EXCLUSIVE: Affidavits provide insight into Las Vegas FBI corruption probe of Las Vegas Metro Police Department - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

EXCLUSIVE: Affidavits provide insight into Las Vegas FBI corruption probe of Las Vegas Metro Police Department

LAS VEGAS — Affidavits filed in Clark County District Court in 2017 and 2018 by defense attorneys during the appeal for convicted Las Vegas sex trafficker Ocean Fleming, detail accounts of alleged police corruption by some officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and prosecutorial misconduct by an assistant district attorney in the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

Affidavit of April Millard

This Affidavit is being made regarding the false testimony I gave in the State of Nevada v. Ocean Fleming, Case No. C-11-276866-1. 

On October 29, 2016, I signed an affidavit admitting that my testimony in August 2012 against Ocean Fleming was false, that I was coerced by Detective Baughman and [Asst.] District Attorney Liz Mercer. 

As set forth in my October 2016 Affidavit, Ocean Fleming never held me against my will, never dragged me by my hair nor did he beat me with a belt.  Ocean Fleming also did not strangle me or “pistol whip” me.  I was previously interviewed by the F.B.I. and advised the special agents that I lied when I testified at Ocean’s trial.  I lied when I testified because Detective Baughman repeatedly threatened to put me in jail if I did not testify as he told me to and because Detective Baughman had me convinced that Ocean was going to hurt me.

Ocean Fleming arrest photo

Detective Baughman told me that Ocean had put out three “hits” against my life and showed me numerous photographs of body parts of women who had horrible injuries.  Detective Baughman convinced me that Ocean had beat up the women and that Ocean would hurt me as well.  I believed Detective Baughman because he was a police officer and I was a nineteen-year-old working prostitute who was addicted to cocaine.

In 2011, I reluctantly met with Detective Baughman at his insistence in order to get him to stop harassing my mother, Lisa Millard.  His constant phone calls were causing stress to my mother.  I met Detective Baughman at the Applebee’s restaurant in Henderson.  After Detective Baughman confirmed that I was April Millard, Detective Baughman told me that I “looked sexy”.  I had never met Detective Baughman until that day.  I found his comment inappropriate and disturbing.  Detective [Al]Beas and [Asst.] District Attorney Liz Mercer then arrived and the four of us sat at a booth.  Detective Baughman paid for the lemon drop margarita and meal that I ordered.  Detective Baughman brought a large file with him into Applebee’s, telling me that it was Metro’s [LVMPD] file on Ocean Fleming.  Detective Baughman told me that Ocean was going to prison, but that I was the “key” to putting Ocean away for life. 

At no point during that Applebee’s meeting did Detective Baughman record the interview or even ask me questions about Ocean. It was at this very first meeting that detective Baughman started pulling numerous photographs of body parts of injured women out of the file, placing them on the table, one by one. Detective Baughman told me that Ocean Fleming had caused the horrific injuries to the women in the photographs and that I would be next.  By the third photograph, I was crying.

As I looked at the photographs and listened to Detective Baughman tell me how dangerous Ocean was and that he would hurt me like Ocean had hurt the women in the photograph’s, I became increasingly afraid of Ocean.  I was also pregnant with ocean’s child at that time, suffering from hormonal pregnancy issues and still using cocaine. 

Both Detective Baughman and DA Mercer told me to exaggerate everything that had happened between me and Ocean and that the “worse” that I could make things sound the longer Ocean would be put away and the safer I would be.  Detective Baughman repeatedly told me that my life was in danger if I did not testify against Ocean.  Detective Baughman told me to say that Ocean had pistol-whipped me. Ocean Fleming never pistol-whipped me.  I never told detective Baughman that Ocean pistol whipped me.  Detective Baughman also told me to say that Ocean had beat me with a belt and belt buckle causing welts on my back.  I never had welts on my back from Ocean beating me with a belt buckle.

Detective Baughman and [Asst.] DA Mercer also told me that if I said that Ocean strangled me that they could put him away for a long time.  Ocean never strangled me.  I never told detective Baughman or [Asst.] DA Mercer that Ocean strangled me.  Detective Baughman neither recorded my statement nor had me fill out a written statement when we met at Applebee’s or even the next time we met. 

The next time I saw Detective Baughman was while I was incarcerated in the Clark County Detention Center.  Again, Detective Baughman did not record the interview but continued to tell me what I needed to say, again telling me to make it sound as “worse” as I could so that he could put Ocean away for a longer time. Only during the third meeting with Detective Baughman did he record the interview.  By this time, we had gone over exactly what I was to say when Detective Baughman started the tape recorder. 

