Filed under: Steve Huff’s posts at Radar

The Spitzer Scandal *UPDATED*

CHECK THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR AN UPDATE, ADDED 3/13/08. This entry was originally published 3/10, and has been updated for today to keep it at the top of the index page.

If you haven’t already heard, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) has some ‘splainin’ to do. Quoting from the New York Times:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who gained national prominence relentlessly pursuing Wall Street wrongdoing, has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation…

That’s right, the Governor of New York, once a hardassed, vice-prosecuting attorney general, may have been doing some high-class whoring.

The “escort service” that allegedly “serviced” Gov. Spitzer (AKA ‘Client 9‘) was Emperors Club VIP. I’ve got a post up on Radar‘s “Fresh Intelligence” weblog about how the club’s web presence evolved over time:

A Look at the Emperors Club.

Nothing earth-shattering, but it may be enlightening, at the very least. Do not visit some of the links from my Radar post if you’re surfing from work. Please recommend the entry it if you find it interesting.

Additional link: Affidavit related to the case.

UPDATE, 3/13/08

I work for my readers. That’s why I can provide you with the following records of some web pages worth noting in relation to this story. They are all of alleged Spitzer call girl Ashley Dupre’s MySpace pages as they appeared about 24 hours ago, give or take. I sent all these docs to an editor at Radar last night, as well. (Here’s the entry where “Fresh Intelligence” utilized some of the files.)

I was waiting to see if Ms. Dupre would delete her “Nina Venetta” music profile and the associated blog. After thousands of (often hilarious) blog comments and hearings of her songs, she deleted the account sometime early this afternoon. It was interesting while it lasted.

The following documents are pdfs, and since that format is notoriously difficult to load in a Web browser, I’ve provided a route to loading the links easily, through PDFMeNot.com. The original pdf docs are hosted by my True Crime Magazine server. To see those, just remove the PDFMeNot portion of the link. To navigate any PDFMeNot file, just move the slider on the top right side of the page to enlarge the image, and click the radio buttons to page through each document. The last file, for example (#4), is 10 pages — if you’re not aware that you need to navigate that way, you may think the pdf has been truncated.

UPDATE 2

Weirdly, it looks as though MySpace “accidentally” deleted Dupre’s “Nina Venetta” pages. They’ve been restored:

http://www.myspace.com/ninavenetta
http://blog.myspace.com/ninavenetta

Do yourself a favor and read the comments on the blog. They are priceless, if you’re ever inclined to schadenfreude.

Faux Memoirist Margaret "Peggy" Seltzer: So I turned over some rocks…

I’ve been fascinated for a few days now with the story of author Margaret “Peggy” Seltzer and her fake memoir, Love and Consequences.

Seltzer wanted others to believe that she was Margaret B. Jones, AKA “Bree,” a half-white, half Native American woman who spent her youth as a foster child in South Central Los Angeles. Her book received cushy coverage from the New York Times after the its release, and that was Seltzer’s undoing. Her own sister called the Times to let them know the memoir was fiction. Truth was, Peggy Seltzer was a thoroughly white Valley Girl who attended the same private school made famous a few years after her graduation by students like the Olsen Twins.

Seltzer came clean and the book was pulled off the shelves. Naturally, everyone in the print media started going at the story hammer and tongs.

There may not be any major crime to write about here, but a literary fraud is still a fraud.

So I dug up some interesting stuff on Peggy Seltzer and the results have been published by Radar:

Seltzer Honed Homegirl Hosejob on AOL.”

Do me a favor if you like the story and recommend it — because dammit, I scooped everyone on this score. I scooped the Times, which has covered this story closely since Seltzer confessed her deception. I scooped Gawker.com, the infamous gossip blog, and they’ve been all over this story.

I guess I took it as a personal challenge when FishbowlLA wrote, “Motoko Rich owns the Peggy Seltzer story, and don’t even think of nabbing a tiny bit of it.” Sorry, FishbowlLA — that was just like waving a red flag in front of me. Motoko Rich at the Times really does own the majority of the story, but I took a big juicy bite, couldn’t help it.

I would also appreciate comments on the story at its location — Radar requires a very brief registration, but it’s worth your time if you want to leave comments on other stories later.

I wasn’t able to include everything I found related to Seltzer’s online life in the Radar piece. I’m still working those angles, because they are truly weird and fascinating. If I can’t come up with something solid enough for the paying gig, you may hear more about it in this space.

