I-Team: Former vice cop's alleged behavior could jeopardize cases

LAS VEGAS -  A two-year investigation by the FBI and IRS into the lucrative but dangerous prostitution racket in Las Vegas has yet to produce indictments but the end may be drawing near.

What's unusual about this probe is that a main target is a former vice cop who gained a national reputation for busting notorious pimps.

The I-Team first broke this story last year.

Former vice detective Chris Baughman wrote in one of his books that he knew he needed to be careful not to be tempted by the dark side. 

Don't become what you're fighting, he warned himself. But federal lawmen suspect that's precisely what happened, that Baughman took advantage of the crime victims who came to him for help.

Back when he was a star, vice Detective Chris Baughman characterized himself as "one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse" ready to unleash "malevolent fury" on Las Vegas pimps. Hyperbole aside, Baughman's team succeeded in bagging a rogue's gallery of violent mac daddy types, men who tortured and terrorized the women under their control.

Baughman's face became a fixture on newscasts and front pages. In two books, he authored, Baughman credited the victims, frightened and vulnerable working gals, whose trust and testimony were crucial in putting their pimps behind bars.

"I am here, placed by God", Baughman wrote ... like "a figure from Greek mythology"... "to protect every daughter." But federal investigators and others now suspect Baughman crossed way over the line.

"It's safe to say that during the course of our discussions, Chris Baughman's name came up," said Michael Cristalli, defense attorney.

Cristalli learned about Baughman's alleged indiscretions while representing outcall owner and former nightclub promoter Arman Izadi, who was targeted by Las Vegas Metro Police vice and the IRS. 

Izadi was arrested by Baughman in 2013, five months after a woman accused him of beating and torturing her and forcing her to work as a prostitute. He spent 20 months in jail awaiting trial and faced life in prison.

After his lawyers raised pointed questions about Baughman and the evidence in the case, 19 of the 20 most serious charges were dropped.

"So, you have to ask yourself, what would cause a prosecution to fall apart on that respect, if they really truly believed the alleged victims' allegations? Cristalli said.

Izadi and his legal team think Baughman had sexual relations with the women who agreed to testify in the case, which is viewed as a serious breach by a police officer. Metro Police reached the same conclusion.

When Baughman left the force for a TV show then tried to return, he admitted having relationships with numerous prostitutes in high-profile cases he worked, according to police sources.

Metro has complied with information requests from FBI agents now investigating Baughman. The I-Team has learned that federal agents interviewed Baughman's former co-workers at vice and have reviewed his books to look for clues.

A major concern is what might happen to other convictions. One man targeted by Baughman is a convicted panderer named Darrell Krahmer, who told the I-Team by phone that Baughman seduced a woman who worked for Krahmer and testified against him. Krahmer says Baughman then introduced the woman to an outcall operator named Mally Mall, whose home was raided by the FBI's public corruption team in 2014.

Baughman's friendship with Mally Mall is what first alerted Metro that Baughman might have stepped over the line.

Two other high-profile targets of Baughman's team Anthony Smith, the focus of Baughman's first book, and Ocean Fleming, have also reportedly raised the question of whether Baughman slept with witnesses in their cases.

As for Arman Izadi.

"I just want to tell my story," Izadi said.

He isn't waiting for the FBI and IRS to act. He recently filed a civil rights complaint with the FBI and was questioned by agents about Baughman. Izadi also filed an internal affairs complaint with Metro, alleging that Baughman and other vice officers manufactured evidence in his case.

"If the truth can finally come out that this guy set me up, that he can get some justice," Izadi said."

Law enforcement sources say federal investigators have looked at other officers who worked with Baughman to see if they may have committed offenses. Two years after the probe began, no charges have been filed against Baughman or anyone else and the FBI said it cannot comment.

 


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