Feds Bust Doctor for . . . Meeting Women on the Internet

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Last June, I put up a post about a Mississippi cardiologist named Roger Weiner. Weiner moved to the Mississippi Delta town of Clarksdale from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1999. I had contacted Weiner because he was involved in a protracted court battle with controversial Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne. You can read about that battle at the link above.

Weiner is an outspoken guy. He not only gave me an on the record interview about Hayne and what he, Weiner, perceived to be Mississippi’s corrupt medical investigation system, he has also spoken out against the HMOs he says he came to the state to get away from. He was so disturbed by his experience with Hayne that he successfully ran for Coahoma County Supervisor. He also told me that though he’d never previously touched a gun in his life, after he was elected he felt compelled to keep a shotgun in his home, dryly explaining that, “Not everyone down here is happy about an East Coast Jew getting elected to county office.”

In May of this year, Weiner was arrested by five FBI agents at the improbably named Shady Nook gas station. The charge? Violating the federal Mann Act—a century-old law banning the transport of women across state lines for “immoral purposes.” Specifically, federal agents had posed as prostitutes on a chat room for a Memphis-based website called sugardaddyforme.com, a site aimed at pairing older wealthy men with young women.

The FBI claims Weiner agreed to pay agents posing as escorts to make the 80-mile trip from Memphis to Clarksdale to have sex with him. My sources in Mississippi told me at the time that unofficial word from the U.S. Attorney’s office was that more serious charges against Weiner were imminent. The implication was that he’d be indicted for child pornography, or soliciting sex a minor. But as weeks went by, those charges never came. All the women, or fake women, Weiner is accused of soliciting were of age (one agent posted as a 31-year-old).

Now the solicitation charges themselves are looking pretty weak, too. U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers recently threatened to toss the entire case against Weiner unless U.S. attorneys turned over the cell phone records they had been keeping from Weiner’s defense. As it turns out, there was a pretty good reason why the feds were keeping those records to themselves. It came out yesterday at Weiner’s hearing. The Mississippi blog NMissCommentor was there:

What happened here was that the F.B.I. had a “tip” that Dr. Weiner was somehow involved in child pornography on the site sugardaddy.com.  So they checked it out and discovered, nope, no child pornography there.  Case closed?  Nope, the F.B.I. then decided to run in some fake “sugarbabies”– agents masquerading as escorts– to try to lure Weiner into agreeing to meet them.  Some of the time, one of the agents playing “escort” was a guy!

Just to be clear:  Dr. Weiner never met one of these “women.”  Dr. Weiner never paid one of these “women” a dime.  Dr. Weiner even told the first would be escort,  Ginger (well, the agent or agents masquerading as Ginger), that there was “a difference between a sugar baby and a hooker, and I’m not interested in a hooker.”

According to a motion Weiner’s lawyer filed in federal court, federal prosecutors left this information out of the affidavit they filed to get a search warrant for Weiner’s home. The motion says “the Government knew when it applied for the search warrant that the defendant had already informed the Government agent that he was not interested in a hooker, wanted noting to do with a hooker, and the Government agent assured him that she was not a hooker.” If you’re going to arrest a man for soliciting prostitutes, it seems like it would be pretty important to include in your affidavit the fact that he specifically told an undercover agent he wasn’t interested in a prostitute. Of course, you’d then have no pretext to search his home for the really juicy stuff.

Back to the NMissCommentor:

This led the F.B.I. to run in a second fake sugar baby, Mary.  And, because masquerading Mary was in Mississippi during all the conversations with Dr. Weiner, there was no chance of her crossing a state line, the very essence of a Mann Act violation!  (The U.S. Attorney argues that, well, he meant for her to cross a state line, because she said she was in Memphis)…

…it gets even weirder.  Mary emailed the doctor that she was in Memphis on business, and would like to come down to see him.  He said nope, I’m on call and too busy.  She then asked how’s about tomorrow lunch.  He said don’t bother to come all the way just for me.  She then ventured– oh, I’ve got to drive back home from Memphis to Mobile, and can just pass through Clarksdale en route.  He said well all right, she got off the phone, and some brighter prosecution-side type thought–

wait a minute, if she’s “going to drive home” and that’s why she’s “crossing state lines,” where’s the Mann Act violation!?