I have to admit — something about this story pissed me off, personally. How many times have people with real stories been bypassed by the publishing industry in favor of fabulists like Seltzer and James Frey? And what is it with these writers from privileged backgrounds creating narratives about hardships they never experienced? There’s just something galling as hell about literary liars like Margaret Seltzer. I think Seltzer may have had an altruistic desire to give a voice to people like the characters she created, but what she really did was expose an incredibly condescending, peculiarly American viewpoint held by many from privileged circumstances.

Much of the commentary I’ve read about Love and Consequences has focused on asking why Seltzer’s editor and publishers didn’t fact-check her. While that’s a perfectly valid question, the most important question to me is this — who the hell did she think she was? Folks should be asking, “how dare she?”

OK — proto-rant over. Go read what I wrote and follow the links to get a fuller understanding of the story, and why it pissed me off.

NOTES:

FishbowlLA gives a nod to the scoopage described above — thanks, Kate.

Kevin Allman also takes note and follows up on an angle I couldn’t fit into the Radar piece — potentially a very interesting, strange angle at that. Go for it, Kevin.

Young Manhattanite acknowledges the find and spanks those crazy kids at Gawker a bit in the process.

Some Random Things

MY OWN ANGLE ON THE ALLEGED McCAIN SCANDAL

I’ve got a short item up at Radar‘s “Fresh Intelligence” documenting mysterious online posts made well in advance of the New York Times article that first hit the Web last night:

Anonymous Web Poster Had Goods on McCain, Times.

It all may be much ado about nothing, these allegations of improprieties on McCain’s part, but I do have to wonder how someone cottoned onto the more prurient aspect of the story well in advance of the biggest paper in the nation. Inside information, perhaps?

If you like any piece posted at RadarOnline.com, please click “Recommend it” at the bottom of the post.

THANK YOU, AGAIN

I am so grateful to everyone who has responded to this post, both with donations and in the comments. I just don’t think I can say that enough. You are helping more than you know.

THIS HAS BOTHERED ME FOR A WHILE

This is an appropriate question to ask on a crime blog, I think.

A few years ago I was singing at a large, wealthy Catholic church in Buckhead. It was a paying gig for me and a tenor friend of mine, and a good one. The music director, though, was kind of demented. Just plain, old-fashioned crazy. One example — he seemed to completely improvise his pre-service music on the organ. And we’re not talking about brilliant improvisation, either. Just noodling. No one noticed.

Anyway, one Saturday (Saturday evening mass) something very strange happened. While we were in service, someone took dumps in the stairwell leading from the ground floor up to the balcony, where the organ and choir were located. The phantom crapper dropped loads on two landings, if I recall correctly.

To any psychologists, profilers, or psychiatrists out there: what could possibly be the psychology behind that? I only encountered such strange behavior one other time in my life, when I worked at a large department store in Knoxville. Shortly after a police crackdown on guys trysting in a bathroom on the second floor of that store, somebody took a dump in a stall in a mens’ changing room.

What the heck is going through the mind of a phantom crapper? I can figure out a lot of things, but that one mystifies and bothers me to this very day.

MY VISIT TO THE ER

I had to go to the ER yesterday, but not for myself. Read this post at my personal weblog to see why. And remember to do the Pirate Dance.

OTHER STUFF

I’m behind in posting a couple of entries I’d planned for this blog, but I’m still welcoming suggestions for current, unsolved serial cases to cover in a post. Leave links and info in the comments below — and thank you to those of you who have already done this on a previous post.

Tuesday Morning Note, 2/19/08

I only have a moment, but I wanted to plug this Radar story I submitted last night:

Randy Jackson Using American Idol to Push His Failed Artists?

The title tells you a lot. Click and read to find out some details. If you like the piece, be sure to click “recommend it” at the bottom of the post. Other Radar contributors might appreciate it if you do that for anything you read there.

And VoteFortheWorst.com would really appreciate some credit from other journalists out there who take their cues from what that site turns up. There’s some real buzz in the mainstream media lately about the possibility that Idol is basically rigged by placing bona fide professional singers in the “top 24,” and VFTW is the site that’s been ahead of the curve in covering that angle all along.

I am planning on a post for this blog sometime today or tomorrow about the alarming number of unsolved serial murder cases currently in the news. I’m keeping track of most of them, but I welcome suggestions in the comments below for current unsolved serial sprees to cover in the next blog entry. In a similar vein, you may want to check out this blog by former Crime Library scribe David Lohr: Serial Killer News Briefs.

UPDATED Notes for 2/11/08 & 2/12/08

BOBBY CUTTS LIVE

Have you been watching the hideousness that is the Bobby Cutts show? The ex-cop is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Jessie Davis, a case detailed in part in this blog in these entries:

Mysteriously Missing: Jessie Davis.”
Bobby Cutts Jr., AKA DALAW150.”

