I-Team: Explosive testimony in police corruption case

LAS VEGAS - Explosive testimony has been made public in connection with an FBI probe of police corruption.

A new witness has surfaced in a case related to the FBI investigation.

The testimony implicates multiple Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers in a bribery scheme related to illegal prostitution. One year and one week ago, the I-Team first reported that the FBI is investigating police corruption -- specifically targeting an elite unit at Metro created to take down big-time pimps.

The FBI will not comment or confirm the investigation, but we know it is ongoing because many of the same witnesses interviewed by agents have also given sworn statements to attorneys conducting parallel investigations on behalf of clients who were sent away for life.  

The latest motion filed in district court is a roadmap to this sordid saga, and provides a public glimpse of what the FBI has already learned.

"I'd ask that it be shut down now judge," said special prosecutor Adam Gill.

Four weeks ago, the I-Team and other parties were booted from a courtroom so that former vice detective Chris Baughman could be deposed under oath. Now, the I-Team knows what Baughman said, or rather, didn't say.

A transcript is included in a motion filed on behalf of convicted pimp Ocean Fleming.

Baughman was the lead detective in the case that sent Fleming away for life, but, the transcript shows, he refused to answer any questions related to the Fleming case. The former cop took the fifth dozens of times when asked about his former partner Detective Al Beas alleged sexual romps with prostitutes. When queried about taking money from escort service kingpin Jamal Rashid, aka Mally mall. When asked if he was present when prosecutor Liz Mercer allegedly coached witnesses into giving exaggerated testimony against defendants.

Baughman's refusal to answer questions is now a key argument made by Fleming's attorneys why Fleming deserves a new trial. The brief lays out a complicated scenario in which several Metro detectives in essence, worked as hired muscle for Mally Mall and took down rival pimps.

In a sworn affidavit, new witness Don Ramos, who spent 11 years as bodyguard and driver for Mally Mall, says under oath that he witnessed cash payoffs to Baughman and other Metro officers, as much as $10,000 a month, that Mally Mall had a hand in getting a three-book publishing deal for Baughman, that Baughman brought his teenage daughter to Mally Mall's home, and while the daughter was left to interact with prostitutes and rappers, Baughman would have sex with Mally Mall's working girls.

In 2010, Metro raided Mall's house, but someone tipped off the target, who left minutes before police arrived. Ramos says $100,000 in cash disappeared during the raid, which was led by Baughman. Four years later, the same house was targeted by the FBI public corruption team, which was the first hint the feds were investigating.

Another affidavit, from former prostitute Jessica Gruda, alleges that she was coaxed into giving false testimony against Ocean Fleming by Deputy District Attorney Liz Mercer, and that police convinced her that Fleming had taken out a contract on her life, a hit. By the time she got to court, Gruda says, she would have said whatever police wanted her to say.

Liz Mercer, who is now married to Baughman, declined to comment last month when approached outside the courthouse.

The court document outlines many of the allegations previously reported by the I-Team, and even cites our stories as exhibits, but the pages include many details that have not been made public, far too many to include in one news report. 


 


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