One of the more interesting aspects of the Spitzer prostitution scandal is the possibly of a charge under the Mann Act. It is quite a difference for the governor. Under the Mann Act, he could be looking at 20 years while under the D.C. law it would be only 90 days.
The Mann Act makes it illegal to persuade or induce an individual to cross state lines for the purpose of prostitution. It is rarely used against “johns”, but it can technically be used against Spitzer. It has been used in past celebrity cases, click here.
The district law allows for only 90 days for a first offender.
District of Columbia District of Columbia Code DIVISION IV CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE AND PRISONERS TITLE 22 CRIMINAL OFFENSES AND PENALTIES
§ 22-2701. Engaging in prostitution or soliciting for prostitution.
It is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or to solicit for prostitution. The penalties for violation of this section shall be a fine of $500 or not more than 90 days imprisonment, or both, for the first offense, a fine of $750 or not more than 135 days imprisonment, or both, for the second offense, and a fine of $1,000 or not more than 180 days imprisonment, or both, for the third and each subsequent offense.
Given the reports that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was heard on a wiretap arranging for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington to meet in his hotel room, it appears that he has violated the Mann Act. This federal law carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment for knowingly persuading or inducing any individual to cross state lines for the purposes of prostitution. Governor Spitzer also appears to have violated District of Columbia law, making it unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or to solicit for prostitution. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of up to $500, or both, for the first offense.
It appears, however, that there are allegations of money laundering, but it is not clear that Spitzer was allegedly involved in such activities. There is also the danger that he may have given false statements to investigators or acted in a way that could result in obstruction charges. Finally, this conduct could be the based for an impeachment proceeding unless, as expected, he resigns.