In 2003, Jeanette Maier was indicted by federal prosecutors along with eleven other women for operating a brothel on Canal Street here in New Orleans. The story made national news and although Maier produced a list of clients not a single man was indicted for their solicitation of the brothel's employees. In fact, Jeanette's notorious client list was sealed by Federal Judge Ivan Lemelle.
While the client list remains sealed, Jeanette has since spoken about some of her more prestigious clients including now candidate for Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, and candidate for Governor, Sen. David Vitter.
Maier suggested multiple times that Vitter was a "client" but it was unclear if he actually visited the Canal Street Brothel since she also admitted his name was not on her client list. I've always wanted to clarify what she meant by these admissions and I got the opportunity to interview her on camera this week.
The first question I asked, "Exactly how did you service David Vitter?":
Jeanette mentioned Michelle, one of the escorts who allegedly had sex with David Vitter at the house party on St. Charles Avenue. Michelle supposedly committed suicide on a boat that was docked in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The woman's full name was Michelle Mosgrove, she was 28 when she died.
Her death took place on August 7, 1997.
Article from Sun Herald, August 1997
The suicide occurred on a boat owned by a man (now deceased) named William Andre Droulia. The tragedy occurred in a boat slip (the boat was docked) at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. The investigation was handled by the Biloxi Police Department:
The public records request for the police report only produced the front page of the report and the name of the boat owner was redacted. However, I have established Droulia was the owner of "AERA" through a former captain of the 74' Willard vessel...Captain Ron Canatlano piloted the boat in the early nineties previous to the 1997 suicide event. Note that the police report says there are four successive "narrative" pages...these pages weren't provided in the public records request.
I've spoken with several people who knew Michelle (they wish to remain unnamed in this story) and worked in the "industry". All were skeptical of the suicide claim including Wendy Ellis and Jeanette, who elaborates on the matter in this byte:
Jeanette mentioned that there were three women at the party on St. Charles Street, which Maier says occured in 1996, one year before Michelle's suicide. Jeanette said two of the women had sexual interaction with David Vitter...one being Michelle and she declined to identify the second. The third woman was named "Zoey".
I have tried desperately, for months, to identify Zoey (stage name) by her real name and confirm the story with her as a firsthand source. I've been unsuccessful in that quest but I believe her real first name may have been Casey and she spent a lot of time around Bourbon Street in the mid-90's. One source thought she may have moved to California...regardless I have not been able to establish her last name.
After researching this story for the past five years, I've come to realize just how dangerous this lifestyle is for these women. Jeannette told me of being raped and manipulated by police officers early in her life and in this byte she points out how prostitutes are immediately dismissed as credible sources:
Perhaps this prosecution of women vis-a-vis the protection of "johns" speaks to an underlying misogyny in our national culture or perhaps it's a localized phenomenon in Louisiana politics but the trend seems to be repeated every time a sex scandal comes to light in our state.
I would ask you to please listen to what Jeanette has said in this final byte and consider the price these women, like Michelle, have paid for being involved with powerful political figures.
The following two interviews were conducted yesterday, October 20, 2015, in my house. I've tried desperately to get both of these subjects to speak with me on camera for months and after Wendy Ellis came forward this week, they finally agreed. They both wanted to share what they knew about Wendy Ellis and her purported relationship with Senator David Vitter.
The first interview is with a woman we will call "Vanna" who was good friends with Wendy since the early 90's all the way up to the present. She agreed to speak with me only if her identity was concealed and her voice was altered. She is concerned about how it would affect her job, her family and fears the possible acts of retribution against her. I do know Vanna's actual identity as does an unnamed "legacy" media reporter that I invited to attend the interview session.
(Note: I am not suggesting the other media entity has endorsed this story in any way, I simply wanted Vanna to be accessible to this entity if they wished to pursue the story any further as I know my own credibility as a journalist will be called into question.)
In this first byte, Vanna describes how she first met Wendy:
I have confirmed through property records that there was an escort service, New Orleans Escorts & Erotic Massage, being operated at 905 Dumaine, circa. 1997/98.
