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By Howard Mintz
A Stanford law school graduate was sentenced Monday on a federal tax conviction related to running a high-priced call girl service, punishment that includes restrictions on her ability to keep advertising as an escort while she's on probation.
During a hearing in San Jose federal court, U.S. District Judge James Ware concluded he needed to impose those restrictions on Cristina Warthen after federal prosecutors disclosed she's continued to advertise herself on the Internet as a high-priced escort, even as she awaited sentencing on federal tax evasion charges related to her days as an upscale prostitute named "Brazil."
Warthen gained notoriety when she was busted as a jet-setting call girl who sold her services to pay off her Stanford Law School debts. She got her law degree from Stanford in May 2001, but quickly began to run a steamy Web site with offers to jet off for liaisons with clients in cities around the country, including New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
She eventually pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes on more than $133,000 she earned as a prostitute in 2003.
Under a plea deal with the government, Warthen was sentenced Monday to one year of home detention with an electronic monitoring device and three years of probation. She also has to pay the government a total of about $243,000, less than the original $313,000 set out in her original plea arrangement.
Federal prosecutors agreed to the lower amount when Warthen demonstrated she could not pay it after her recent divorce from David Warthen, the co-founder of the online search engine Ask Jeeves, now known as Ask.com. Court papers show the once-wealthy Web entrepreneur's finances were decimated by last year's stock market collapse, and he could not provide more money to his now-ex-wife, who says she's unemployed.
But Ware was dismayed to learn from federal prosecutors and probation officials that Warthen has continued to advertise her escort services as she has awaited sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Callaway told the judge Warthen has posted ads on the Internet offering "companionship" for $2,000 a night.
"We all know that's a wink and nod and what she really is advertising is high end prostitution," Callaway said in court.
Warthen, who has been temporarily living in Seattle with her mother, has placed an escort ad on the Web. The image of her face is blurred in photographs on the Web ad, which boasts of a graduate degree from an "Ivy League university."
Brian Getz, Warthen's attorney, objected to the government's request, saying she is a "law abiding citizen" who has a free speech right to advertise escort services as long as she's not breaking prostitution laws. But Ware, noting that her sentence is already "lenient," was unmoved.
When Ware tried to get Warthen to explain the escort ads, Getz advised her not to discuss the matter.
"It pains me...to be advised that you are asking the court for permission to engage in advertising an escort business," Ware told Warthen.
In court papers, Warthen, now 34, previously admitted dealing in cash to hide her income as an escort, which she advertised on a Web site called "TouchofBrazil.net." As the government was investigating the service, Warthen, previously Cristina Schultz, married David Warthen. He filed for divorce earlier this year, citing "irreconcilable differences."