A former reality TV gumshoe accused of hiring prostitutes to blackmail a witness in a child sex abuse case says he’s the victim of a political prosecution.
Private eye Vinny Parco, one-time star of the Court TV show “Parco P.I.,” was charged in 2017 with promoting prostitution and unlawful surveillance for allegedly trying to blackmail a relative of the now-adult sex abuse victim to keep her from testifying against his client Samuel Israel, who was sentenced in 2018 to eight years in prison for molesting the then-12-year-old girl.
Prosecutors said Israel paid Parco $17,000 to set up and record the relative with hookers in a hotel room. But the relative went to authorities, and videos of the blackmail tryst were found on Parco’s computer, prosecutors said.
Lawyers for Parco, 67, said the relative should have had no expectation of privacy since he knew he was consorting with hookers.
But the defense’s larger objection is that Parco is a political target, fallout from what the lawyers say is Brooklyn DA’s Eric Gonzalez’ cozy relationship with the borough’s Orthodox Jewish community.
“Defendant Vincent Parco believes that his prosecution is politically motivated,” Parco’s attorney, Lawrence LaBrew, said in a motion filed Sunday night. “The prosecution is trying to inflame the jury by insinuating that the defendant intimidated a victim or witness.”
A source familiar with the case told the Daily News “the facts don’t support” Parco’s claims.
“A defendant who is serving an eight-years sentence is member of the Orthodox community. To say that this is a political motive is a ridiculous claim.”
The Brooklyn DA’s office could not be reach for comment.
Parco’s defense also accused the DA’s office of a double standard for not going after one of its own under similar circumstances.
Nanny Vanessa Rivas filed a civil suit against her boss Lauren Seltzer, a former Manhattan assistant DA, after finding a spy cam in the bathroom of the home where she was taking care of the prosecutor’s kids.