The name associated with the escort service is a J B Houston. I believe this to be the Jonathan that both Wendy and Vanna have spoken about. I also believe the phone number, (504) 581-7567, was the main number for the service. I have not been able to locate Jonathan but I believe he may be living in Florida.
If you remember in the previous interview with Wendy Ellis, she stated that the first time Sen. Vitter called the service the caller I.D. came up as "Louisiana Legislature......". I'm not sure if that would have been from Vitter's legislative office in Metairie or from a phone in the Capital. I was going to file a public records request for his phone records from 1997/98 but those records are only archived for a ten year period.
Remember, phone records are how Vitter was traced back to the D.C. Madame scandal.
Wendy claimed that she eventually moved across the street to 904/906 Dumaine into a "safe house". Vanna said she visited Wendy at this location:
Vanna was correct about where Wendy is receiving treatment (I did not previously disclose this information to her). When I conducted the interview on October 13, I met Ellis at a clinic in Texas where she was receiving medical treatment.
I asked Vanna if she had read my previous post about Wendy or watched the videos, she said no and that she had no idea what my blog was.
The next interview I conducted was with Jeanette Maier, better known as The Canal Street Madame. The reason I wanted to talk with Jeanette was to explain some comments she made on Jeff Croure's show about "David Vitter being a client" of hers back in the 90's.
Also, Jeanette has been in contact with Wendy Ellis, even before I interviewed Wendy. In fact, Jeanette encouraged Wendy to come forward with the rest of her story. I asked Jeanette about her relationship with Wendy and what she knew about that late 90's period:
The problem with stories such as this is the collateral damage it can cause to the people who come forward. I realize concealing Vanna's identity has the appearance of melodrama but I take all of these folks' safety as seriously as I can. Vanna is accessible to the legacy journalism entity I mentioned previously.
Jeannette has already suffered the damage and fallout from the Canal Street brothel scandal so she is more fearless than others. Curiously her client list was sealed by a federal judge, so the johns, some of them politicians, never suffered a day and one (other than Vitter) is even up for a statewide seat this election cycle.
To clarify, David Vitter was not on the infamous list of Jeanette's clients that was entered into the legal record and sealed by the federal judge...but Jeanette was running an escort service long before she opened the brothel on Canal Street. We will be addressing this story in length.
In the next post, Jeanette will talk about the price she and other women have paid in what she coined "politricking" scandals but more importantly, we will examine an entirely different prostitution story about Senator David Vitter that I've been working on the past several months.
Also, I hope to provide some medical records that legitimize Wendy Ellis's pregnancy at the period she specified and I now have Wendy's entire legal records from Arkansas that shed light on the story WDSU published.
I asked the WDSU reporter how he obtained that letter and why they didn't initially publish the entire thing (see previous post). I also asked him if he had researched the legal records himself or if it was handed to him by Vitter's campaign or lawyers.
I did not get an answer to my inquiries.
Stay tuned...hope to have the next post by tomorrow or Friday.
The following interview segments are with former prostitute, Wendy Ellis, also known as Wendy Cortez in original stories that surfaced from Hustler magazine back in 2007. Ellis originally came forward with allegations that she had serviced Vitter here in New Orleans during the height of the prostitution scandal involving the D.C. madame, Debra Jean Palfrey.
After speaking with Ellis, she told me that the Hustler interview was not totally accurate and not only did they publish a small portion of the story, some of the facts were misconstrued.
Upon meeting her, she informed me that she was terminally ill with an advanced form of lupus. She agreed to let me interview her because she wanted to "set the record straight" in the time she has left.
The interview lasted about an hour. This first segment details how she first came into contact with David Vitter and how their relationship developed, one she said lasted for about three years from around 1998 through 2000:
I asked her to further detail her alleged relationship with Vitter. In the time frame Ellis says she carried on a relationship with Vitter, 1998 to 2000, he was originally in the Louisiana House of Representatives where he served from 1992 to 1999. In 1999 he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Louisiana’s 1st Congressional district: Wendy Ellis on Relationship Development MASTER from Jason Berry on Vimeo.
