I-Team: FBI investigation against former vice detective widens

LAS VEGAS - An FBI investigation into possible corruption involving a former vice detective appears to be widening.  The existence of the FBI probe was first revealed last year by the 8 News NOW I-Team.

The focus of the agency's investigation was former Metro Detective Chris Baughman.  However, now it appears there are at least two other possible targets.
   
There haven't been any charges filed against Baughman or anyone else connected to the case, and at this point, it's unclear if any ever will be leveled. 

Here's what is clear: Agents are now asking questions about other law enforcement figures who worked with Baughman in putting away some of the most notorious pimps in Vegas' history.

"People are coming out to me organically because they've seen me on the news," said Arman Izadi, a former local nightclub promoter.

Things are looking up for Izadi, the self-described party animal and promoter was living large for a few years.  He was a king of the local nightclub scene, and he was always accompanied by packs of beautiful women.

However, it all came to an end when Izadi became the target of star Vice Detective Chris Baughman's pimp enforcement team. Izadi was arrested and accused of kidnapping, torture and many other crimes. 

He spent 20 months in jail, but while awaiting trial, he saw the most serious charges dropped once his lawyers started asking questions about Baughman.

Izadi, who now manages high-end vacation rentals, has slowly been allowed to re-enter some of his old haunts and has even written a screenplay about his rise and fall, which he describes as the "Wolf of Wall Street meets "The Hangover." In his screenplay, Izadi says his character gets taken down by a crooked cop, but in real life, Izadi says he was questioned by FBI agents.

"It's not like they tell me anything, right. They ask me questions, and naturally, someone asks you questions, you learn what their interests are," Izadi said.

From what he could determine, Izadi said the FBI is no longer gathering information about Baughman. They're casting a wider net.

"They're the Public Corruption's Team, so I don't think for them it's about one dirty cop," according to Izadi.  "It's about how far does this corruption go?  Who else is involved?"

Izadi's attorney Michael Cristalli says he advised his client not to repeat what the FBI may have said to him, but Cristalli also acknowledged that dominos are starting to fall because of what Izadi's case set into motion. In fact, defense lawyers in town are abuzz about what it could mean for dozens of cases.

"I think it's more than a scandal," Cristalli said.  "I think ultimately, it affects every case they were involved with.  I mean that certainly justifies an investigation to determine whether or not there was any corruption in those cases."

In a complaint he filed with metro internal affairs and the FBI, Izadi alleges that Detective Baughman was romantically involved with women who allegedly were victims of Izadi. The same allegations are also being made by Raymond Sharpe and Ocean Fleming, two other men serving life sentences for pimping and kidnapping. 

Sharpe was in court earlier in March seeking a new trial because he says Detective Baughman had a sexual relationship with a prostitute who became a chief witness against Sharpe.  As proof, Sharpe's attorney introduced dozens of intimate text messages between the woman and Baughman.

Sharpe's attorney says FBI agents came to the prison to meet with his client.  Agents also met with another inmate, convicted pimp Ocean Fleming, who has filed his own appeal.

Fleming's appeals are on the same grounds as Sharpe's.  Both appeals list the same names, and they mention other law enforcement officers, including  Baughman's former partner, Vice Detective Al Beas and former Intelligence Detective Warren Gray. 

Sharpe and Fleming also complained about Deputy D.A. Liz Mercer, the chief prosecutor in their cases.  These days Mercer is married to Baughman. 

Fleming recently gave a recorded interview via a prison phone line to filmmaker Michael Mavoy and confirmed that he's met with the FBI.

It's way bigger than Chris Baughman," said Fleming. 
"It's way bigger. Now, he's the head of the snake, and we all know when you cut the head off, the body will fall.  There's other individuals who haven't been named.  There were things they couldn't tell me because I didn't have a lawyer, but you know everything they see on TV, everything on 8 News NOW with the George Knapp investigation, all of this information that's been uncovered about Detective Baughman and Liz Mercer, I was saying this six years ago."

Deputy D.A. Mercer still works for the District Attorney's Office, but is no longer handling sex crime cases.  She is not suspected of any crimes.

Detective Warren Gray has been transfered out of Metro Intelligence.  Detective Al Beas no longer works as a vice detective.

A new captain and lieutenant were recently appointed to oversee Metro's Vice.

Chris Baughman left Metro a few years ago and tried to get re-hired but they said no.

 


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