Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer. Yes, I Am Confident That I’m Not Jumping To Conclusions Here…[CORRECTED]

John Gillespie, a  criminal defense lawyer in Melbourne, Florida, was arrested in a law enforcement sting operation over the weekend  for using his legal practice to recruit young female clients into a prostitution ring that he ran out of his home.

And you thought “Better Call Saul” was disillusioning…

The Orlando Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation found evidence that Gillespie “would initiate women he represented on criminal charges into prostitution or exchange sex acts for legal fees.” A former law firm employee tipped off the agency, explaining that she had helped Gillespie recruit women and girls into sex trafficking.

“John Gillespie became a known source of prostitutes, and began getting a steady stream of prostitution customers,” the agency said in a press release. “John Gillespie and the [confidential informant] would get prostitution customers by going to high tourist areas and handing out business cards.”

That’s pimp business cards, not his lawyer cards. Handing out lawyer cards can be unethical in Florida.

Thus enlightened, agents received wire-tapping authorization to listen in on Gillespie’s phone calls. They concluded that he  was operating a prostitution ring, and often had sex with the juveniles he advertised as prostitutes.  The lawyer posted ads on an escort website to attract several girls who he had live at his home. Gillespie created leverage over the young women by keeping them in debt for his legal fees, back rent for staying at his home, and for drugs.

To be fair, other than the sex trafficking, the extortion, the drugs and the coerced sex with minors,  Gillespie appears to be an excellent attorney.

The sting developed after Gillespie instructed  his employee-turned informant to set up a meeting with a 16-year-old girl. She was supposed to be instructed to never disclose her real age to him in order to give him a defense against sex with a minor charges, and that if she was to ever get arrested, she should not involve him because that  would prevent him from being able to represent her.

See? He knew his bar’s conflict of interests rules!

In a particularly icky exchange, the informant told  Gillespie that the 16-year-old he was meeting had been  sexually molested. The 71 year-old lawyer replied, “Well, she is my type..”

Gillespie met the informant in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn Orlando Airport. After texting the girl, who was really an undercover agent, he was taken  by the informant to a hotel room, where the lawyer planned on paying the teen $100 for sex and convincing her to live at his home.   Gillespie was arrested in the room and charged  with human trafficking for commercial sexual activity with a child under 18, violating the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act, conspiracy to commit racketeering and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

It should come as no surprise that he denies doing anything wrong, and claims he was just trying to help the girl who turned out to be an undercover agent. Entrapment!

“I went there to help that girl try to find a place to live. That’s what I was suckered into going there for,” he said. “The texts that I sent that girl at that hotel when I agreed that I would go there, the text said that I don’t care if she doesn’t trust me, if she needs a place to stay, I will try to help her. I do not want anything from her. And how they can get I want to have sex with the girl from that, I don’t want anything from her. It just boggles my mind.”

This story is mind-boggling, all right.


10 thoughts on “Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer. Yes, I Am Confident That I’m Not Jumping To Conclusions Here…[CORRECTED]

  1. Gillespie wanted a political career as well, which would have made this story even more “interesting”. He was a candidate for the Brevard County Council in the 2018 Republican primary, but did not advance to the general election. (I live in Brevard County, and winning the GOP nomination is essentially tantamount to winning the election.)

    • “To be fair, other than the sex trafficking. the extortion, the drugs and the coerced sex with minors, Gillespie appears to be an excellent attorney.”

      That was his problem. If he had run as a Democrat, the NYT could have published the quote above as an endorsement.

  2. Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers said on a recent hockey podcast that Florida is a “sunny place for shady people”..

    I prefer “The Jerry Springer State”

    • “A sunny place for shady people” is stolen from the Green Parrot Bar in Key West, one of the greatest dive bars on the planet. Opened in 1890, during Prohibition it was “a grocery store.” (yeah, right) The Parrot is known for having good music. In December 2018 I was there when a vacationing Bruce Springsteen borrowed a guitar from a member of the band playing on a Sunday night and performed “Thunder Road” for a crowd of about 30 people.

      • Ah, Florida. The Sunshine State and my home state. As Dave Barry would say, although in a much funnier turn of phrase, it’s just amazing the stories and characters Florida consistently produces. This guy sounds and looks like a John D. McDonald/Travis McGee character writ large. John D. could make an entire novel length piece out of this story. Throw in a murder or two and some action on some boats and away you go. And let’s give this guy some credit for quick thinking and verbalizing on his feet. Must be a very successful criminal defense lawyer.

        • While they’re both superb writers I’d say more Carl Hiaasen than John D. McDonald. For some reason people think Hiaasen (who is still a regular Miami Herald contributor) writes fiction.

          • You’re doubtless correct, Gregg. I don’t know Hiaassen other than as a name. I rarely visit The Herald’s website. I can’t stand Leonard Pitts, Jr. and they give him a lot of play, as if he’s on staff there. I consider him a race grievance monger of the first degree, a veritable Charles Blow. And I haven’t read any John D.s since I binged on him ten or fifteen years ago for a while, until they all started to seem the same. I would love to see a Dave Barry piece on this guy. Is Dave still writing? For the Herald?

            • Dave Barry is semi-retired. He’ll write an occasional item for the Herald and his syndicate and his annual recap of the previous year at the turn of the calendar but he’s mostly devoting himself to books now. As for Hiaasen, who does still have a non-fiction column in the Herald, his fiction is widely published (and has been turned into a couple of mediocre movies). For an initial introduction I’d suggest “Stormy Weather”, which depicts an even weirder than real life south Florida after a devastating hurricane or “Lucky You”, a caper comedy involving a winning lottery ticket.

  3. I just fixed several dumb typos in this post (Thanks to Other Bill.) ALL of today’s posts so far were written while I was listening to my bank’s UNBELIEVABLY loud and objectively annoying on-hold music, which I and my wife are convinced is designed to make anyone hang up.A 4000 dollar charge suddenly showed up this morning, and it took four calls, three cut-offs, two transfers,and more than two hours of having that “music” in the background to get it taken care of.

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