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  Chanes' lawyer, Rusty Wing, said his client is not guilty and had gotten legal advice 'all the way along' insisting that the porno Web sites were legitimate.

Daily News
New York, Monday, April 28, 2003


Glitz hid dirty deals

Feds say Hamptons honcho tied to porn & the mob

Daily News staff writer

David Irving reports:

One good thing about being a 'hater'," editorialises the right-wing Original Dissent website (USA) from which this Daily News item is re-copied, "is you never have to agonize over how best to put a Jewish criminal in soft focus lighting. A straight reading of the facts here sez that Chanes is a lifelong -- lifelong!! -- thief and swindler, a survival-obsessed predator feeding upon an easily-gulled host, and a duplicitous coward with no loyalty thicker than the width of a dollar bill -- a man who'd "give up his mother, his father. He has no problem with that."
   There are dark allusions made to the Mafia being the real bad guys in the story (triggering the embedded memories of a thousand TV dramas where brutish Vito dragoons honest-but-vulnerable Ira into crime with threats of violence and vendetta), yet -- assuming "Richard Martino" is not being sold out right now, and the 'Mafia' angle a convenient invention of Chanes' -- this fearsome, hydra-headed underworld shadow-army skimmed a mere $8 million off a $230-million pie!
  That's not even tip money in the shark-tank of Jewish 'finance', but never mind reality -- we can't simply focus on the Jew who initiated, funded, ran and pocketed the proceeds from the scheme.
   Might send The Wrong Signals. As for Chanes, my guess is the El Al reservations in his name were at the boarding gate desk at JFK when they grabbed him. I can't help but think of Norman Chanes as Hymie Prime:the high-tech, 21st century khazar made flesh."

Related file:

Our dossier on the origins of anti-Semitism

Norman Chanes has a $4 million Central Park West duplex and an $11 million beachfront house in the Hamptons. Chanes has produced a movie starring Rita Moreno, Ben Gazzara and a member of the "Sopranos" cast.

He has donated heavily to the prestigious Jewish Center of the Hamptons [Website comment: -- Which is the standard newspaper-trade way of identifying a criminal as Jewish without actually saying so].

And he has been proudly listed as a client of a Hamptons celebrity caterer - right next to Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline. It is hard to picture Norman Chanes as a Mafia associate.

But that was the charge that emerged last month, when U.S. Postal Service inspectors slapped the cuffs on the Bridgehampton multimillionaire in the lobby of his Manhattan duplex [apartment].

Chanes was charged with running porno Web sites for the mob, sites that stole thousands of credit card numbers from dumb and dumber Web surfers.

Chanes -- philanthropist and budding movie producer -- was named as partner of Richard Martino, reputed Gambino family soldier, according to an indictment handed up by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf [Website comment: where do they get these names?]

"This is not something I would have predicted," said Philip Goutell, a former partner of Chanes from his early days, back in the early 1980s.

Chanes' lawyer, Rusty Wing [Website comment: where do they get these names?], said his client is not guilty and had gotten legal advice "all the way along" insisting that the porno Web sites were legitimate.

"He has every intention of going to trial and establishing his innocence," Wing said. "We were quite surprised that an indictment had been returned. Very surprised."

Murky reputation

But a look at Norman Chanes' past makes clear that something like this was not entirely unpredictable.

In certain law enforcement circles, Chanes is a legend, a King of Scams cited repeatedly for blatantly false advertising.

They say Chanes' shtick was to sell you nothing for something, to make the worthless seem priceless -- just as he shaped his image in life, cloaking himself in the trappings of legitimacy.

"With Norman," said another former business partner who asked not to be named, "it all sounds legit -- on the surface."

It started with the Free Gifts packages of the 1970s. He and his partners blitzed major media with ads for free gift packets: Pay a $2, $5 or $10 "enrollment fee" and get free samples of brand names such as Revlon, Colgate and Palmolive.

Consumers wound up with nothing, or a booklet offering off-brand goods for more money. Chanes' companies were referred to as frauds by the Better Business Bureau in 1980.

"When I met him, I was in my late 20s, working as a freelance writer, and these guys were maybe four years younger than me. They were already making their first millions," said former partner Goutell. "You say, 'What do these guys know that I don't?' When you find out, you realize maybe you're better off not knowing."

By 1982, at age 35, Chanes had bought a home in the Hamptons, playing host to the society wedding of a prominent editor and a doctor.

The New York Times noted that the wedding took place "at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Chanes in East Hampton."

Ready to betray pal

That same year, he was arrested by postal inspectors on charges of selling what he called Marine surplus binoculars that were really plastic junk from China.

He pleaded guilty and immediately offered to cooperate against his close friend and partner in crime, Monroe Caine.

"He was one of the few people I've dealt with who'd do anything to stay out of jail," one law enforcement agent recalled.

"He'd give up his mother, his father. Caine was a good friend [but Chanes] had no problem with that."

He was sentenced to two years in jail but got a judge to trim that to three months' jail, 21 months' probation. He and Caine each paid $175,000 in fines. His probation ended in 1987, officials said.

Prosecutors say Chanes then moved on to the next big thing -- phone sex.

During the early 1990s, he met a man who would not fit in around the Hamptons - alleged gangster Martino.

Together through Chanes' company, Harvest Advertising, they marketed 900 numbers and raked in the cash.

Say money went to mob

Prosecutors say some of that cash went straight up the ladder to the Gambino leadership, during the time when John Gotti was alive and running the family through his son John A. (Junior) Gotti and brother Peter.

"I knew that Norman was running phone sex," said another business partner.

"He went under the radar. The whole industry changed. There were not that many people in the mail-order business. Maybe 80% were legit, 20% were notorious. But the whole country was different. The whole industry was different. All of a sudden, it became scammier and scammier."

At the same time, Chanes was becoming wealthier and wealthier.

He bought his oceanfront house on Dune Road in Bridgehampton and acquired not one but two apartments on Central Park West. One was a duplex filled with art.

In 1996, Chanes, Martino and David Chew, publisher of the skin magazine High Society, jumped into the porno Web site business, according to the indictment.

Dupes who visited, and were told they could take a free tour of the site. They had to enter credit card numbers to prove their age and were assured they would not be charged.

Hidden within the sexually explicit images on the site was text admitting that viewers indeed would be charged. This text was supposed to make the scam legitimate, investigators say.

$230M porn scam

The money poured in. Billing at $90 per month, they pocketed more than $230 million -- at least $8 million of which went to the Gambinos, prosecutors charged.

Meanwhile, in the Hamptons, Norman Chanes was listed as a celebrity client by caterer Francesca Events, next to Cates & Kline, Joe Lieberman, Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

By 2000, he had become executive pro-ducer of "Blue Moon," starring Ben Gazzara, Rita Moreno and "Sopranos" cast member Vincent Pastore. The flick's reviews were mixed.

By 2002, he was a member of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, listed as a major contributor to the High Holy Day Appeal. But behind the scenes, things were falling apart.

The FTC sent a warning letter to High Society about the "free tours" in 1999. Furious customers were discovering $90 charges on their cards.

In September 2001, High Society agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges of illegally billing customers. Chanes' name was nowhere in sight.

Then, at 5:45 a.m. on March 18, Postal Service inspectors showed up to put him in handcuffs.

One of the first things the U.S. attorney did was to put liens on one of Chanes' Central Park West apartments, as well as the Dune Road mansion in the Hamptons.

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