So she calls back to suggest, er, um, I’m not really going to Mobile at all, just coming to see you.  Shortly thereafter, five F.B.I. agents arrested Dr. Weiner at the Shady Nook north of Clarksdale.

Let me stress here that I have no evidence that the feds’ pursuit of Dr. Weiner is in any way related to his outspoken criticism of Steven Hayne and Mississippi’s death investigation system. But it sure seems like someone had a reason to . . . well, I’ll just defer to Judge Biggers, here:

Judge Biggers asked some pointed questions:  Why are they prosecuting him?   Judge Biggers also said, “Something is going on here that is not on the surface that they would bring in 3 government agents in contact with him over and over again.  When he didn’t express interest, they bring in another one.  Something is going on that is not evident.  Perhaps [U.S. Attorney] Mr. Roberts can explain it.”

Other comments from the bench:  “You’ve come a long way from the purpose of this statute in the bringing of this charge.”  “It took five F.B.I. agents…to arrest him?” (This drew a response from the prosecutor hemming and hawing about not being able to assume things just because the arrest involves a doctor and not second guessing the agents about safety).  And:  “This case seems like overload.”

It sure does. Let’s assume for a second that the feds’ pursuit of Weiner has nothing to do with his criticism of Hayne, the Coahoma County coroner, the medical establishment in Mississippi, or that it has any political motivation whatsoever. Let’s just look at it as a question of priorities. Because that’s troubling enough. Hayne and Michael West have been corrupting Mississippi’s justice system for 20 years, with little attention from the federal government. Yet the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office have time to devote three agents and a team of prosecutors to invoke a century-old law against sex slavery to entrap a man who was using an Internet dating site to meet women.

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41 Responses to “Feds Bust Doctor for . . . Meeting Women on the Internet”

  1. #1 |  Sallie | 

    Sometimes I think there’s too much government, you know?

  2. #2 |  Eric | 

    This story is amazing; thanks for the write-up, Radley.

    It is encouraging that the federal judge is so skeptical and outspoken to the prosecution.

  3. #3 |  Mister DNA | 

    Pardon me if this comes off as sexist or misogynistic, but has the Mann Act ever been used to protect women? From what I can see, it’s historically been used to punish “uppity” people (Jack Johnson, Chuck Berry, etc).

  4. #4 |  Pablo | 

    What a complete waste of money. I’m sick of hearing of LEO’s lying, impersonating others, entrapping others online, wearing ski masks, etc.

    If a real crime with a real victim has occurred there is no need to lie to others, pretend to be someone you’re not, entrap someone, or cover up your face in order to enforce the law.

  5. #5 |  Zargon | 

    Just goes to show, if they want to ruin your life, they can, and they will. Sure, it looks like he’ll escape relatively unscathed… this time. Just an arrest by 5 FBI agents, a full day in a cage, and the inconvenience and humiliation of a trail dragging out his personal life.

    But everybody involved knows what this is really about, and the writing is on the wall. He’ll either need to back down, or get crushed in the maw.

  6. #6 |  Dennis H. | 

    Mr. DNA,

    This comes to mind:

    http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/757790.html

    A former Western New York trial judge was sentenced to prison for his role in transporting prostitutes across state lines for a Shriners function. The women in question were non-English speaking East Asian illegal immigrants associated with Niagara Falls massage parlors. While I’m in favor of legalizing consensual sex for pay, I’m given to understand that the immigrant women associated with the Niagara Falls sex trade are often held under conditions of exactly the sort that the Mann Act was ostensibly designed to combat.

    It’s an imperfect tool, but it appears that the FBI does, at least sometimes, attempt to use it to combat sex slavery.