I watched large chunks of Cutts’s sobfest as it aired on MSNBC, and couldn’t quit thinking about how the guy was never going to win any Oscars for the nauseating show he was putting on for the court and the cameras.

He’ll never sell his ludicrous story of how Jessie died, either — that it was an accident. No sensible jury could possibly buy such a farce.

That’s the hallmark of psychopaths the world over — they don’t really know, when the stress is on, that the mask has cracked. Certain that their charm and earnest manner will carry the day, they just keep trying. Or in Cutts’s case, crying.

THE OBLIGATORY RADAR PLUG

Hey, I like the subjects they let me cover there. My “Fresh Intelligence” post for today:

Randy Quaid Banned from Theater by Actors Union.”

To be honest, I liked Randy Quaid. He was a character actor’s character actor, a guy who could play comedy, drama, you name it, with equal ease. Then I did a little research for the post you’ll read at the other end of that link above.

Basically, at the end of the 80’s Quaid married a smokin’ hot young limo driver named Evi, and it looks like his life has only gotten stranger (downhill might not be too accurate) ever since. Evi Quaid is Randy’s manager. She’s also an auteur, a photographer and model (link almost NSFW) and just maybe a scary-ass psycho in her own right. Whatever the deal is, she isn’t doing her husband any favors at the moment. And no, he doesn’t sound like he’s screwed on all that tight, either.

Click “recommend it” on my post if you like it, but as always, poke around Radar‘s site for a while and recommend anything you like. There’s some pretty entertaining stuff to be found there.

GROW UP, Y’ALL

A note for folks still leaving comments referencing this True Crime Weblog post: those of you who are over 18 — and I think it’s most of you — really need to have your license to be called a grown-up revoked. I’d go in and just delete the whole shebang, but I don’t have the time right now. Anyone bored enough to follow the comment link will see what I’m talking about right away.

I know the obsessives snarking uselessly at one another in that thread don’t even read this blog otherwise (at least most of them don’t), but for the few of you who do, let me introduce you to the very thing you embody: “John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory.” Please, if you do nothing else, follow that link, see yourself, and go get a life. For added emphasis, let me point you to another excellent illustration of the essential nature of Internet Debates.

For the record, I get all new comments in my GMail every half-hour, so yes, I get the gist of most of it. And yes, it’s damned irritating, in this case.

PLUGGITY

It’s not crime-related, but I may have solved a wee literary mystery. I’ve posted about it in my personal blog, Random Lunatic News (StevenHuff.net). I’ve been working on it for a while, and now some Wikipedians are weighing in.

PLUGGITY-PLUG PLUG, RADAR AGAIN ON 2/12/08

This somehow seems more appropriate to plug than a Radar post about Randy Quaid’s Equity woes:

The Mysterious Case of ’90 Day Jane.'”

It’s my post for “Fresh Intelligence” about a rather dark, new Internet phenomenon, 90 Day Jane. Jane says she’s going to commit suicide in just a little less than 3 months, and she’s documenting the effort in her blog.

The funny thing is, I spent a good deal of the night last night writing this entry at Random Lunatic News: “The Strange Tale of 90 Day Jane.” In that entry I said that Jane might become a new thing on the Internet, a phenomenon, but I wasn’t sure, yet. Then this morning I got an e-mail from one of my editors at Radar asking me if I’d like to dig into — what else? — the same allegedly suicidal Jane. Guess I read that one right, after all.

Where the blog entry for Radar is short and to the point, my personal blog post is detailed and delves a little into autobiography, for I couldn’t examine a blog purporting to document a suicide’s descent into death without remembering my late brother.

Is 90 Day Jane real? Follow the links for yourself and see what you think. I just don’t know, right now. I do know that hoax or not, I find the whole thing pretty damned disturbing.

NOTE: I’ve hemmed and hawed about this in the past, and I think I’d really appreciate anyone following Radar links from this blog leaving comments there instead of here. It only takes a moment to register to comment on the site, and Radar really asks for the bare minimum information necessary to let you have a posting account. Comments are always welcome here, but they make more sense when they’re attached to whatever post I’ve had published there.

Poker with a Predator?

I’ve got a new, true-crime related post up at RadarOnline.com. The title of this entry gives you a pretty good idea as to what my “Fresh Intelligence” post is about:

NBC’s Poker After Dark Player’s Child Molesting Past.

The piece above is about Shahram “Shawn” Sheikhan, a pro poker player who was — well, go read the article. I owe a hat-tip to Lost in Lima Ohio for the heads-up on the story.

