He’s a judge sworn to uphold the law.
She’s the notorious madam who boasted her brothel was protected by a “VIP book” of friends who made sure “she did not have problems with the police.”
Cook County Criminal Court Judge William H. Wise says he has no idea who Kimberly Miniea is.
But Hillside Police found his name, his phone number and his former business address in documents they seized in a 2007 vice raid on Miniea’s home – a brothel within Wise’s west suburban jurisdiction. In a report, they described the documents as Miniea’s “past client information.”
And the judge isn’t the only public official on it.
The names of New York Citizen’s Crime Commission Chairman Richard Ciecka and former Berwyn Police Chief Frank Marzullo also appear with Wise’s on the documents recently released to the Chicago Sun-Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Though the 2007 raid in which the list was seized made national headlines, and Miniea repeatedly dodged prison despite a series of undercover investigations and two felony pandering convictions, detectives never spoke to Wise, Ciecka, Marzullo or any of the other men named on the list.
It’s one VIP list nobody wants to be seen on. Wise, Ciecka and Marzullo all strongly deny knowing Miniea, paying her for sex, or doing anything to protect her business.
There’s no evidence that the list has been updated since 2002.
The list of more than 100 names was seized along with half-empty boxes of condoms, prostitute ads, animal sex DVDs and other evidence.
Scrawled on a loose collection of index cards, notebook pages and pocket books, it was found inside a brown briefcase in the master bedroom of the Berkeley home where Miniea’s prostitutes charged $220 for sex. Police say the madam kept it for decades.
Parts of the list seem to date to the early 1980s, a period when Miniea, 52, has said she was working for a high-end Gold Coast madam.
Other parts appear to have been updated within the last decade, by which time Miniea was an alcoholic running a low-rent bordello at her ranch-style suburban home, with satellite operations in Des Plaines and Chicago Ridge. Attractions there included a 74-year-old woman Miniea had taken in from the street, according to a police report.
Testifying in a child custody case earlier this year, Miniea said most of her clients were “professional men” who she’d only take on if she was “personally introduced to them through a former client.” She’d “been to parties at their homes” and serviced them for years, she said.
The Sun-Times is naming only the public officials on the list seized from her home in 2007.
Many of the men, including Ciecka, are named only on the very earliest documents in the list from the early 1980s. Others are listed only on more recent papers, or like Marzullo, appear only on documents that are clearly more than a decade old but are impossible to precisely date.
But some do have their names copied multiple times from the earlier lists onto later lists.
And nobody is named more often than Judge Wise, whose name and number appear five times, including an entry on what seems to be the most recent list, a set of preprinted cards marked “CONFIDENTIALLY GUARANTEED APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP.”
Though the section of Wise’s card marked “Personal Preferences” is left blank, similar cards filled out for other alleged clients describe their sexual kinks, stamina, marital status or quirks, including one man who allegedly keeps his “boots on all times.”
A card filled out for a real estate developer who died in 2002 was marked “DEAD” – evidence that the list was being updated long after Wise was first appointed to the bench.
The 71-year-old judge wasn’t in a chatty mood during a recent, brief interview in his Maywood courthouse chambers.
“I don’t know anything about it, so I have no comment,” Wise said when told that “Bill Wise” appears multiple times on the list.
Told that a phone number he was using until 2005 and the address where his former private legal practice at 180 North La Salle was based until 1995 are recorded on the membership application, Wise acknowledged, “I had an office there.”
But the judge added, “I have no idea who or what [Miniea] is.”
He isn’t the first judge forced to deny inappropriate ties to Miniea. In January, the Sun-Times revealed how Miniea was secretly taped claiming that retired Cook County Judge James M. Bailey is her platonic “boyfriend.”
Bailey, who sentenced more convicts to death than any other jurist in the state, was himself secretly taped in 2009 being introduced to “two new girls” inside the brothel, court records say. Arrested inside the brothel but released without charge, he later helped Miniea take guardianship of two children she “adopted” from a heroin-addicted prostitute. He also wrote a letter to a judge who was sentencing Miniea for felony pandering, urging leniency.
Bailey’s name isn’t on the alleged client list.
As for Wise, he has never been questioned by police about Miniea.
Initially sworn in as a criminal court judge in 1995, Wise returned to private practice in 1998, only to be recalled from retirement to serve again as a judge in 2006. His current term is due to end in November.
