it all better doesn’t it.

Among her many accolades this year, Sasha Grey also took the Ben Bernanke award with this incisive, Darwinian comment:

“For the past year, a lot of smaller companies in the adult business are going under, which, at the end of the day, will be better for the adult industry because you’re weeding out the smaller companies that don’t have anything creative or original to offer.”

It’s only the bigger companies that can aspire to the originality porn parodies, as we all know.

Proving that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family was easier to get along with, Larry Flynt struck early in the year with court papers going after his nephews, Dewey and Huey, for infringing the Flynt trademark, but Jimmy Flynt came right back when he sued Larry over a rent dispute involving the Downtown Hustler store in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Jimmy filed the case, accusing brother Larry of “sheer retaliation” by trying to evict him from the 411 Elm St. building that houses the Hustler business owned by Jimmy Flynt.

Larry Flynt was upset, the suit noted, because Jimmy’s two sons were using the Flynt name in a porn venture not affiliated with Larry Flynt — and could be seen as competition for the porn king.

“Larry has stopped Jimmy’s salary through (Larry Flynt’s companies) without just cause and without explanation,” Jimmy Flynt’s suit noted.

“Larry has threatened to take away Jimmy’s livelihood to include all sources of income in an attempt to settle the California action ‘on his terms.’ ” The suit accused Larry Flynt of falsely accusing Jimmy Flynt of being late on the rent for the Cincinnati Hustler store.

Jimmy Flynt said it was a misunderstanding and when it was pointed out, he paid his brother more than $31,000 in owed rent. Despite that, Jimmy Flynt said his brother was insistant on kicking him out of the Elm Street store, a move that would kill that business.

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