  7. #7 |  Chris C. | 

    In response to Dennis H.,

    Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn.

    The Fibbies almost certainly had an underlying agenda in this case. It is, however, speculation at this point as to what that might be. Any of the items mentioned by Radley, or some combination thereof, could be the genesis of this Keystone Kops adventure. At least they didn’t kill him, like the Fairfax County optometrist (also covered by the esteemed Mr. Balko):
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=5439

    The message is becoming ominous. The various LEO groups are tasked with keeping us peasants in our place, extracting whatever money is left to us after taxes, and conditioning us to obey them no matter how absurd or even illegal their orders might be.

  8. #8 |  Mister DNA | 

    Dennis,

    Thanks for that. Everything I’ve read about the sex slave trade in the US claims that the feds and the state department are well aware of the problem (and even when all the hyperbole is removed, it’s definitely a huge problem) but they “don’t have the resources” to do anything about it. But then I read about Dr. Weiner and I have to scratch my head.

    I guess when Tommy Chong is out there selling bongs on the internet, the feds have to prioritize.

  9. #9 |  Marty | 

    ‘Let me stress here that I have no evidence that the feds’ pursuit of Dr. Weiner is in any way related to his outspoken criticism of Steven Hayne and Mississippi’s death investigation system.’

    Chuck Berry had no proof that he was convicted of violating the mann act because he was ‘an uppity nigger’, either.

    You’re all guilty- they’ll get to you in order based on the priorities in front of them…

  10. #10 |  nemo | 

    Chris C, that only works for as long as

    A) the illusion of national fiscal solvency the Fed wants to maintain finally crumbles under the weight of the economic reality;

    and

    B) when everyone realizes that the game is over, governments at all levels are broke, and can’t provide ‘services’ such as police intimidation on behalf of society’s ‘stakeholders’ to keep the Great Unwashed toeing the line.

    Then the fun begins. And the police will be no better off than their former paymasters. They’ll be just like the many of the ones in NOLA were during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath; heading home to protect their own families in the face of anarchy.

    I sincerely hope that nothing like that happens, but the precedent has already been set. The past could truly become prologue.

  11. #11 |  Judi | 

    Well now MY visit to the office of the F.B.I. in Mississippi makes perfect sense.

    When I told them about Hayne/West and provided PROOF of my claims, they seemed disinterested that Hayne had violated numerous laws including perjury and bringing corpses over state lines to perpetrate his crimes (Refer to the Jimmie Duncan case in Louisiana) like creating false evidence on a body, etc.

    I guess sending innocent people to prison and death row (which is murder in itself) by an unqualified, unethical, money-hungry, conspiring asshole like Hayne isn’t as important as some old fellow wanting a little company from an adult of the opposite sex.

    Guess Hayne has a lot fo people in his big fat pocket.

    But of course…ahem…we cannot say for sure that Hayne had anything to do with Dr. Weiner’s dilemma.

    All I can say is where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    If they won’t do something, I will.

    I am planning a march/rally in Jackson Mississippi between January and April 2010. (Date pending) The House of Reps will be in session.

    I also have a petition online…so HELP me by signing!

    http://www.gopetition.com/online/25939.html

  12. #12 |  Mister DNA | 

    Judi,

    By all means keep us posted on the march/rally.

  13. #13 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    This brings up a rule of thumb that appeals to me more and more as time goes by: Whenever a government actor’s actions don’t make sense, we should *presume* corruption.

  14. #14 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    As a former federal prosecutor who handled sexual exploitation crimes (and worked in the section with oversight of the Act), I agree with the judge’s comments 100%.

    These days, the Mann Act is typically used in cases of genuine sexual exploitation. Most commonly, these cases involve victims who are at a disadvantage in their relationship with the defendant – e.g., illegal immigrants who fear reporting their exploitation to the police, minors, etc. Examples can be found described here and here.

