An NYPD officer with ties to the Gambino crime family has been accused of running a high-end prostitution enterprise where escorts charged as much as $2,000 an hour for their services.
Michael Rizzi, who retired from the NYPD on disability in 2000, was arrested Tuesday on charges including promoting prostitution and money laundering after authorities tied him to 58 prostitution websites, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
His attorney, Javier Solano, denies the allegations.
"You will see my client was very clear this was a straight-up legitimate legal service and business," Solano said.
According to the complaint, Rizzi registered the the websites 2012 and 2013 and built them out to include 25 to 30 photos of women in various states of undress along with "donation" prices and "VIP Model" sections. He allegedly set up "booking" phone lines for people looking to hire prostitutes.
The complaint alleged that Rizzi -- who often signed emails as "Bruce" -- accepted applications from women hoping to work for him over email and set up in-person interviews at hotels.
In one instance where a woman said she didn't want to meet in person, Rizzi allegedly responded "I'm sorry darling, google 'escorts in nyc' im number one for a reason... I get the most business, my girls make the most money, my clients are the wealthiest people in the world. I will never send a model I haven't interviewed."
He added, "You will be handling cash and credit card receipts I need to know who I am working with like any other girls I hire. Been doing this 10 years never a problem."
Women who worked in Rizzi's prostitution business charged anywhere between $400 and $2,000 per hour for either services, according to the complaint. When a john requested a woman's services, Rizzi's bookers would text them with information on where they should go and what name they should go by.
The complaint alleges that in one instance, a john hired three prostitutes for a night for $25,000, with the price including sex and cocaine. The john allegedly told investigators that he gave Rizzi's company his credit card and ID for payment.
Rizzi is described by law enforcement sources as a Gambino crime family associate, whose wife is the niece of Gambino capo Sonny Giuliano.
According to the complaint, he pleaded guilty to promoting gambling in 2009 and paid a fine for the misdemeanor offense.
Rizzi was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations and NYPD officers, officials said. His wife put up their Brooklyn home to bail her husband out, but he was arrested again after leaving court on gun charges.
Solano said the gun is "probably rusted and doesn't even work."