The alleged leader of the prostitution ring that tripped up Eliot Spitzer is credentialed to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service, an IRS spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, Mark "Michael" Brener, 62, had "ultimate decision-making authority" over the Emperor’s Club VIP prostitution service. They say he recruited "prospective prostitutes," handled the group’s marketing, and settled disputes between prostitutes and their clients.
He is also a licensed "enrolled agent" of the IRS, spokesman Rob Marvin confirmed. That means Brener was allowed to prepare and submit other people’s taxes, represent others in tax court and in negotiations with the IRS, and receive information directly from the IRS on behalf of others.
According to the IRS Web site, you can become an enrolled agent by passing a written examination, or by having previously worked for the IRS.
Marvin said he could not confirm whether or not Brener had ever worked for the IRS.
The requirements for being an enrolled agent are stringent: an applicant must pass a background check to ensure that he or she has "not engaged in any conduct that would justify" their suspension or disbarment, says IRS.gov.
Failing to file your tax returns on time could be enough to ruin your chances, the Web site says.
Brener reportedly had $600,000 in cash and an Israeli passport when he was arrested last week. He was charged with conspiracy to launder over $1 million in proceeds from the prostitution ring. His lawyer reportedly said he had been a U.S. citizen for two decades.
A government affidavit filed in the case portrays Brener had an eye for details. At one point he complained that one of the prostitutes had ignored him when he tried to instruct her how to properly fill out a credit card slip.
Perhaps coincidentally, IRS investigators were responsible for opening the investigation into the ring, although they were joined by FBI agents and public corruption prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.
Update: Authorities searching Brener’s apartment found three passports — two Israeli and one U.S. — the New York Post reported.