Some of the most notorious pimps in Las Vegas’ history have asked for new trials based on allegations of police misconduct. The 8 News NOW I-Team first reported last year that the FBI’s political corruption team had been investigating a former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police vice detective by the name of Chris Baughman.
Baughman is suspected of having romantic relationships with several women who became witnesses in the cases against those pimps. Now, at least two of the men who were targeted by Detective Baughman have asked for new trials.
Both men are serving life sentences. Handwritten appeals by inmates typically get tossed by courts, but the 234-page appeal filed by convicted pimp Ocean Fleming has a chance of leading to a new trial.
Fleming was accused of beating and terrorizing prostitutes who worked for him, and in 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison. One of the witnesses who testified against him was Baughman, a Metro detective at the time who led a special team that targeted pimps.
In Fleming’s case, as in others, the testimony of the victims was critical to the prosecution.
“We will use those victims to get a conviction of him,” Baughman told the I-Team in an old interview.
Baughman’s credibility is now a central issue in Fleming’s appeal. In court filings are notes sent by Fleming to his attorney back in 2012, in which he alleges that Baughman had been having sexual relationships with prostitutes.
“Baughman is crooked,” Fleming asserted back then. Fleming accused the prosecutor of the case, Deputy D.A. Liz Mercer of coaching the witnesses.
But, Fleming says, his attorney did not pursue the allegations during his defense. Law enforcement sources told the I-Team that Fleming was recently interviewed by FBI agents from the Public Corruption Team.
The FBI has also reportedly met in the last few months with Raymond Sharpe, another pimp serving a life sentence. Sharpe was convicted in 2012 in a case investigated by Baughman; Mercer also prosecuted Sharpe.
Sharpe’s appeal contains evidence which could end up helping Fleming. There are a series of 140 text messages that was exchanged between Detective Baughman and a prostitute named Alisha Grundy. She was the primary witness who testified against Sharpe.
Sharpe and Fleming both say the texts prove Baughman had a romantic relationship with the witness. In some of the text messaged Baughman called Grundy beautiful, angel and princess. He also told her he loved her.
So, why is it such a serious matter for a police officer to become involved with a witness?
“That is where the witness loses objectivity, and the credibility of the witness is gravely compromised,” Defense Attorney Vincent Savarese said.
Savarese and Michael Cristalli are not sideline observers; they represent Arman Izadi, a former nightclub promoter and outcall licensee who was also busted by Baughman. Izadi is charged with beating and torturing prostitutes.
Izadi spent 20 months behind bars awaiting trial and faced a possible life sentence, but then suddenly, the most serious charges were all dropped.
Izadi and his lawyers think one reason for that is because Baughman was allegedly involved with one of the key witnesses in Izadi’s case as well.
“My understanding was that I was set up; that this guy was sleeping with my girls that were involved in accusing me,” Izadi said.
Izadi confirmed to the I-Team that he was questioned by FBI agents about Baughman, and about other law enforcement personnel as well. While investigating Izadi’s story, the I-Team learned that Baughman is now married to Prosecutor Mercer, which is a point mentioned in the appeals filed by both Fleming and Sharpe.
At least two other convicted pimps are reportedly in the process of filing appeals on similar grounds. A hearing is set for Wednesday morning on motions filed in Sharpe’s appeal.
The D.A.’s office is opposed to a new trial, noting that charges weren’t filed against Detective Baughman and that Sharpe is “grasping at straws.”