May 5, 2008 -- Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, took her own life last week because she could not bear going to prison, she told her mother in a suicide note that she left on her nightstand.
"I cannot live the next 6-8 years behind bars for what both you and I have come to regard as this 'modern day lynching,'" Palfrey wrote. Local Florida police released the notes to the media Monday morning. Palfrey said she did not want to face leaving prison as a "penniless and very much alone woman."
Palfrey was scheduled to be sentenced in July after a jury in Washington, D.C. found her guilty of money laundering, racketeering and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a prostitution ring she ran from 1993 to 2006.
After spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an investigation and trial, Palfrey was the only person charged in the case by prosecutors. Several well-known men were reportedly clients of her service. Former U.S. Agency for International Development chief Randall Tobias and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., both admitted to being former clients of her escort service. Neither man was charged nor were they asked to testify at her trial.
"Our government and community should think about the ultimate goal here," Juhu Thukral, the director of the Sex Workers Project, which engages in legal advocacy for sex workers, told ABCNews.com.
Palfrey left behind two notes, one for her mother and the other for her younger sister. She tells both women that she loves them very much and that she will be waiting for each of them "on the other side."
"What did this prosecution accomplish?" asks Thukral. "Look at the lives destroyed."