By Debra Friedman, STAFF WRITER
Published 10:22 p.m., Monday, August 31, 2009
An extensive “sugar daddy” extortion plot that targeted a Greenwich millionaire’s secret online world in which women were his slaves and he was their master all started after an Ohio couple watched an episode of television’s “Dr. Phil,” according to newly released police reports.
The reports also detail the requirements investor Stephen Dent would impose on women he viewed as his online sex slaves, including getting breast implants, visiting fetish Web sites and sending frequent sexually explicit e-mails and pictures.
In an interview with police, Christopher Jessop, 30, of Mansfield, Ohio, called himself the mastermind of the scheme that successfully bilked 54-year-old Dent out of more than $200,000. Jessop said he came up with the idea after watching a segment on “Dr. Phil” that detailed the sugar daddy dating site SeekingArrangement.com.
“I was like, baby, you know, get on the computer and see what this is about,” said Jessop, detailing a conversation he had with his wife, Dawn Jessop, to Greenwich detectives in a March 19 jailhouse interview. “The next thing I know, I mean, these rich guys are just sending us money for nothing “¦ just conversations over e-mail.”
Although the Jessops obtained money from other wealthy men on the Web site, the Jessops told police they only blackmailed Dent.
“We came across Stephen Dent, and he was into some pretty weird stuff,” Christopher Jessop said to detectives. “He turned out just to be a gold mine to us.”
The Jessops’ police reports, released following a Freedom of Information Act request by Greenwich Time, also identify Patricia Miller, 45, of Michigan as the “harem mother,” or head slave, who would help Dent ensure the other women were real and held up their end of the arrangement.
Ironically, police said, Miller was posing as at least four different younger women and used those aliases in an alleged attempt to deceive Dent and later to extort him herself.
The Jessops were arrested in March 2009 after police unraveled their scheme.
Christopher Jessop received 18 months in jail and Dawn Jessop received a suspended sentence with probation after pleading guilty in May. Miller was extradited from Michigan in May on larceny charges. She has not entered a plea.
Dent also was the victim of an extortion attempt in 2007 by a Queens man, Roy Sipel, who threatened to expose Dent, claiming he engaged in “vile and vulgar” acts with his girlfriend in a Greenwich hotel.
In a May 2009 story, Greenwich Time exposed Dent’s history of troublesome online relationships and his role in paying women nearly $200,000 for sex in 2007.
In a statement to police, Dawn Jessop said once she began chatting with Dent, he sent her an e-mail detailing his demands and agreed to send $10,000 a month if she complied.
“Stephen e-mailed me and it stated that he wanted me to learn the values of slavement,” wrote Dawn Jessop in a statement to police. The Jessops told police that Dawn always sent fake pictures of other people and often times it was Christopher engaging Dent in the more sexually explicit conversations, according to police reports.
When Dawn Jessop failed to meet Dent in person, Dent cut her off financially and that led Christopher Jessop to start threatening him, according to police reports.
Christopher Jessop said he needed a way to keep up his now lavish lifestyle. The Jessops told police they spent about $200,000 on jewelry, fine dining and a Range Rover sport utility vehicle between November 2008 and February 2009 — all money obtained from Dent both legally and illegally.
When Christopher Jessop first threatened Dent, the pair was successful in obtaining $100,000 in hush money, police said, and Dent agreed not to call police.
“I will have no reason to contact the authorities so long as your keep your end of the agreement,” Dent wrote in an e-mail to the Jessops. “I am trusting you to keep your word and delete everything from your computer related to me. The fact that you view this money as compensation, not blackmail, is a good sign. I agree that you earned it, and I am willing therefore to pay for it.”
Christopher Jessop told police he decided to take it one step further after he realized he had one last damaging e-mail, which led him and Dawn to drive to Greenwich, where they confronted Dent.
By this time, however, the FBI and Greenwich Police noticed that Dent was transferring large sums of money by wire and had asked him to come in and tell them what was going on, according to police reports. Dent wore a wire during a meeting with Christopher Jessop and minutes later police arrested him and his wife at a local hotel in March 2009.
Christopher Jessop told police he never imagined things would end up the way they did.
“I just thought it was sickening, the stuff that he was doing and saying to these girls “¦ I guess I tried to take justice into my own hands,” said Jessop. “I did not, honestly, ever in 100 million years even begin to fathom that I could be sitting here in this kind of trouble.”
Dent’s lawyer, Steven Frederick, of Stamford, did not return a call for comment Wednesday for this story.
Mark Sherman, who represented Christopher Jessop and is now representing Miller, said that while one of his clients has taken the fall for a crime, he believes Miller is innocent.
At Miller’s last court hearing, prosecutors offered her a plea deal with a suspended jail sentence and probation. Miller indicated she did not want to accept the offer.
Sherman said Wednesday he hoped to resolve the case prior to a trial, but expected Dent to testify if the case does go to trial.
“It is very likely Mr. Dent would have to testify,” Sherman said.
Miller is due back in court Sept. 1.