In respect to the ring that she claimed was given to her by Vitter, she said she thought he gave his wife the exact same ring. This is a picture of it:
Of course the obvious question is why she is coming forward with this story now. Aside from her failing health, speaking with her off camera, she explained to me that she was under an exclusivity contract with Hustler up until a few months ago. Originally Hustler was considering doing a follow up story with her during this campaign cycle but she told me they suddenly changed their mind and terminated their relationship with her. She said she was told by an employee at Hustler that Larry Flynt had no interest in generating negative press about Vitter any longer:
I have talked to numerous sources who contradict the Senator's original claim that he never solicited prostitutes in the state of Louisiana but so far Wendy Ellis is the first person who was willing to go on the record about it. I believe there will be more information I can publish in the coming weeks.
It is very important to her, and very important to me, that the identity of the child remain anonymous and I realize that it would be the one foolproof way to corroborate her story but I believe it can be corroborated by other means than putting the child's well being at risk. I do know more about the adoption and I personally believe the information she provided in this interview to be true.
I had contact with David Vitter's legal counsel and repeatedly requested an interview with him on the phone to address the story but his lawyer stated he was too busy to speak with me.
This post, forgive the overused adage, really is the tip of the iceberg. I have much more information I will share in the near future, from this interview and hopefully others, as I obtain it. Stay Tuned.
UPDATE: In this WDSU article it states "..the claim of three-year relationship is contradicted by legal documents that show Ellis was incarcerated for at least some of that time -- including part of 2001 and 2002."
Aside from "at least some time" being a very ambiguous statement, that does not "contradict the claim of a three-year relationship". In fact, Ellis told me about the 2001/2002 incarceration in the interview:
I know I've been absent for a while here on AZ but I have good reason. Fact is, I've been diligently chasing down a story I originally started working on five years ago. This week, my odyssey has finally led me to a story I feel confident in publishing.
Since 2010, I’ve researched accusations levied against Senator David Vitter that he solicited prostitutes here in Louisiana. He categorically denied the allegation in his press conference on July 16, 2007, stating "...like those New Orleans stories in recent reporting... those stories are NOT TRUE" . One the main reasons the story interests me is not just the hyprocrisy but Vitter’s relationship with the Louisiana Family Forum, a very powerful state lobbying organization that promotes a “family values” religious agenda. In fact, the President of the LFF, Gene Mills, absolved Vitter of his alleged sins during the 2007 scandal, claiming the Senator had repented and "sought forgiveness, reconciliation and counseling". Shortly after that, Vitter earmarked $100,000 in a federal spending bill to the LFF but that earmark eventually failed to make it through.
The truth is, Senator Vitter has not reconciled anything because he never really admitted to anything specifc. My goal was to find out exactly what Mr. Vitter was alluding to when he said he had committed serious sins in his 2007 press conference.
Most of the leads I chased for the past five years proved fruitless. The most prevalent involved a prostitute named "London Rayne" who I made contact with back in 2010. The rumor was that Vitter had not only solicited London Rayne but sired a child by her. At the time she denied the allegations to me and still does to this day. I've stayed in contact with her the entire time.
There was another story published by the New York Daily News associating a woman named Paula Neeble with David Vitter during the D.C. Madame scandal. That particular post has since been removed but I spoke with Neeble on the phone about three months ago and she, too, denied any contact with the Senator, claiming the New York Daily News story was bogus and that she never met the man.
A third story that surfaced on Gawker revolved around a young Louisiana woman who had exchanged tweets with someone on the Senator's Twitter site. The story speculated that the young woman may have been flirting with Vitter himself. Recently, this young woman also denied any contact with David Vitter.
I don't like listing these women's names because their lives are dramatically affected by the media exposure. In the case of Neeble, I don't mind mentioning her name as she was forced to change it due to the fallout from the New York Daily News stories.
I find it funny that in these scandals usually it's only the women who suffer while the male politicians are able to endure. Perhaps that says something about our society.
About two months ago I was ready to write a post that dismissed all of these rumors and be done with the whole thing.
Then...a new lead came up.
That single lead led me down a rabbit hole of information I am still trying to unravel. It's been a hell of a roller coaster ride but this week I was able to find a source that agreed to go on the record with me. I conducted a video interview with her on October 13th, 2015.
I am publishing the interview today but I wanted to add a little background. I give you "Wendy"....