What did she see? An imperious man, Fanghella. Probing brown eyes; luxuriant brown hair. Gap-toothed, a tad pouty-mouthed. Natty, handsome, but more casual than rugged, one leg crossed over the other, torqued in anticipation like a man on the stand bearing testimony. An air of Napoleonic preoccupation, a trace of mistrust. So you’re a mortgage lender, Mister Fanghella?
They spent an hour together, Fanghella said, “talking, unusually interested in each other right away — admittedly quick but nevertheless true.” (Fanghella’s words are taken, as are Cook’s, from transcribed and videotaped depositions. Almost everything about their relationship is in dispute except a mutual lust for the high life.) Fanghella called Cook “thoughtful, sensitive.” While he had had “dozens of opportunities” to develop relationships with other escorts, Cook surprised him. He liked her vulnerability but believed she sold herself short. “She didn’t feel,” he said, “she had any other ability to gainfully make money if she didn’t go out as an escort or [be] in the porn industry.” Cook said of that first meeting that because she and Spagnola had broken up, she was “available,” i.e., escort-available. Cook said she wanted to accompany Fanghella that evening but had nothing appropriate to wear. Then we’ll shop, Fanghella replied. First, Luca Luca. A rabbit coat. Next, Bergdorf Goodman (where Cook had her sizes on file), shoes, a choker, earrings, a bracelet.
Cook said that from “the first day I met him, I liked him. He was a fun guy to hang out with. But I wasn’t romantic with him.” Did she and Fanghella have sex that first date? For the entire time she knew him, Cook said, “We never had intercourse.” Yes, she was “nude with him, maybe four or five times.” And yes, they would kiss and caress with no clothes on. But they never had sex. “And no, I didn’t have oral sex with him.” (One lawyer, wary of Bill Clinton’s notorious evasion, had asked.) Fanghella’s story? Sex, yes, “the next day,” he said: that was the point of hiring an escort.
That evening Fanghella, Cook, a retinue of “actors and their wives,” and his “entourage,” gourmands and a wine buyer, went to Café Boulud, where, awaiting the triumphal hour, they ate, drank, and danced. And, according to Cook, many went in pairs to a private bathroom where she saw “piles of cocaine” set out for “the Fanghella party.” Though Fanghella couldn’t recall if he had cocaine that night, he did remember that “our dinner was approximately $120,000. We had some significant wines. A Pétrus ’61, a 1900 Châteaux Margaux at the close.” The tip — Zagat, he noted, says one should leave 20 percent — was almost $30,000. As everyone knows, midnight clanged in zone by zone around the world, and nothing crashed. At 7:15 the next morning, Cook left the Palace and Fanghella slept. Later that day he flew back to Carlsbad.
Cook called Fanghella on January 4 from New York saying she wanted to see him. He told her he would fly her out to PinnFund headquarters and the pair would then take a private jet to Las Vegas for a long weekend. Cook agreed, but Fanghella insisted that their relationship would not be escort and date. He wanted to “date her regularly,” expressing remorse that he would be stiffing Nici’s of one of their girls. Cook agreed — no more star-for-hire once she arrived.
It was at this time, Cook said, that she told Fanghella about Charles Spagnola: he was the man she had lived with for almost two years. But, for now, they were not together. Fanghella recollected that she told him she and Spagnola were finished. Spagnola — a delicate, muted man, whose cheeks dimple and whose layered locks nestle thickly onto the collar of his Armani dress shirt — has admitted to being, all along, Cook’s boyfriend and attorney. He said that Fanghella visited their Laguna Niguel house in January and was shown the room, decorated in Barbie motifs, where Spagnola’s daughter stayed on weekends. Everywhere were pictures of Cook, Spagnola, and the daughter. “You’d have to be blind,” not to have seen it, Spagnola said.
In mid-January Cook and Fanghella went to Las Vegas again, where Cook was shocked to see a “violent fight” between him and an ex-girlfriend, Lee Ann. But still Cook and he and others partied, four days’ worth, in a suite at the Bellagio hotel. Next the pair went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Fanghella bought her two shearling coats, a pair of Ugg boots, an emerald ring, a tanzanite ring, and several drawings by John Lennon. Then came ski trips to Beaver Creek, Colorado, ski outfits, four fur coats, a gold rope chain, a portable DVD player. Returning to Southern California, Cook parked in her driveway a 1997 Jaguar XK8, the first of six cars Fanghella would give her over the next six months. (Later he’d present her with a new house with a new driveway in which to park those six cars.) Perhaps embarrassed by the bounty, Cook told him, “You don’t have to do this to have me hang around you.” But it thrilled him, she said, to flash the AmEx card whether she wanted the stuff or not. More than once he told her, “Kelly, I have more money than we could possibly spend in our lifetimes.”
The way Fanghella spent money seemed not Cook’s to question. Instead, she encouraged him: on a cute Care Bear card she wrote, “I love being around you. I think I may be a little boring for your full-time life but I would love to see what happens. The ball’s in your court, sweetie.” Cook, though, had little idea how many courts, let alone balls, Fanghella was juggling. Two problems were gnawing at him. The first, Patrice had discovered her husband’s fling with Cook and, fed up, filed for divorce. She wanted a large portion of the $182,000 a month that she, her husband, and their children had lived on in Rancho Santa Fe. To ensure alimony and her one-third share of PinnFund’s value, Patrice had a forensic accountant catalog her husband’s spending. One discovery was that Fanghella had not paid any income tax since 1995; in fact, his 1040 listed the self-described millionaire’s 1999 income as $36,000. Patrice also learned that the IRS had been investigating her husband since 1997, so she hired a tax attorney to defend herself.