BROOKLYN — A private investigator-turned-reality show star tried to blackmail a witness in a child sex abuse case by recording the man's trysts with prostitutes and threatening to expose them if he helped in the case, prosecutors said.
The chicanery began when a Borough Park man, Samuel Israel, 45, was nabbed in March 2016 for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Israel paid his $100,000 bail and was released, but given an order of protection that forbade him from contacting the victim's family, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
Four months later, Israel paid $17,000 to Vincent Parco, who Penthouse once called "the ultimate hard-boiled private eye," to record "embarrassing video images" of the victim's relative and convince that relative not to help in prosecution against Israel, prosecutors said.
Parco, 65, got an associate of his, Tanya Freudenthaler, 41, to lure the relative to a Sunset Park hotel room where the two had rigged some hidden cameras to record him having sex with a prostitute they'd hired on Dec. 17, 2016, prosecutors said.
But the cameras didn’t work, so Parco, Freudenthaler and Israel arranged another rendezvous two days later involving two prostitutes which they successfully filmed, officials said.
Over the first six months of 2017, various strangers tried to blackmail the relative, who then reported the encounters to the District Attorney's Office, officials said.
"Be smart. Stop making trouble," said one stranger wearing a scarf, according to prosecutors.
Officials got a warrant and searched one of the blackmailer's homes, recovering video of the hotel episode and a statement where Israel admits to touching the victim in the child sexual abuse case, according to court papers.
Footage was also recovered from Parco’s office computer, and he later admitted he was hired by Israel, officials said.
But Parco's lawyer, Peter Gleason, said Israel lied to Parco, saying the case he wanted the investigator to look into was a consensual encounter with a 17-year-old girl from 10 years ago.
“Had he known the allegations against Mr. Israel involved a 12-year-old girl, Mr. Parco would not have touched this case with a 10-foot pole,” Gleason said.
The lawyer acknowledged Parco may not have done his due diligence researching the case.
“Parco’s the kind of guy who takes decisive action,” Gleason said. “He takes people at their word. He took this guy at his word.”
Parco once starred in a reality show called "Parco, P.I." which aired on CourtTV between 2005 and 2006.
Parco and Freudenthaler were arrested Tuesday and charged with unlawful surveillance, promoting prostitution, disseminating unlawful surveillance images, witness tampering and criminal contempt, prosecutors said. They were released without bail, but face up to seven years if convicted.
Israel was also faced charges stemming from the blackmailing, but also sexual conduct against a child and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said.
Israel was held on $150,000,
His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
All three are due back in court Oct. 20.