A major law enforcement investigation into Denver’s top escort agency has sent a chill through the local sex-for-hire industry – and the wealthy clientele who finance it.
Rumors of distress in the escort underground floated by Westword’s ear earlier this week with industry insiders reporting that offices and “in-call” houses for the top-tier outfit known as both Denver Players and Denver Sugar had been raided late last month by Denver Police and IRS investigators.
While vice squad busts of less organized escort set-ups are not unusual, the fact that law enforcement seized computers and files of Denver Players/Sugar but made no arrests has fueled speculation on adult services internet forum boards that officials are seeking larger indictments within the local escort world, which could implicate a client list of professional athletes, politicians, judges and other power players.
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IRS spokeswoman Alycyn Culbertson said that she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation at this point. But several subcontractors who worked for Denver Players/Sugar in capacities ranging from web design, photography, and even tanning salons have been served with warrants demanding they turn over records of past financial dealings with the company. Sources who were questioned by the IRS say the investigation was explained to them as a federal tax-evasion case going before a grand jury. The Denver branch of the U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed to 9News that they were working with the IRS on the “ongoing criminal investigation.”
Denver Players/Sugar emerged as the premier provider of super-hot companions in 2004 after the city’s previous title holder, Colorado Companions, hit the skids because of owner Gary Haney’s growing meth addiction. In 2005, Denver Players/Sugar was purchased by Brenda Stewart under the company name Phoenix Media and Consulting, LLC. Herself a former escort, Stewart went by “Katrina Carter,” or simply “Carter,” to staff and associates. Denver Players/Sugar had been formerly owned by Scottie Ewing, a proprietor of the swinger-friendly nightclub Sugar House.
At any given time, twenty or more women were employed by Denver Players/Sugar as escorts in cities throughout the Front Range, and in Aspen and Vail. The now defunct website www.denversugar.com featured online profiles for women like “Juvel,” described as a “sensual Latina with a sexy accent…slender with silky sweet skin and gorgeous long legs.” The going rate for one hour of “all-inclusive companionship” was $300 or more. The company had a reputation as one of the most professional and fair-minded toward escorts in the industry, often advertising its status as “female owned and operated” in recruitment ads published in various publications, including Westword.
But attracting the top escorts meant that Denver Players/Sugar attracted the top patrons, which could make this IRS investigation about much more than back taxes. - Jared Jacang Maher