All I’ll say here about the “Iron Sheik” is this: he could present an opportunity for NBC to produce its ultimate mashup show, pitting Sheikhan against lowlifes from Dateline‘s “To Catch a Predator” series. He could play poker with past “Predator” faves like “Zima-toting buckass nekkid dude in a ball cap” and “wispy-mustached computer geek looking to finally lose it to a hot little Lolita.” As each predator/player entered the room, Chris Hansen would naturally play host, addressing each participant with what has become Hansen’s “Predator” anthem — “Why don’t you have a seat, right over there…”

I’ve also got another Idol post up there… about *yawn* American Idol auditions in *yawn* — Omaha. Yeah. They were that thrilling.

Thursday Notes: American Idol, Drew Peterson, and Corpses

I’ve got a true crime-related post up at RadarOnline.com:

Win a Date with Drew Peterson.

You just can’t make some things up. Drew Peterson, ex-cop and prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife, 24-year-old Stacey Peterson, is easily one of the most macabre clowns to be found in a crime story since his fellow Chicagoland resident John Gacy. And Peterson doesn’t even need the makeup. After the stunt you’ll read about in my Radar piece, Peterson also needs to get a new attorney, because the one he’s got now seems to have a bit of a tin ear for the public perception of this case.

My most recent American Idol post for Radar is here: “American Idol Slips into a Coma.” Click “Recommend It” if you like either post. You have to register to comment on a Radar article, but it only takes a second to do so, and then you can riff on any entry you read there. I suggest really browsing the site, because there’s plenty of good stuff there. For example, a fellow CrimeLibrary.com alum, Seamus McGraw, has a fascinating and creepy featured article that’s certainly worth a read and a recommendation:

Confessions of a Body Snatcher.

I have to admit, I’m enjoying the fact that the magazine is letting me do some blog entries about something other than crime. I’ve been watching Idol since it premiered and have more opinions on the whole phenomenon than I’ll ever really get out there. And yes, it isn’t the heaviest writing I’ll ever do.

Updates and in-depth entries here have been slow in coming because I’m getting plenty to do elsewhere, which is a very good thing. But I’m also learning how manage my time a little better than I have in the past, so the pace of posting in this blog should pick up as Winter moves into Spring.

There are still the Capote Awards, too. I’m up for a couple, but I’d be fine with it if folks voted for my blog here, and not for me, personally. My perspective on these things has changed a great deal in the past 3 years or so — I imagine little polls like the ones Corey Mitchell created for these awards would have been 100 times more important to me in January, 2006. I feel less and less like a lone blogger toiling away lately and more like a writer, and that’s a good thing — because I’m making a living at it, slowly but surely. There are some other good things afoot, but you’ll know more about those when I know more. Just keep checking this space.

I have at least two true crime stories ideal for this blog that I’m watching, but if you have any suggestions, send me an e-mail. Before you do, please be sure to search this weblog and make sure I haven’t already covered the story.

UPDATE

Oh, yeah. Another Idol post for Radar:

American Idol Contestant Questions Show’s Credibility.”

Imagine that.

NOTES, 1/14/08

Yes, the pace of posting is slow, lately. I do have a new, crime-related post up at RadarOnline.com:

Pulp Fiction Co-writer Arrested on DUI, Manslaughter Charges.”

The title tells a lot, but check out the post and recommend it, if you like.

The following True Crime Weblog post has active commentary:

Who is Gary Michael Hilton?” — about the alleged serial killer recently arrested here in North Georgia.

— Check it out if you are interested in the case. I’ve also made a couple of new posts at my personal, infrequently-updated weblog, Random Lunatic News.

Gary Michael Hilton & Michael Scot Louis

Not so fast, AJC. Orlando Sentinel criminal justice reporter Willoughby Mariano has an interesting post up at the paper’s Orlando Homicide Report weblog. It refutes the Atlanta paper’s reporting on attempts to link Gary Michael Hilton with the mutiltation murder of 27-year-old Michael Scot Louis, whose dismembered remains were found in early December in the Tomoka River in Florida. Police in Ormond Beach see “no reason to link Gary Michael Hilton to the Ormond Beach case.”

Also related to Hilton and his possible string of murders throughout the south: “Gary M. Hilton(,) Serial Killer??

The link takes you to a forum at Websleuths.com set aside just to discuss this case and Gary Hilton. If you’re already a member of that forum (I posted in the past as “misterallgood,” and just recently decided to post as “SteveHuff”), you should join in, and if you’re not, look into joining the discussion. Websleuths is one of the more troll-free true crime message boards around.

NOTE, 1/16/08

I’ve got another post up at RadarOnline.com. While this one isn’t crime-related, it did involve a wee bit of websleuthing:

Pranksters Invade American Idol Return.

