'DC Madame' Scandal Widens, Directory Assistance Implicated

WASHINGTON -- The number of high-profile figures ensnared in the so- called 'DC Madame' sex scandal grew yesterday when Directory Assistance issued a statement acknowledging that its number -- 555-1212 -- was among those repeatedly dialed from the phone of accused madame Deborah Jeane Palfrey. The number "turns up repeatedly, almost serially, in every year from 2001 to 2006," according to a statement by prosecutors.

Apparently, Directory Assistance was dialed not only in the District of Columbia, but also in numerous other areas, including Northern Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York and California.

"I am ashamed to say that I had frequent contact with Miss Palfrey, as her telephone records indicate," Directory Assistance said in a statement faxed, collect, to The Associated Press. The statement insisted that "although I offer no defense for these calls, at the time the earliest ones were made, I had simply hoped to secure an escort for a formal occasion when AT&T acquired Sprint."

A prosecutor, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing the sheer fun of being in the newspaper anonymously, said investigators have serious doubts that the contact was casual.

"This appears to be far from a one-way business arrangement," the prosecutor said. "On the occasion of almost every call after the third one, we have records indicating that Miss Palfrey paid the recipient of these calls amounts ranging from 75 cents in 2001 to as much as $1.25 in the later years. Somebody was doing some heavy business here and we intend to get to the bottom of it."