Booty calls

Witnesses assert a hooker was involved with many law enforcement officers.

Were other state troopers and Washington State Patrol brass aware one of their own lived with—and allegedly shared the earnings of—a woman frequently arrested for prostitution?

It's a question raised by King County Sheriff's Office investigators, but one the patrol won't answer.

WSP's chief also won't confirm or deny that other troopers may have "dated" the accused $175-an-hour escort service worker, a claim made by two others questioned in the case.

A criminal case is now being weighed by the King County Prosecutor's Office against former trooper Jeremy M. Woods, 29, for allegedly accepting the earnings of his live-in girlfriend, Nicole "Pepper" Prigger, 22.

King County vice detectives thought the twosome's arrangement was "common knowledge" among troopers at the WSP's Bellevue offices, according to court documents. At least two people questioned in the case—a county police officer and a member of the sheriff's Explorer Scout program—also told investigators that other state troopers and police officers from other departments periodically had been involved with the woman.

In court documents, King County detective Marlon Hoyle says troopers freely described Prigger as an exotic dancer with ties to prostitution and revealed that Woods sometimes drove Prigger to her rendezvous with customers.

Detectives also say Woods may have used Prigger's cell phone in his state trooper vehicle and run the name of the thrice-arrested prostitute through the WSP computer to check criminal records and warrants.

But State Patrol Chief Annette Sandberg last week rejected an Open Records request to release any details of the department's internal investigation involving Woods and any other trooper who might have been involved.

In what sounds like the WSP's version of Catch 22, Patrol Captain Brian Ursino said Sandberg thinks such a disclosure "would harm the public's confidence in the department's ability to ensure the highest standard of conduct among its employees."

That confidence could be rattled by the Woods case and by a new trooper-prostitute incident: Spokane detachment Detective Scott Cosner, 30, has been charged with patronizing a prostitute in Spokane, offering her $50 and initially lying about it, Spokane police say. He is on paid administrative leave.

Prigger and live-in beau Woods, a now-resigned Bellevue trooper, were arrested early in 1998 for prostitution and money laundering. Prosecutor's office spokesman Dan Donohoe, who recently said a charging decision would be made in a few weeks, now says it won't be until March of 2000—almost two years after the arrests. "There's still an investigation going on," Donohoe said last week. Neither Prigger nor Woods could be contacted through phone messages left on a recorder.

A King County criminal probe and internal investigation into the case turned up detailed accusations of a trooper-hooker personal and financial relationship. Detective Mike Garske says he and other vice investigators discovered the twosome shared a $178,000 home they bought together in Bonney Lake and witnessed an apparent exchange of money between Prigger and Woods after tailing her from a sex session in Kirkland (see "In the line of booty," 11/25).

The two bought the home two years ago with a $35,000 down payment, according to court documents. Prigger also had more than $52,000 in charges on her credit card, and the $40,000-a-year trooper had made large, mostly cash deposits in his bank account totaling over $50,000. Detectives say the income and spending fueled their belief the trooper was laundering prostitution money.

However, the WSP's internal probe of Woods' alleged misconduct resulted in a determination of "unfounded"—although the two-year trooper resigned anyway.

Chief Sandberg would not comment when asked about involvement by other troopers with Prigger. Captain Glenn Cramer of WSP's Office of Government and Media Relations in Olympia says he would "question the accuracy" of assertions the patrol was aware of the relationship and that other troopers were involved with Prigger.

A county police officer with direct knowledge of events and who also spoke with King County investigators about the case claims "there was a huge cover-up" in the Woods case by the state patrol. The officer says Prigger also dated other law enforcement officers from around the region.

Statements made by and attributed to Prigger support that claim. Documents show she told detectives she was having sexual relationships with several King County deputies as well as a young member of the KCSO's Explorer Scout program. (The Explorers are volunteers who are trained in search, rescue, and police methods by the Sheriff's department in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America.) Several KC deputies were questioned but not charged, although the scout was drummed out of the program for giving Prigger privileged department information.

The scout, according to a copy of his interview with KC vice detectives, says Prigger told him "there was a couple of Snohomish County [sheriff's] guys . . . [plus an] Everett PD officer she dated. And then a couple state troopers."

Prigger told him, the scout added, "that almost every guy she's ever dated was a cop."

Documents outlining the King County investigation show Prigger once tried to become a member of the WSP's Explorer program—to assist officers and occasionally ride on patrol with them—but was rejected.

Her scout friend says Prigger told him she "danced" for customers at $400 a shot, yet still dreamed of someday becoming a police officer herself.

"She told me she wanted to be a police officer . . . [but] after she got arrested, I was like, hey, there's something going on here, you know?"

"In my mind," said the young scout, "I was like, there's no way you're ever gonna be a police officer!"

Read the original article:

In the line of booty

The hooker, the state trooper, and the Boy Scout.

by Rick Anderson, published November 25, 1999

 
comments powered by Disqus