There’s no evidence he intervened or was involved in any of Miniea’s many court cases over the years, and Hillside Police said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges of soliciting a prostitute against Wise or any of the other men named on the alleged client list.
Wise’s denial was matched by 11 other men on the list who were contacted by the Sun-Times. But three of the denials – including Ciecka’s – were a little less emphatic than the rest.
One man acknowledged knowing Miniea, though he denied paying for sex and said they’d “dated” 30 years ago after meeting at a Rush Street disco. “It was a fun time for me. . . . I’m not embarrassed,” he said.
Another man admitted paying for sex, though he said that was in the 1960s and that he doesn’t know Miniea, offering to take a lie detector test to prove it. “I have nothing to hide,” he said.
Ciecka, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago and former CEO of Mutual of America Life Insurance, also denied knowing Miniea or paying for sex but said he would resign as chairman of the New York Citizen’s Crime Commission. He said the early 1980s was “a tumultuous time for me,” adding “I would hope that my reputation was not tarnished in 2012 by something that I did when I was in my 40s and going through a divorce.”
Ciecka said he assumed that his name and former Lake Shore Drive address ended up in Miniea’s collection of alleged past client information because he’d “met a few women at the jazz bar” on the ground floor of his building. He said he’d resign his position, “because I care about the Crime Commission and I don’t want to hurt them.”
The Crime Commission’s president, Richard Aborn, didn’t seem likely to accept any resignation Ciecka might offer. “Mr. Ciecka has denied the story and his integrity is unimpeachable,” Aborn said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to his continued service on the board.”
For his part, former Chief Marzullo laughed when he was first told that his name and onetime rank of Berwyn Division Commander appear in a phone book that police say forms part of the “past client information.”
The phone book lists the names and numbers of some of the men who are also listed on the cards marked “CONFIDENTIALLY GUARANTEED APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP,” but it also contains entries that appear to have nothing to with the Miniea’s brothel business. Those include insurance companies, a video store, and 1-800 numbers for the phone company and Illinois driver’s license information.
Marzullo’s name appears only in the phone book, and no number is listed next to his name.
“I haven’t been a Division Commander for 20 years,” Marzullo said. “I’ve never met that woman and she don’t know me – I never had any conversations with her and I don’t have nothing to do with no prostitutes.”
Contacted again recently, a much angrier Marzullo again denied knowing Miniea. He said his name could have been placed in the phone book for any number of legitimate reasons. “I’m a public figure and my name is in the media,” he said, “It could have been put in there like a plumber or an electrician.” He said there was “no evidence” to corroborate that the book his name appears in is part of any client list, noting that no sexual preferences appear next to his name.
At least one mystery remains about the alleged client list: a two and three-quarter hour January, 19, 2007, appointment listed in one of Miniea’s notebooks with a man identified only as “commissioner.”
Whoever he is, the “commissioner” is probably safe from any fresh criminal investigation. The statute of limitations for soliciting a prostitute in Illinois is just 18 months.
The Code of Judicial Conduct governing the behavior of Illinois judges has no such time limitations, however.
Under the code, a judge must ensure his or her hobbies “do not detract from the dignity of the judge’s office or interfere with the performance of . . . judicial duties.” He or she can also be disciplined or removed from the bench by the Courts Commission if he fails to “respect and comply with the law” or to “conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Judicial Inquiry Board executive director Kathy Twine refused to comment on whether Wise is being or has been investigated, saying the board’s work was confidential. Cook County’s Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who has the power to reassign Wise, also declined to comment for this story.
Miniea didn’t want to talk about it, either.
Her claims about a “VIP book” of clients protecting her business were finally revealed in family court documents last year, after the two “adopted” children she raised inside the brothel were removed from her care by the state.
Cook County Juvenile Court Judge Richard Stevens in June ordered the two little girls, aged 9 and 3, be returned to her.
Miniea’s attorney, Michael McInerney, said the madam closed the brothel and turned her life around to ensure she got the girls back.
Whoever was or wasn’t her client “isn’t a concern at this point – it’s all behind her,” McInerney said. “I don’t really care if the pope and the president were in there.”
But a clue recovered from Miniea’s home in the 2007 raid suggests she believed there were plenty of people who might be interested, and hints at a possible reason she may have hung on to her alleged client list for so long.
Cut from the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times on March 3, 2007, it was an article about a prostitution scandal in the nation’s capital.
The headline was, “Accused D.C. madam threatens to sell client list.”