    Even if the evidence supported a garden-variety solicitation, the use of the Mann Act for such a case would be a waste of resources.

    The description of the evidence and of the handling of the search warrant raises very serious questions, independent of the Mann Act.

  15. #15 |  “They shot him. Right there in court.” « Quotulatiousness | 

    [...] Bonus story from Radley’s site, Feds bust doctor for meeting women on the internet. Amazing . . . just amazing. Comments [...]

  16. #16 |  BamBam | 

    #6,

    While I’m in favor of legalizing consensual sex for pay,

    This implies that paying for sex is illegal (which it is), and thus needs to be made legal because you disagree with it being illegal. Did you mean to say “there shouldn’t even be a law to make it legal because there’s nothing illegal about paying for sex”? The law making it illegal should be struck from the books, and thus taking this issue to the state where is belongs – none of government’s business.

  17. #17 |  craig | 

    I like god do not play with dice, and do not believe in coincidences. -V

    Someone is trying to do someone else a favor here and got caught.

  18. #18 |  Dave Krueger | 

    You guys have this shit all backwards. You apparently think that arrests are made in response to someone breaking the law, whereas the reality is that laws are really just a tool to facilitate persecution that would otherwise be illegal. There are too many people exempt from the law to think that laws are a mechanism for uniformly dispensing justice.

    If I were a woman, I would be outraged at the Mann Act. It assumes that women are so easily manipulated by men that they need special laws to protect them. It’s nothing less than a state sanctioned attitude that men are superior to women.

    I could go on and on about how prostitution is yet another facet of America’s hysteria and irrationality about all things sex related. I could also go on and on about how prostitution laws discriminate against a woman’s right to control and use her own body and earn a living no different than an athlete or physicist. I could even mention that prostitution laws constitute a cruel form of persecution of people who would rarely (if ever) get the opportunity to experience the pleasures of sex without the services of a prostitute, including those who are physically deformed, maimed, mentally challenged, home bound, crippled, or just plain anti-social and astoundingly ugly (such as myself). Luckily for you, I’m going to be charitable and not bring up any of those things.

    As you might guess, I pretty much despise anyone who supports laws that broadly dictate when people are permitted to have sex and under what circumstances. I especially hold them in low regard when they also hypocritically claim to be compassionate toward the less fortunate or profess love toward their fellow man. So, if you’re a liberal and support prostitution laws, then you clearly don’t have the moral standing of pond scum. If you believe in the golden rule and support prostitution laws, then you are an order of magnitude less deserving of society’s respect than prostitutes you persecute. And finally, if you’re a Sean Hannity conservative and support prostitution laws… well, you’re probably just doing what comes natural.

  19. #19 |  Oatwhore | 

    Biggers? Wiener? Sure this isn’t a John Waters movie?

  20. #20 |  Judi | 

    Dave, I’ve never thought of th Mann act that way. But since you’ve pointed that out, I am pissed…lol.

    I’m not a propronent of prostitution but it beats RAPE any day. I could care less what a woman or man for that matter chooses to do with their body…or where they take their body to do it.

    Mississippi is said to be a ‘poor state’ yet they throw away money on crap like this.

    God, I need a Tylenol…make that a Xanax….maybe both.

  21. #21 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Feds Bust Doctor for . . . Meeting … | Learn how to Get Women | 

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  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #19 Judi

    I’m not a propronent of prostitution but it beats RAPE any day.

    I don’t understand what you mean. Prostitution isn’t an alternative to rape. Prostitution is merely a voluntary agreement between two people to trade sex for something they consider to be of equal value. Rape is an assault using violence or the threat of violence.

  23. #23 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Jeez, Dave, simmer down.

    As someone you “despise,” may I suggest that you consider the examples I offered. Actually, I do think that minors and non-English speakers smuggled into the US under false pretenses are sometimes “easily manipulated” (although not just by men – see the second example I link to, above) and need protection.

    Since you apparently aren’t a close reader, you may not have noticed that my comment that the use of the Mann Act in garden-variety solicitation cases is unwarranted.

