Couple to plead not guilty

CHARLOTTE -- Sallie and Donald Saxon, accused of operating a high-priced prostitution ring in Charlotte, will plead not guilty, their defense attorneys said.

The husband and wife are scheduled to return to federal court next Monday for their arraignments.

Defense lawyers Noell Tin and Peter Anderson told the Observer they hope to soon begin sifting through the government's evidence.

"These cases rise and fall on the facts," said Anderson, who represents Donald Saxon. "Good lawyering is tracking down the facts and evaluating them."

The Saxons and Taylorsville photographer Glenn Fox were indicted this month and charged with conspiring to entice women to cross state lines to engage in prostitution and using the mail to distribute proceeds of an illegal activity.

The Saxons also are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with what federal authorities are calling an exclusive Internet-based prostitution service. The indictment alleges that prostitutes used hotels in the SouthPark and uptown areas. Sallie Saxon charged clients up to $700 an hour and generally allowed her prostitutes to keep 70 percent of the fees, the indictment says.

The charges against the Saxons and Fox carry maximum penalties ranging from five years to 20 years in prison. Most of the charges also are punishable by fines of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Cave said at a court hearing earlier this month that authorities secretly videotaped clients of the alleged prostitution ring as they arrived and left hotels. He said they also videotaped clients with prostitutes in the hotel lobbies.

Cave said Saxon kept detailed records of her activities and that authorities have client lists dating back many years. Prosecutors won't say if the prostitutes and clients will be targeted for prosecution. They also won't say if they intend to make public the names on the client lists.

Tin, who represents Sallie Saxon, won't say if he has copies of the client lists.

"I can't say anything about it," he said. "That's a very sensitive subject. Everybody wants to know who's on the list."

Sallie Saxon, 57, is being held in jail without bond pending her trial. Her son and lawyers have visited her at the jail.

Donald Saxon, 52, is free on $100,000 unsecured bond. He's under house arrest and is being monitored electronically. He's accused of picking up cash payments from prostitutes after their sessions with clients.

Fox, 58, is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond. He's accused of taking nude photos of the prostitutes.