The Bhutto Assassination

While a political assassination is murder writ large onto the world stage, it seems the wrong sort of murder to cover in this weblog. I’ve always tried to steer this blog clear of things political (with some notable exceptions) and I intend to keep it that way.

I do have a post up on Radars “Fresh Intelligence” about the horrific assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto today in Rawalpindi, PK:

After Bhutto: Pakistani Blogs Chime In.

If you wish you can click “recommend it” at the bottom of any “Fresh Intelligence” post to let others know you liked what you read. There’s plenty of good stuff there to read, most of it not by me. And thank God for the editors of “FI,” who make me look better than I deserve.

If you have friends or loved ones in Pakistan, or friends from that country, send good thoughts or prayers their way. Their country is embroiled in a kind of turmoil modern Americans can’t possibly understand. And since Pakistan is a nuclear power, we must all pay close attention to anything going on in that country.

Alleged Creep of the Week: Isaac Tillis, age 29

(I am on hiatus, really — but an alleged creep of the week who is also a math teacher was just the thing to briefly rouse me from my winter slumber and post the following. Additionally, to read my post about the real “war on Christmas” for Radar’s “Fresh Intelligence,” click here.)

According to police in Florida, Bartow High School math teacher Isaac Nathan Tillis, age 29, has been arrested for suggesting he’d give a 16-year-old student an “A” if she gave him oral sex. Isaac Tillis reportedly even scribbled down what he wanted on a hall pass. Tillis faces charges related to unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

The student asked Tillis how she could improve her grade before the end of the semester. Tillis then allegedly said she could do extra work or “something” for the teacher.

The student caught on, but she played it cool and reported Tillis to the authorities. They set up a sting. So when the student approached her math teacher again the following day about the transaction (at one point, Tillis may have even demonstrated what he wanted with a “motion with his hand toward his mouth”), she was wired and recording everything that happened.

In the end, police say Tillis dropped his pants — in the teachers’ lounge, no less — the student dropped a code word for the listening cops, and Tillis was taken away in cuffs.

Normally the story might end there, with the teacher’s life and career in ruins from the arrest alone, but Isaac Tillis, if the accusations against him are true, elevated himself to creep of the week territory years ago by creating a website while he was a student.

For if Tillis did indeed ask a 16-year-old student to blow him for an “A,” the nature of the following website sets a new gold standard for hypocrisy among creepy guys who want to abuse their authority over young people in order to satisfy deviant sexual needs:

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~itillis/.

Tillis’s site, created while he was attending the University of Central Florida and working at the University library, was titled “Knowledge is Power.”

One link on the main page took you to pages Tillis created about “Education.” Everything found there was what you’d expect from someone planning a career in teaching high school math.

Another link was titled, “Holiness.Elsewhere on the site, Tillis explained the “Holiness” pages, writing:

I have gone through many hardships in my life. Many times, I came up against situations that I knew nothing about, where I felt helpless and confused. I often turn to sin, and deceit instead of God and rightful living. Slowly though, I started to seek God out and sought the word of God to guide me.

That is how this website developed. I wrote down what I discovered through my searches and trials, and put them on the web so that I could access them from anywhere.

Each topic has either directly effected myself or someone else that I know personally. Most of the topics I have studied by talking with others, listening to elders of the church, research, and reading the Word of God. I am not a theologian, or a Biblical scholar. I am a simple person, who has made many mistakes, and who has trespassed against God. I am a sinner condemed unclean….

Isaac Tillis’s “Holiness” pages were divided into a number of topics, including: “Becoming like Christ,” “Prayer,” “Salvation” and “Sin.”

Under the “Sin” heading, Tillis revealed his thoughts on homosexuality:

[The] reason homosexuality has seen so much hostility is that it is associated with lust, fornication, unnatural acts, and rebellion against God. Because homosexual actions and thoughts involves these things, homosexuality is a sin…

He also held forth on lust:

Lust is a very serious and consuming sin. If you are struggling with this sin (or any other sin), please go to God now and pray for His guidance. Lust is a sin that has to be uprooted and totally given over to God. The power to overcome this sin comes from Christ who strengthens us. God gives us the power to completely kill the sinful desires of our heart, and the power to have complete freedom from lust in our lives…

Guess Isaac was still working on that lust issue when he was arrested.

Tillis also had something to say, ironically enough, about hypocrisy:

Hypocrisy is pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have. The Bible defines a hypocrite as anyone who proclaims to be Christ-like and does not live according to His Word.

Let’s just consider the source on that last one.

The Smoking Gun has Isaac Tillis’s arrest report.

This entry will be updated or revised if needed.