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Friday, March 23, 2007
Restraining order covers reputed black book in D.C. area prostitution

Debora Jeane Palfrey, the accused "D.C. Madam," will not be able to reveal her client list for now.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Prosecutors won a restraining order from a federal court against the distribution of a list of clients a woman compiled as part of an alleged large-scale prostitution ring that they say served the nation's capital from 1993 until last year.

A judge ordered the protection Thursday for "all records reflecting clients or customers of the enterprise" named in a multi-count racketeering and money-laundering indictment against Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

Prosecutors believe she ran a California-based service called "Pamela Martin & Associates" that involved more than 100 women, and used forwarded local phone numbers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere to take calls from customers.

In court papers released late Thursday, U.S. District judge Gladys Kessler ordered a ban on "any action that would affect the availability, marketability or value of said property." Palfrey herself had revealed the existence of the client list and said she needed to use it to raise money for her defense.

The judge had already restricted access to stock funds and investment money linked to Palfrey's business that would be subject to forfeiture if she is convicted. The largest holdings include nearly $400,000 with Charles Schwab, and another $11,000 with Wells Fargo.

The client list is said to include some 15,000 customers, and as a business asset would be subject to forfeiture upon conviction. Meantime, the list is held by Palfrey and her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, who filed a civil case against one of the women accusing her of breach of contract.

On Monday, Sibley said one copy has gone to a media outlet that has been trying to match telephone numbers and names. Judge Kessler made the ban retroactive, prohibiting any "other disposition of such materials as may have occurred prior to service of this Order."

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia William Cowden said the government's case may include testimony from people who allegedly patronized Palfrey's business.

-- CNN's Paul Courson

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