Plea bargain reached in pimping case
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A woman arrested for allegedly running an Aspen prostitution ring pleaded guilty to one count of prostitution Monday in a plea bargain that dismissed a felony charge.
Elizabeth Ann Koeppel, 44, was charged in December with conspiracy to commit pimping after police said they discovered through an undercover investigation and anonymous tips that she was hiring women, including underage girls, as “full-service escorts.”
The plea agreement reduces the felony charge to a class III misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and a $750 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 17, after Koeppel undergoes a mental health evaluation.
Koeppel, who wore black Versace jeans and a green shirt, gave District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss only yes and no answers when asked if she understood the plea agreement and if she had any questions after signing the agreement. She left the courtroom wearing large black sunglasses and a leather jacket.
“Because I am guilty of the crime, your honor,” Koeppel replied when asked why she was pleading guilty.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills, who assisted in structuring Koeppel’s disposition, said the outcome is “fair and reasonable.”
“It’s what she did,” he said. “It’s prostitution.”
Defense attorney Gerald Goldstein spoke on Koeppel’s behalf after the hearing.
“She is happy with the dismissal of the felony charge, and I think a misdemeanor is an appropriate resolution for all concerned,” Goldstein said.
He said his client plans to move to Dallas and will be asked to prove her employment in that area for probation officers. Koeppel was not available for comment after the hearing, and someone who answered her home telephone said her attorneys should answer any questions.
Aspen Police Detective Jim Crowley, who investigated the case for a year before Koeppel was arrested, said the guilty plea did in part resolve the case.
“I’m glad we got a guilty plea out of it,” he said. “But it would have been helpful if that person had come forward once we arrested Elizabeth.” He was referring to a valley resident who wrote police an anonymous letter stating that his or her 17-year-old daughter had been solicited for work by Koeppel.
According to the affidavit Crowley prepared for Koeppel’s arrest, she ran ads for her local escort service under the headings “Beautiful Blonde” and “Escorts of Aspen” in local newspapers. She also solicited local women to join her business with a “Model types wanted” ad.
Her arrest warrant also states that during an undercover operation using a female officer, Koeppel told the officer that clients are charged between $600 and $1,000 an hour. She also said she ran a “full-service” escort business that includes being “intimate” with clients.
“This outcome accomplishes the goal of having her not run her business in Aspen, so to that end, it was successful,” Crowley said of the plea agreement.
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