Top federal judge linked to prostitution ring

March 14, 2008 Edward Nottingham, the chief federal judge in Denver, Colo., was "implicated as a customer" in an ongoing IRS and Denver police investigation of an alleged prostitution operation called Denver Sugar/Denver Players, according to officials.

The service advertised on the Internet as having "gorgeous adult Colorado companions."

According to a Denver television station, KUSA, Judge Nottingham's nickname among the prostitutes was "Naughty."

Several "professional athletes," lawyers and businessmen are also involved, officials said.

Unlike the prostitution investigation in New York that led to this week's resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the Denver case has received little attention outside Colorado.

The 10th Federal Circuit Court is conducting its own investigation of the allegations against Judge Nottingham, according to a spokesman for Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Ethics.

Judge Nottingham has remained on the bench since being publicly linked to the investigation last week. His office referred calls to his lawyer, Stephen Peters, who said Judge Nottingham "has no public comment at this time."

Based on the Web site of Denver Sugar/Denver Players, prostitution prices seem to be substantially lower than those in New York.

According to published reports, Judge Nottingham, appointed to the federal bench in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, paid $300 to $400 for "all-inclusive" sex with prostitutes working for the Denver Sugar/Denver Players service.

New York Gov. Spitzer paid $4,300 for two hours with a prostitute named "Kristen," according to an FBI affidavit in which he was referred to as Client 9.

Judge Nottingham's conduct has been in question twice before. Last year, the Denver Post reported that FBI agents questioned his ex-wife "after she revealed he spent thousands of dollars at the Diamond Cabaret strip club and subscribed to an Internet dating site that contains pornography."

Judge Nottingham testified in the divorce proceedings he "had a lot to drink" he didn't remember what happened at the strip club, according to the paper.

In another case, a Denver disabled woman filed a complaint against Judge Nottingham after she said he parked illegally in a handicapped spot and then threatened her when she tried to get him to move his car.

Jeanne Elliott, a lawyer who was disabled after being shot by a client's husband, told Judge Nottingham "waved his judge's badge and threatened to have me arrested by U.S. Marshals."

According to reports, Nottingham was ticketed by police, paid a $100 fine and in a statement said he regretted parking in the handicapped space in his haste to pick up a prescription but disagreed with Elliott's version of events.

Judge Nottingham presided over the high-profile insider-trading trial of Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, which ended in Nacchio's conviction last year.
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