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Palos Park Madam Meets the Taxman

Chicago- Dawn Hansel had beaten the rap three times when accused of running one of the priciest call girl rings in the county from Palos Park, but she could not escape the taxman.

U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras on Wednesday sentenced a teary-eyed Hansel to a year in federal prison, three months after she pleaded guilty to five income tax violations.

Federal officials alleged Hansel shorted the government about $250,000 in income taxes. The indictment said she would require female models and performers to pay fees to her in cash.

“I think what we see in court is a different person than the one we see outside of court,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian Havey, referring to the emotional Hansel.

Asked if she wanted to make a statement, Hansel choked up and grasped her attorney’s arm.

“This is a woman who is very caring,” said Hansel’s attorney, Robert Kuzas. “This is not a crime of violence.”

Hansel, 36, ran Vogue Fashions in the late 1990s from her $750,000, 1.5-acre estate. The business, she said, called for women to model lingerie and dance at special events such as bachelor parties.

The Cook County sheriff’s office thought differently of the business, launching a two-month undercover sting in 2000 that led to criminal charges of pandering and juvenile pimping.

The sheriff’s operation included two female undercover investigators who answered an advertisement for Vogue Fashions and were sent to meet a client who allegedly wanted two prostitutes, sheriff’s officials said. One of the investigators posed as a 15-year-old girl.

Authorities alleged Vogue Fashions was a front for a $400-an-hour sex-for-hire ring, one of the most expensive rates officials had heard of at that time.

The charges resulted in three criminal cases. In two cases, juries acquitted Hansel. The third case was dropped before the trial started.

Hansel, who authorities called the Palos Park Madam, always proclaimed her innocence. If any act of prostitution was committed, Hansel said she had no part in it.

The state’s attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office had no comment Wednesday on her federal court sentencing.

The sheriff’s office and Palos Park police helped Internal Revenue Service agents pursue the tax case against Hansel, who prosecutors say now lives in a $1 million North Barrington home.

In 2003, a federal grand jury indicted her on three counts of filing false tax returns for 1996, 1997 and 1999. She also was charged with one count of tax evasion and making false statements to the IRS. Kuzas had argued for a more lenient sentence, one that would require her to live in a halfway house for a period of time.

Kocoras sentenced Hansel to the lower end of the 12 to 18 month sentencing guideline range, saying in response to the plea for leniency that her background did not produce “something he could hang his hat on.”

Hansel, a mother of four, including triplets, was ordered to turn herself in Jan. 10.

Her children are in her ex-husband’s custody, her lawyer said.

“I am sure she would have liked the judge to deviate from the sentencing guidelines to some degree,” Kuzas said. “But she knew that this would be the best possible sentence.”

Palos Park Police Chief Joe Miller said Hansel’s conviction and sentence is vindication for residents who had the name of their upscale town dragged through the mud when the prostitution allegations began in 2000.

“I think regrettably over time, when I say where I am from, people remember the `Palos Park Madam,'” Miller said. “A rather quiet, tranquil community became known as the home of the `Palos Park Madam.'”

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