The third meeting occurred while I was still incarcerated at the Clark County Detention Center.  I believe that this meeting occurred on November 29, 2011, based upon my reading of the transcript of the recording; however, I do not know the exact date given that I had been in jail for several weeks at that time. 

I lied in that recorded statement as well as during my trial testimony when I said that “I hit a lick” for $50,000.00 and gave the money to Ocean.  I never stole $50,000.00 from a “John”. 

From the first day I met Detective Baughman and continuing to after Ocean’s conviction, Detective Baughman knew that I continued to work as a prostitute.  In fact, Detective Baughman told me to let me know when I was working at any casino properties and he would give me the heads up on which property Metro’s Vice unit was operating a prostitution sting operation so that I could avoid being arrested again for prostitution.

In 2011, I started working and having a romantic/sexual relationship with Jamal Rashid (also known as Mally Mall).   Jamal owned a nation-wide “escort service”.  Following Ocean’s arrest, Jamal Rashid arranged for me to relocate to New York and later to New Jersey, providing me with an expensive car to drive and a condominium to live in.  Jamal would take a percentage of the money I earned from prostituting for his “escort service” to pay for the car and condo.  Jamal Rashid had me return to Las Vegas from New Jersey in August 2012 in order to testify against Ocean Fleming. 

Jamal and his driver/bodyguard, Don Ramos, picked me up in Jamal’s white Maybach at the airport and drove me to Jamal’s house on Oquendo where I stayed the night with Jamal.  Jamal kept numerous copies of detective Baughman’s books in his bedroom.  The night I stayed there before testifying, Jamal brought put the books and said that he had helped detective Baughman with his books.  Jamal told me to say and do whatever Detective Baughman told me. 

With respect to my testimony at trial and as I stated in my 2016 Affidavit, I ran out of the house and to my neighbor’s car because I knew that Ocean had learned that I had been doing drugs for three days and that I might be pregnant with his child.  Ocean Fleming and I had previously talked about how dangerous it was for a baby for its mother to be taking drugs during the pregnancy. Ocean had grown up around babies that were addicted to drugs and had watched the babies going through withdrawals. Ocean did not want his child to be addicted to drugs.  I knew that Ocean was going to be angry with me and I did not want to hear it and I did not want to stop doing drugs.  After I got into Ocean Fleming’s car, we drove to the drug store and purchased a pregnancy test.  I was pregnant but later had an abortion in California. 

Affidavit of Don Ramos

From 2005 to 2016 I worked as a driver and bodyguard for Jamal Rashid aka “Mally Mall”.  Starting in 2010, I would drive Mally Mall to meet with several Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers.  Mally Mall told me that he was “going to see a cop” on these occasions. Mally Mall would meet the LVMPD officers at different locations, including but not limited to one of the police officer’s home, the Tryst nightclub and parking lots. 

Prior to meeting with the police officers, Mally Mall would instruct me to take out cash from Mally Mall’s home or business, VIP Escort Services, or ask me for money that I had on my person.  Mally Mall would then take the cash with him when he met with the police officers and would return from the meetings without the cash.  On some occasions, the police officers would simply climb into the back seat of Mally Mall’s Maybach, while I was sitting in the driver’s seat, in order to receive the cash payments.

Although the amount Mally Mall paid to the police officers varied, I was aware that at least one monthly payment to the police officers was Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00).  Mally Mall’s personal assistant and business manager, Jennifer Paonie, told me that Mally Mall was conspiring with the police officers to set up Ocean Fleming to be arrested.  Following Ocean Fleming’s arrest, Jennifer Paonie stated to me: “I told you so”.  Upon information and belief, Mally Mall provided information to the police officers about Ocean Fleming for the purpose of setting up Ocean Fleming on criminal charges, including but not limited to providing the names and information about women with whom Ocean Fleming was involved with for the police officers to contact.

I was aware of at least three police officers that Mally Mall met with and gave cash payments: “Jessie”, “Black Sarge” and detective Christopher Baughman.  I saw Detective Baughman visit Mally Mall’s home on Oquendo Road in Las Vegas numerous times, even bringing his teenage daughter to hang out with the rappers and prostitutes who socialized in the home recording studio. Detective Baughman would leave his daughter in the recording studio while he went into the main house with Mally Mall.  While in the main house, Detective Baughman would engage in sexual relationships with certain prostitutes working for Mally Mall, including but not limited to “Star” and “Savanna”.

Mally Mall told me that he helped Detective Baughman with the Baughman books relating to pandering and prostitution and that he helped Baughman get his books published.  Mally Mall kept numerous copies of Detective Baughman’s books at the Oquendo house.  The books were stacked on a mirrored serving tray that sat atop a round ottoman in Mally Mall’s bedroom. 

