'D.C. Madam' Reportedly Commits Suicide in Florida

Tod Hunter
TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Convicted "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found dead at her mother's home in a trailer park in the Tampa, Fla. area, an apparent suicide.

Palfrey, 52, was found in a small storage shed located outside the mobile home. She reportedly left a suicide note, but police did not disclose its contents. Investigators say that at this time, foul play does not appear to be involved.

"It was her, and she's deceased," said Frank Ruggiero, a public information officer with the Tarpon Springs Police Department. "There's no question that it was a suicide."

Ruggiero said police arrived at the scene at 10:52 a.m. Thursday, and Palfrey was pronounced dead a short while later. He declined to say how she killed herself or provide any details.

Palfrey was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of racketeering and money laundering charges related to her running a prostitution service that catered to members of Washington's political elite, including Sen. David Vitter, R-La., whose involvement was revealed by Hustler founder Larry Flynt at a press conference last September.

Palfrey had claimed her escort service did not engage in prostitution, saying that if any of the women engaged in sex acts for money, they did so without her knowledge. She also had threatened to reveal the names of her clients — many believed to be high-profile political and business figures — if prosecutors went forward with their case.

Pinellas County Medical Examiners will determine the official cause of death, and are working with the FBI on the case.