LAS VEGAS - Tawdry takes spilled out into a Las Vegas courtroom Thursday morning, in a case related to an investigation of police corruption.
District court Judge Michael Villani ordered Metro police turn over its internal files about four detectives who were once part of the department's anti-pimp enforcement team.
As the I-Team has reported, the FBI's public integrity team has been investigating the former vice cops, and Thursday's legal tussle is an offshoot of that probe.
Things turned salacious in court. The argument in court involves one of three separate legal actions stemming from the FBI investigation into former vice cop Chris Baughman. Attorneys for convicted pimp Ocean Fleming want to see Metro's internal files on Baughman and three of his Metro colleagues. Fleming's attorneys unveiled some shocking allegations.
"These officers were sleeping with witnesses before and during the trials," said defense attorney Janiece Marshall.
She says she took no pleasure in spilling the secrets that reverberated in the courtroom Thursday morning. Marshall, a former judge, represents Ocean Fleming, a convicted pimp serving a life term. The key witness in Fleming's case was his victim, a prostitute named Jessica Gruda.
According to an affidavit filed by Gruda's roommate Sarah Davey, during the months that a case was being put together against Ocean Fleming, two vice detectives had ongoing sexual relationships with Gruda. Star vice cop Chris Baughman, who is the focus of an FBI corruption investigation has had similar allegations made against him in other pimp cases.
According to Sarah Davey, Baughman's partner Detective Al Beas also made regular visits to the apartment.
"She estimated that with respect to Detective Beas, it was at least 14 occasions. She knew when it was Detective Beas coming over because she had to take a shower. She wore no makeup to get on him because he was married," Marshall said.
In the affadavit, Davey says the FBI interviewed her earlier this year and she submitted to a polygraph exam. Marshall told the court that Baughman bragged to colleagues during the Fleming trial that he was also sexually involved with the prosecutor of the case, Deputy District Attorney Liz Mercer. And he expressed a sexual attraction for his boss, Vice Lt. Karen Hughes.
According to Marshall, after other officers complained about a perceived relationship between Hughes and Baughman, the Lt. called a meeting and ordered the gossip to stop. But after Fleming was convicted, Marshall says, Hughes and Baughman traveled together to New York to talk to a movie producer about possible film projects based on their cases. While working for vice, Baughman wrote two books about his cases and was working on a third.
"There was a financial motive by Detective Baughman and others in the vice unit to develop the big cases in order to market the books and promote a movie," Marshall said.
Judge Michael Villani says he is primarily interested in seeing any evidence that Baughman or anyone else coached or scripted testimony by the witnesses against Fleming. although the attorney for Metro opposed turning over the files, the court said he wants to see the material in 30 days.
The defense is asking for internal Metro files on Chris Baughman and Karen Hughes, both of whom no longer work for Metro, and files on Detective Warren Gray and Detective Al Beas, who recently returned to Metro after a multi-week suspension but no longer works in vice.
The FBI does not confirm the existence of any investigation, and no charges have been filed against anyone named in this.