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CRIME: The Solid Gold Cad

5 minute read

Familiar to song and story down the ages is the wastrel scion of a fortune-making family. Minot Jelke does not quite fit the type. In him, the entrepreneurial strain that made millions out of oleomargarine for his grandfather had not quite died out. Mickey, who stood to inherit $3,000,000 by the time he reached 30 and whose mother supplied him with ample cash, was not content to be a plain young rake; ambition led him to capitalize his vices in pimpery.

In the wastrel tradition Mickey shunned work, churned around Manhattan in a powder-blue Cadillac, carried a revolver, kept a bulging file of erotic photographs in his apartment, and lived it up expensively in the glossy glades of café society. So far, so bad. But Mickey couldn’t leave it at that. He found employment as a salesman of a commodity he knew a lot about: girls.

Two years ago police surprised him in his apartment with a lush blonde (he later married her) and began to snoop through his address books. They charged him with procuring. The first Jelke conviction (TIME, March 9, 1953) was reversed, not because the appellate court found any fault with the verdict but because Judge Francis L. Valente, trying to avoid press exploitation of the gamy details, had barred reporters and the public from the trial. The new trial was wide open. Once more Judge Valente was on the bench, and Call Girl Pat Ward, only 21, retold her sordid idyl of life with Mickey.

Nothing Improper? Before they met, Pat (formerly Sandra Wisotsky) already knew a lot about life. When she was 16, she passed out in the apartment of a friend, after an evening of drinking. When she woke up, she was pregnant. After the baby came, she began to drift horizontally toward café society. When she was 18, on one momentous night, she ran into Jelke. It was sex at first sight. That night Pat moved into Mickey’s apartment.

In those tender days, Pat recalled, Mickey took her to dinner at his mother’s, gave her a ring and told her to stick around until May, when his brother would inherit some money, and he could borrow $20,000. “Then,” Pat testified, “he said we could be married, and his wife would not have to live in an unbecoming style.” But Pat wanted to get married right away, and suggested that they both get jobs and live “even in a cold-water flat.” Mickey was horrified. “I couldn’t allow my wife to live that way,” he said. Instead, he suggested that Pat take up prostitution for a while. Pat didn’t like the idea, but when Mickey assured her that “there was nothing improper about it,” she agreed to help him out.

She did very well indeed. In five months, by her own reckoning, she made between $10,000 and $15,000 by renting herself, at $50 to $100 a date, to Mickey’s well-heeled acquaintances. She could not remember exactly how many men she had accommodated, but there were always plenty of wolves at the door. Mickey handled the money. Between dates, Pat testified, life was pretty routine: “I got up around 2, then we would make the rounds of nightclubs, and later go to after-hours places.” When Mickey left on a trip to Florida, he farmed Pat out to Erica Steel, a sometime madam. Jelke’s executive order to Erica : “Keep her busy.” Then Pat and Mickey broke up. On the witness stand Pat, invoking the Fifth Amendment, refused to say whether she had worked as a prostitute in New York after Jelke ditched her.

Pat was followed on the stand by four other call girls and one erstwhile madam, most of them reluctant to repeat their stories in public. The most unusual witness, however, was Richard Short, an ex-convict, thief, he-doxy and convicted pimp. Short once went to Jelke, he said, to get some customers for his fourth wife, Prostitute Pat Thompson. Mickey helpfully supplied the telephone number of one Ben Lewis, an old friend of Pat Ward’s. “Mickey told us Lewis was a high roller, likely to go to $500 or more if a girl treated him right.”

“Walking-Around Money. Short told how he had helped Mickey think of a new name for Marguerite Cordova, a Puerto Rican hat-check girl who wanted Mickey to be her pimp. They decided on “Marie Corday,” since Cordova “sounded too Spanish for the upper crust.” Pat Thompson paid all his household bills, Short explained, and gave him $300 a week “walking-around money.” Didn’t that amount to male prostitution? asked Assistant District Attorney Anthony Liebler. “Well,” snorted Short, “I’m a pretty good cook, too.”

After ten days of testimony the trial ended last week in a frenzy of name-calling. George Washington Herz, Jelke’s attorney, characterized Pat Ward as a “Fifth Amendment prostitute with crocodile tears.” Jelke, he said, was just a “little toy poodle.” Prosecutor Liebler had another word for him: “Jelke’s a male madam; that’s what he is!” When the jury came in with a guilty verdict, Mickey, who is now 25, turned as white as lard: he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in the penitentiary. But with luck and good behavior he will probably be out in plenty of time to collect his inheritance, due in 1960. Other punishment has already been visited upon him: he has served 6½ months in the workhouse for unlicensed possession of deadly weapons, and his name has dropped out of the Social Register. As for Pat, she was dropped out of café society and dropped in on the leather-jacket set. While the jury was pondering Mickey’s fate, Pat had a couple of Scotches at a Tenth Avenue saloon and went motorcycling with an old friend.

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