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Valley Attorney Held in Alleged Vice Operation

Crime: Police accuse the Tarzana tax lawyer of running a brothel out of his second-floor office on Ventura Boulevard.

February 19, 1998|SOLOMON MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TARZANA — A tax attorney by day, Bobby Abrams allegedly was a pimp by night.

City police have arrested the 50-year-old Tarzana lawyer on suspicion of running a brothel out of his small second-story office on Ventura Boulevard. The name of his alleged sideline was "Fantasy Affairs," and at least six prostitutes purportedly performed their services amid the dirty couches, legal tomes and miniature trains adorning Abrams' modest office.

The operation also did house calls, said Lt. William Hall of the Los Angeles Police Department's Organized Crime and Vice Division.

Abrams advertised the business on the Internet and in L.A. X-press, the personals tabloid, according to Hall, who said the evidence includes an Internet ad of a naked hooker posed in Abrams office--with his legal diploma hanging in the background (New York University Law School, Class of 1983).

Abrams, who is free on $25,000 bail, maintains his innocence. He said in a phone interview Wednesday that he did taxes for a client who may have been involved in illegal activities. His arrest, Abrams said, was a mistake.

"It appears that the police have drawn overly broad charges and that they charged me just for what I was doing as a lawyer," he said. Abrams also suggested his arrest may have been improper and he complained that police didn't read his Miranda rights to him when they took him into custody Tuesday night. He also said there was a "strong possibility" he was being singled out because he is a tax attorney and this is filing season.

Although Internal Revenue Service officials acknowledge the agency usually increases its enforcement actions this time of year, they said Abrams has not been targeted by the agency and said his arrest was done by the LAPD.

The owner of the building, who did not want to be identified, said Abrams had rented the office for two years. Hairdressers in a beauty salon downstairs from the lawyer said he started sleeping in the office about a year ago, after he and his wife separated.

Abrams' landlord said he tried to evict him last year after he discovered the lawyer had installed a shower in the office and bored holes in the walls to make room for his electric train set. Abrams also lined the walls with floor-to-ceiling shelves to hold hundreds of his miniature trains.

The landlord said he did not suspect Abrams had been running a prostitution ring out of the office, but said he had noticed his tenant's unusual clientele.

"He had three secretaries [who were] as tough and hard as he is," he said. "There were lots of fights and screaming between them and him."

Police came to the legal office twice last week because of noise complaints, the landlord said.

"My other tenants have been threatening to leave," he said.

Abrams was booked at the West Valley station on suspicion of pimping and pandering and has yet to be formally charged in court. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

He also faces possible disbarment, according to Anne Charles, a spokeswoman for the State Bar of California. Even if he is not convicted of a crime, the bar could recommend Abrams be stripped of his license to practice law if it determines his acts amount to moral turpitude.

"Typically, we could go from formal charges to a formal resolution in six months," Charles said.

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