  24. #24 |  Aspasia | 

    MisterDNA: “Everything I’ve read about the sex slave trade in the US claims that the feds and the state department are well aware of the problem (and even when all the hyperbole is removed, it’s definitely a huge problem) but they “don’t have the resources” to do anything about it.”

    The State Department/Feds “don’t have the resources” because they use those resources to prosecute women like, say, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Or prosecuting other random escorts and prostitutes. They also use said resources to decide whether or not certain types of legal, adult porn is “appropriate” for American consumption. It’s much easier to go after people who aren’t actually dangerous, than traffickers who often have firepower (and more political power than people realize) to back them up.

    @BamBam: You’re 100% correct. That’s why us sex worker rights activists support decriminalization, which is very different from legalization. For those wondering how we define the difference: http://www.bayswan.org/defining.html

    Anyway, I laughed at this: ““a difference between a sugar baby and a hooker, and I’m not interested in a hooker.””

    I have a former-pro friend who was looking into being a sugar baby. After talking to many men on that site she realized most wanted a silly, naive, ignorant woman-child. Not that pros can’t be silly, naive or ignorant but most I’ve met aren’t.

  25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #21 | Ben (the other one)

    Since you apparently aren’t a close reader…

    You’re correct. In fact, I hadn’t even read your comment at all before offering my own.

    In any case, my comment addressed the Mann Act and prostitution separately although they are certainly related.

    I think the Mann Act has a substantial history of being used as a means to target people who were never intended to be covered by the Act, but the critical point is that it declares a women to be an automatic victim regardless of whether she was a willing participant, which is another way of saying she’s not competent to decide for herself whether she’s a victim.

    As for your comment about exploitation, please note that one of the most common arguments in support of laws banning prostitution is that it exploits women, which is just another way of saying that a woman could not possibly choose to do it voluntarily and therefore must be restrained for their own good.

    In any case, assuming that there are women (including immigrants, minors, and anyone else you care to name) who are exploited by men, there is no rational argument that justifies completely outlawing prostitution anymore that it’s legitimate to outlaw drinking because some might become an alcoholic.

    If, indeed, Weiner did contract to bring a woman into Mississippi to exchange sex for money, the fact that he could be prosecuted under the Mann Act at all is all I need to condemn it, regardless of the good intentions all the law enforcement and legislative bodies to solve a legitimate problem (to the extent that there was or is a legitimate problem to be solved to begin with).

    If a law meant to target exploitation is used instead to create criminals out of people who haven’t exploited anyone, then all the examples in the world don’t justify that law.

  26. #26 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Let’s just look at it as a question of priorities.” — RB

    The government doesn’t have priorities, per se. Certainly none that account for anyone out of the “family.”

    Just because there are unsolved murders, that doesn’t mean they’ll stop writing traffic tickets.

    The government is populated with trough feeders, each one looking out for his/her interests first.

    The idea that government could be anything other than self-interested and perfectly wasteful is ludicrous.

    Whatever you think of Reagan, he did say, “Government is a baby — a voracious appetite on one end and no responsibility on the other.” And it never grows up.

  27. #27 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #23 | Dave Krueger

    Damn Dave, good one!

    You may not have meant it that way, but this — “You’re correct. In fact, I hadn’t even read your comment at all before offering my own.” — reminded me of The Fountainhead:

    Toohey: “Roark, what do you think of me?”

    Roark: “I don’t think of you.”

  28. #28 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Butler Shaffer says it better than I ever could:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer197.html

  29. #29 |  scott | 

    What kind of dirt do you suppose Hayne has on the folks who hold the reigns in Mississippi? There’s really no logical explanation for his remarkable ability to attract so much attention yet remain so clean. I guess it’d be easy to suppose that as crooked as Hayne is, the folks who keep backing him up have to be far, far more crooked.

