Fla. couple in prostitution scandal enter guilty pleas, agree to relinquish videotapes

December 14, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- After agreeing to testify against )) their lawyer and turn over a collection of steamy videotapes, Jeff and Kathy Willets ended their sensational sex saga yesterday, pleading guilty to 35 pending criminal counts against them.

The couple, who created international headlines with their tale of sex in suburbia, stood stoically as the series of charges was read aloud in the Broward County courtroom.

"All of this took place in your home?" prosecutor Joel Lazarus asked.

"Yes, sir," the Willetses said in unison.

The recommended sentences: three years' probation for Kathy Willets and up to 364 days in jail for her husband, a deputy sheriff.

The couple will be formally sentenced Feb. 3.

Prosecutors added several special conditions to the plea bargain.

Before offering the deal, they ordered the couple's lawyer to hand over the videotape showing Kathy Willets having sex with former Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Doug Danziger in her home in Tamarac, Fla.

Lawyer Ellis Rubin handed over a manila envelope containing a Sony ES T-120 tape.

"Is this the original copy?" Mr. Lazarus asked.

"That's the original," said Jeff Willets, who admitted that he hid in his bedroom closet and secretly filmed his wife with the former politician. "I never made any copies."

Willets said there are other sex tapes. He promised to turn them in next week.

Judge John Frusciante wasn't pleased with the plea deal.

He said he was upset that prosecutors had agreed to straight probation for Kathy Willets with no jail time. He also wondered whether the couple could be forced to testify against Mr. Rubin as part of the plea agreement.

Prosecutors are examining what role Mr. Rubin may have played in the attempted sale of the Danziger sex tape to tabloid television shows for $60,000. Under the plea offer, Jeff and Kathy Willets were required to waive their attorney-client privilege with Mr. Rubin and cooperate with the criminal investigation.

"I do have some difficulty with the idea of a client surrendering the attorney-client privilege as part of the plea," Judge Frusciante said. "I don't even know if that's legal."

In the end, prosecutors agreed to remove the requirement from the plea when the Willetses' new attorney, Robert Smoley, promised his clients' cooperation with the prosecution's investigation.

The Willetses said they were delighted to put the case behind them.

Ahead is a deal in the works with ABC for a possible television movie, according to their attorney.

"We're happy that's it's over with," Kathy Willets said. "The whole situation was getting totally out of control. Too many lives were being ruined."

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