Police say call girl ring bust may be the biggest in Houston's history

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by By Jeremy Desel Jeff McShan / 11 News

kvue.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 20 at 11:13 AM

HOUSTON - Police say they have discovered some of the names on the alleged client list of one of the biggest call girl rings in Houston.

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Client list could become public
March 18, 2008

They have not released the names as they are still examining computer hard drives. They also say it could be several more days before forensic experts are done.

According to police, the list of more than 1,500 names is likely to include professional athletes, stockbrokers, doctors and lawyers.

"It's very possible. If there's a trial or some contested issue those names are likely to become public," said Houston attorney Terry Yates. "And also the government could bring what's called an engaging in organized crime case and list all those people as co-conspirators."

Most of the clients were men, but investigators say there were some women.

On Monday night, Marjorie Tankersley, 19, from Sugar Land and Dennys Charin Castaneda, 25, of Houston were charged with misdemeanor prostitution.

They allegedly worked for Deborah and Charlie Turbiville who were running the call girl ring, according to investigators. The and they were released after posting $5,000 bonds.

Deborah Turbiville's attorney says she is fully cooperating with police.

This could be because HPD's VIce Division has put together what appears to be a thorough case.

The information was obtained after an undercover officer was screened by the service and able to make an appointment with "Vanessa," the alias used by Tankersley, according to investigators.

The warrant states that the undercover officer, who was inside Hotel Derek in the Galleria area, told the suspect he was not able to engage in sex due to the guilt over his dead wife.

It also states that he asked her a series of questions about the Turbiville's business, which included how much of the $350 an hour fee she was able to keep. Tankersley allegedly told him she could keep $250.

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The Turbivilles were nabbed after a lengthy undercover operation that involved officers posing as johns and potential prostitutes.

Deborah Turbiville appeared to have a crystal ball in a statement she allegedly made to an undercover cop interviewing for a job as a prostitute.

When the women met at the Starbucks near the Galleria, Turbiville allegedly warned her about what would happen if they ever got caught.

"It's going to be a high-profile thing, all over the news," Turbiville told her according to a search warrant affidavit. "You know, that kind of thing."

The documents suggest Turbiville was confident in her operation.

"I always try to keep the in-call location low-key," Turbiville allegedly told the undercover officer. "There is never more than two or three people there and that's for your security, as well. I've done this for seven years and we have never had a problem.

The officer said Turbiville told her they were very selective about who they hire.

"Very, Very discreet. We try to keep it as low-profile as possible," Turbiville allegedly said. "We are very selective in the people we bring on because a lot of the time trouble does not come from the clients, it's going to come from the team. You get the wrong girl in and all of a sudden the dynamics change and it's a lot of drama."

A woman busted in another prostitution sting was the first to tell vice officers about the Turbivilles' operation, according to police.

Police Sgt. Mark Kilty called Debbie Turbiville "the Heidi Fleiss of Houston," referring to the former Hollywood madam who ran a prostitution ring that catered to wealthy clients around the world before her 1995 conviction.

"She was the one all the big players go to," Kilty said. "If you come to town and you're a big player, you call her. She screens you and she knows who you are and then you're good to go."

Customers underwent criminal background checks, Kilty said.

"You had to be brought into what she called 'her family,"' Kilty said. "These weren't johns off the street. These were suit-and-tie businessmen. She had the upper scale. She probably had the biggest escort service in Houston."

They say the Turbivilles recruited some of their high-priced call girls on Craigslist.

HPD says this is one of the largest call girl prostitution busts in Houston's history. A similar bust happened nearly 25 years ago with the Penelope Hatteras case.

Hatteras was a madam based in Houston. She also had offices in Dallas, Denver, and Atlanta.

She spent 2.5 years in prison.

Her "client" list was never released and allegedly destroyed, because according to Hatteras and published reports, the names found were just too prominent.

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