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Extortion Victim’s Name a Secret Under Federal Plea Deal With Alleged Prostitute

Posted Feb 18, 2009 3:53 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Yesterday the Boston Globe reported about a federal plea deal in which an alleged prostitute accused of extorting a six-figure sum from a married businessman is to get a light sentence in exchange for following the prosecution's lead and keeping the victim's name secret.

Now the Boston federal district court's chief judge is asking lawyers for both sides to explain why a significant departure is being made from the usual prison term that would be called for under federal sentencing guidelines, the Globe reports in a follow-up article today.

Ordinarily, a 33- to 41-month prison term would be standard. However, the plea deal reportedly calls for Michelle Robinson, 29, to get six months. The plea was negotiated on the unnamed businessman's behalf by former US Attorney Donald Stern, who is now in private practice.

"Why should he be given any type of preferential treatment?" asks Bernard Grossberg, a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer who has been watching the case from the sidelines. "I'm sure there are many other victims who don't want their names publicized. And paying for sex is a crime in Massachusetts."

Depending on the answers that Chief Judge Mark Wolf gets to essentially that question, a scheduled sentencing hearing on Friday for Robinson may be postponed.

She is accused of extorting $280,000 in cash from the businessman, and seeking to extort another $300,000, in exchange for keeping secret their prior liaisons.

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