Woman used as bait in escort scam pleads guilty to robbery charge

A Red Deer woman offered as the lure in an escort scheme will be sentenced in March after pleading guilty to a single count of robbery. Lindsey Rae Mazzei, 32, and two male suspects were arrested in B.C. on June 13, 2013, as the result of an investigation of complaints in Red Deer that men attempting to hire escort services were beaten and robbed instead.

A Red Deer woman offered as the lure in an escort scheme will be sentenced in March after pleading guilty to a single count of robbery.

Lindsey Rae Mazzei, 32, and two male suspects were arrested in B.C. on June 13, 2013, as the result of an investigation of complaints in Red Deer that men attempting to hire escort services were beaten and robbed instead.

Mazzei was set for trial on eight charges by judge alone in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday, represented by defence counsel Patty MacNaughton.

However, a charge of armed robbery was reduced to robbery and other charges, including extortion, kidnapping and identity theft, were withdrawn as a result of her last-minute guilty plea.

Reciting an agreed statement of facts, Crown prosecutor Carolyn Ayre told Justice Kirk Sisson that a visiting businessman was looking for escort services while staying at a Red Deer hotel on June 12, 2013.

He phoned a number that he found online and arranged to meet with a woman at a downtown apartment building.

On his way there, the victim withdrew $500 from a banking machine, expecting to pay $300 for the services he had arranged.

A woman met him at the building’s fire escape, but she then left and two masked and armed men appeared, said Ayre.

He was robbed of his wallet, cellphone, bank cards, cash and car keys, and forced to give up the PIN numbers on his cards, she said.

Mazzei confirmed for Sisson that she had disposed of the cellphone and told him she also got rid of the cards.

Sentencing was adjourned to March 6 to allow time for preparation of a pre-sentence report.

She was released from custody earlier.

Also arrested with Mazzei were Florian Edward Poitra, of Innisfail, and Mark William Bitterman, of no fixed address.

Poitra, 32, was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty to his role in the escort scheme on Oct. 13, 2013.

Bitterman, 32, is awaiting trial on the charges.

Bitterman is also scheduled for a preliminary hearing in January on a charge of first-degree murder. The charge was laid after Bitterman’s arrest in B.C. by Red Deer RCMP investigating the death of former Eckville resident Curtis Leroy Rangen, 43.

Rangen’s body was found in a freezer at his Red Deer apartment on May 3, 2013.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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