Did high-priced madam bought her way out of prison

Michelle Braun sentenced for selling $400K in bogus investments

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Michelle Braun gained notoriety for running a high-priced prostitution ring featuring Playboy playmates and alleged celebrity clients like Charlie Sheen and Tiger Woods. But more recently she pleaded guilty to running a boiler room scam in Fort Lauderdale.

The question: Did Braun pay her way out of prison?

Braun and seven co-defendants were charged with selling more than $400,000 in bogus investments over the phone.

"Michelle Braun was the leader of this case," said James Weick, an attorney for Brian Dunlevy, one of the co-defendants.

Despite prior felony pleas and a possible prison sentence of 30 years, Broward County Circuit Judge Matthew Destry sentenced Braun to four years of probation Friday after she agreed to pay at least $100,000 in restitution to her victims.

Dunlevy, on the other hand, was sentenced to 15 years prison by Destry in open court. Weick said his client -- who was also convicted of pawning off a lap top computer that had been stolen -- didn't have any money to pay restitution.

"Everyone else in the case who was able to provide restitution was given straight probation," Weick added.

"You look at this and you say these people bought their way out of prison," said Local 10's Bob Norman.

"It certainly looks that way," replied Weick.

"Because a person cannot pay restitution, we want jail time," said Della Fera. "However, if they can pay restitution, they don't need jail time. I think that's where the system breaks down."

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