  30. #30 |  Mister DNA | 

    Scott #29,

    In addition to being a prosecutor’s best friend, it’s my understanding that Hayne is also quite cozy with the state’s personal injury lawyers. The only people who want to see Hayne run out of town on a rail are some poor people in prison and people with a sense of justice; a group not exactly known as a political powerhouse in the south (or anywhere else in the US, for that matter).

  31. #31 |  Judi | 

    Dearest Dave…

    Exactly. What I was saying was I’d rather see a man or whoever, PAY for a piece off ass rather than take it from someone who doesn’t WANT to give it.

    By the way, I know what RAPE is up close and personal. I was kidnapped, robbed and raped by two men when I was only 15 years old.

  32. #32 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    Mississippi for the most part is a pentacostal state… they freak out over the idea of having sex with the lights on… so any talk of the three letter word generates pure horror (ie: curiosity of people with real excitement in their lives) when you also understand that it’s one of the most obese states in the U.S…. well heck… maybe that’s part of Gods plan…

  33. #33 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #31 Judi

    Dearest Dave…

    Exactly. What I was saying was I’d rather see a man or whoever, PAY for a piece off ass rather than take it from someone who doesn’t WANT to give it.

    Ok, I see what you mean. It actually didn’t occur to me that legalizing prostitution could reduce rape. I can be pretty dense at times.

    Very sorry to hear about your terrible experience.

  34. #34 |  billy-jay | 

    Wow, Judi. Sorry to hear it.

  35. #35 |  Joel Turner | 

    Standing without it they don’t have a case, someone has to be injured to bring a case, how’s the injured party.

    You think I’m lying check out definition of legal standing.

  36. #36 |  Judi | 

    Dave and billy-jay. Thanx. I’ve moved on but I can’t say it doesn’t haunt me from time to time.

    One guy is dead from a shotgun blast to his face (not related to my assault) and the other one I supposed is roaming free.

    I was also a victim of repeated sexual child abuse from birth until age 12. But then that’s another story altogether.

    Still, with consenting adult prostitutes and other women who DO give their bodies away for money or freely, I often wonder why is there a need for raping or molesting someone.

    I hope that makes sense.

  37. #37 |  Judi | 

    By the way, I am not ashamed because I a ALIVE, A WINNER and a SURVIVOR!

    My tragic experiences have made me into the strong outspoken woman I am today at age 53.

    No one was there to fight for me during those dark times. No one stood up and said, “This is wrong” or protected me.

    That is why I FIGHT so hard for the victims of Hayne and West…and others who don’t have a voice.

    And I will NOT back down.

  38. #38 |  JS | 

    The Mann Act is old school, Feds should use IMBRA. “We caught him talking to some gal overseas without giving her all his legal info first! He’s a sex perv!”

  39. #39 |  Carlyle Moulton | 

    Radley.

    You might be interested in browsing the archives of Friends of Justice http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com/.

    This is a site set up as a result of the corrupt Tulia Texas cocaine convictions. It contains many articles on abusive prosecutions for which the motives are suspect. One of the subjects is the Alvin Clay prosecution and conviction. Here is a link to Alan Bean’s latest article on this issue http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/alvin-in-wonderland/ but it is worth going back to see the full story.

    Scott Horton of Harpers Magazine and Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw story have many articles on the prosecution of former democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and other prosecutions of Democratic politicians and public servants that look abusive. For example http://rawstory.com/news/2007/The_permanent_Republican_majority_Daughter_of_1127.html.

  40. #40 |  Alan Bean | 

    Thanks for the plug, Carlyle. Speaking of Friends of Justice, we are currently working a murder case in Mississippi that involves Steven Hayne’s pathology work. Just how sleazy is this guy?

  41. #41 |  Z | 

    Speaking as an east coast Jewish guy who was in Louisiana on a Ph.D. scholarship until his grades mysteriously went into the toilet and he was informed that the dean and his prof discussed ways to get rid of him because of his “ethnicity”, I recommend that Doc Weiner get out of dodge pronto.

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