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Elite Escorts Trial: Woman testifies she took money for sex in Palm Springs prostitution ring

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Palm Springs – from www.mydesert.com – A woman testified Wednesday that she took money for sex while working for an Israeli accused of running a prostitution ring in Rancho Mirage.

Arielle Yori, who worked for Elite escort service in Palm Springs from 2003 to 2005, said she chose to engage in prostitution during that time.

Elite co-owner Ofer Moses Lupovitz [pictured], 48, is accused of running an interstate prostitution ring based in Palm Springs. He is charged with 180 felony counts, ranging from money laundering to tax evasion in the alleged crime ring dismantled in 2006.

Lupovitz is being tried on charges of conspiracy and pimping and pandering only, with the other charges on hold pending the outcome of the case.

Under questioning from defense attorney Ronald Richards, Yori said no one at Elite forced her to stay with the escort service.

“You decided you wanted to do what you wanted to make more money?” Richards asked. “No one interfered with what you wanted to do, correct?”

“Correct,” she said.

Under questioning from Richards, she said no one at Elite controlled days and times she worked, or the kinds of sex acts offered. She said she started relationships with some men she met through Elite.

She left the company at the end of 2005 when a situation went bad in Las Vegas, she said.

Yori testified that clients usually paid by credit card, and Elite paid her with checks.

“You don’t have credit card receipts, all the credit card receipts were turned in to the company?” Deputy District Attorney Kelly Sedochenkoff asked. Yori said yes.

“Defense counsel asked several times if you could do whatever you wanted at Elite?” Sedochenkoff asked.

“Yes,” Yori said.

Pressed further by Sedochenkoff, Yori said the women, who Richards said were considered independent contractors, had to pay Elite “fines’’ in some cases, for instance, if meetings with clients lasted longer than a set time.

“So it was controlled in a way,” Sedochenkoff said.

Yori testified Tuesday that women who wanted to work for Elite were photographed in the office, signed a “dancer’s contract’’ and picked a stage name. They called the office when they were available to work, and employees in the office sent them to clients, she said.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Richards said only a few women at Elite broke prostitution laws, and they did it without his client’s knowledge.

Sedochenkoff said Lupovitz and co-owner Bo Benmoshe knew they were selling sex, and Lupovitz would sometimes ask women what happened afterward.

Lupovitz, free on bail, was indicted along with six other people, three of whom have been convicted. The suspect are at large.

Prosecutors contend Lupovitz and fellow Israeli national Benmoshe – who is a fugitive — ran the Elite escort service from 2002 to 2006, at one time employing as many as 200 prostitutes in California, Arizona and Oregon.

Lupovitz’s wife, Gabrell Lukow, has already pleaded guilty, along with two other women, Stephanie Michelle Vintrov and Melanie Smith.

The whereabouts of Lupovitz’s alleged associates — Benmoshe, Moti Vintrov and Eliran Vintrov — are unknown.

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