A private detective was arrested for allegedly helping orchestrate an elaborate plot to stop a woman from testifying in a sexual abuse case. The Brooklyn D.A.'s office says that Vincent Parco, who once had a Court TV show called Parco P.I., entrapped the accuser's relative with a prostitute and then tried to blackmail the relative with surveillance images of the encounter, threatening to expose them if the accuser went ahead with the case.
Parco was charged with unlawful surveillance, promoting prostitution, dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image, tampering with a witness, and second-degree criminal contempt, as was his associate, Tanya Freudenthaler, and his client, Samuel Israel.
In 2016, Israel was indicted for sexually abusing a girl when she was a 12-year-old. He was released on $100,000 bail and later rejected a plea offer of five years of prison and 10 years of post-prison supervision.
According to the Brooklyn D.A.'s office:
In July 2016, according to the investigation, Israel hired Vincent Parco, who owns a private investigative firm, to surreptitiously record embarrassing video images of a family member of the victim to allegedly get the victim to stop cooperating against Israel. He was allegedly paid approximately $17,000.
It is alleged that on December 17, 2016, Tanya Freudenthaler, after being enlisted by Parco, lured the family member to a hotel room in Sunset Park, where she and Parco had installed video recording equipment. She allegedly also hired a prostitute, who she recorded having sex with the family member. The equipment malfunctioned, so Freudenthaler allegedly set up another encounter two days later, on December 19, 2016.
Freudenthaler hired the same prostitute for the second encounter, as well as a second prostitute. The family member was secretly recorded with both women.
In January of this year, Israel once again rejected the plea offer, and almost two weeks later, prosecutors say the relative who was filmed was once again shown footage of the hotel encounter by a stranger and told, "Be smart. Stop making trouble." This incident prompted the relative to go to the authorities.
In June, another relative was approached with the footage. Then, the relative in the hotel encounter was contacted by a third person who "allegedly offered to act as a mediator, offering to obtain the video from Israel and destroy it and to obtain a statement from Israel admitting to his crimes as 'insurance' in the event the video gets released but he cautioned the family member not to report any of this to the authorities," according to the Brooklyn D.A.'s office.
When investigators went to Parco's office, they say they found copies of the video. A prosecutor said on Tuesday, "[Parco] told investigators he’s done this many times before — that is, has a woman meet somebody, videotapes them having sex, and that video is used to discredit them in court."
Using prostitutes to get witnesses to flip is nothing new: Charles Kushner, father of White House adviser Jared Kushner, was being investigated for tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions when he had a prostitute seduce his brother-in-law and filmed it, in order to convince his brother-in-law and sister to stop cooperating with the federal authorities. Kushner served 14 months in prison.
Parco denied the charges, saying he was innocent. He was once linked to "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina, saying he was just consulting on her dating website. In 1989, Parco also sold a gun to a woman, Carolyn Warmus, who then used it to kill her lover's wife.
His lawyer, Peter Gleason, said, "Mr. Parco is the premier investigator in New York, and through this unfortunate circumstance, this just shows how he goes above and beyond for his clients"
Parco, Freudenthaler and Israel all pleaded not guilty. Acting D.A. Eric Gonzalez said, "These defendants allegedly engaged in an illicit and disturbing scheme in an attempt to obstruct justice. They have now been exposed and I intend to hold them accountable. I would also like to commend the victim and her family for their courage in resisting the alleged extortion and reporting it to my office."