Upon information and belief, Mally Mall sent one of the women Ocean Fleming was involved with, April Millard, to work for Mally Mall’s New York and New Jersey escort services after Ocean Fleming was arrested.   Days before Ocean Fleming’s trial, Mally Mall sent me to pick up April Millard from the airport and bring her to Mally Mall’s home where April Millard spent the night with Mally Mall. The next day, at approximately 4:00 p.m., I drove April Millard to Mally Mall’s residence at the Palm’s Place.  I later learned that Mally Mall had brought April Millard back to Las Vegas to testify against Ocean Fleming at his trial. 

In 2010, at approximately 8 a.m., LVMPD raided Mally Mall’s Oquendo house as well as Mally Malls business, VIP Escort Services.  I was not present at the time of the raid, having left the Oquendo house sometime before 8:00 a.m. Affiant left work that morning because Mally Mall had unexpectedly, unusually and abruptly left the Oquendo house without having me drive him after receiving a phone call.  Mally Mall refused to tell me where he was going after Mally Mall had received a phone call.  Due to Mally Mall’s strange behavior and refusal to talk to me, I got mad at Mally Mall and went home. 

Earlier on the morning of that raid of the Oquendo house, I had transported money from Mally Mall’s office to the Oquendo house safe, an amount totaling approximately One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).  At the time of the raid, the One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.0) would have been in the safe at Mally Mall’s Oquendo house.  Mally Mall told me that the LVMPD had raided the property and that the money and guns had been confiscated.  LVMPD also confiscated computers from Mally Mall’s house during the 2010 raid. Located on the computers were records about Mally Mall’s prostitution business, including but not limited to “call sheets” for the prostitutes who worked at VIP Escort Services.  Due to the complex nature of the financial agreements with each of the prostitutes, the computers contained spreadsheets of the different splits.  Upon information and belief, those computers were never returned to Mally Mall.

Affidavit of Jessica Gruda

I was a primary witness in the prosecution of Ocean Fleming.  Prior and after meeting Ocean Fleming, I worked as a prostitute for several escort services in Las Vegas.  In 2011, I met with two Metro detectives, Christopher Baughman and Albert Beas.  The detectives arranged for me to meet with them for the first time in their car at the parking lot of an elementary school. At this first meeting, the Detectives did not tape record or otherwise document our discussion. 

Detective Baughman brought with him to this first meeting a very large file with him that he told me was evidence he had against Ocean Fleming, my boyfriend, and pimp.  Detective Baughman pulled photographs from the file of women who had extensive physical injuries.  Detective Baughman told me that Ocean Fleming had hurt all of the women in the photographs and that Ocean would hurt me too.  Given that these were police officers who were telling me that Ocean Fleming had hurt these women and given the photographs of what were significant injuries to the women, I believed Detective Baughman and Beas and became afraid of Ocean Fleming and agreed to provide information to the Detectives.

The Detectives asked me to return home to the house on Tall Rough that I shared with my roommate, nanny, and friend Sarah Davey. Ocean Fleming had helped me rent the Tall Rough house.  The Detectives knew that Ocean did not live in the house with me, that only Sarah, me and my daughter lived in the house.  During the months that I rented the Tall Rough house, Ocean only stayed overnight with me a couple of times.  During the time I knew Ocean, I knew he lived at his mother’s house.  I told Detectives Baughman and Beas that Ocean did not live with me and Sarah Davey in the Tall Rough house. 

The Detectives also asked me to resume my relationship with Ocean Fleming and pretend like I did not know about what they told me about Ocean hurting the women in the photographs.  The Detectives wanted me to resume my relationship with Ocean so that I could provide information to them about Ocean.

At the time I met Detectives Baughman and Beas, the Detectives both knew that I was working as a prostitute.  In exchange for helping the Detectives to prosecute Ocean Fleming, Detective Baughman and Beas offered and, on many occasions, did tell me which casino properties to avoid prostituting at because other police officers would be conducting prostitution sweeps.

The Detectives also knew that I was taking methamphetamine during this time period, 2011 and continuing through 2012. From 2011 to 2012, prior to me testifying against Ocean Fleming at trial, I became sexually involved with Detective Al Beas after he expressed interest in me.  I was not romantically nor sexually interested in Detective Beas but treated him as one of my paying customers.  Detective Beas gave me $400.00 in cash at one point and paid for a rental car for me while we were sexually involved.

On two separate occasions, Ocean Fleming and I got into physical fights.  I advised the Detectives of these fights.  Due to the fact that I was taking drugs daily during 2011 and 2012, I did not recall the specific details of the fights.  When I testified against Ocean Fleming, the two fights were merged into one event.  Prior to testifying, I met with the Detectives and [Asst.] DA Liz Mercer, to prepare my testimony for trial.  I never told the Detectives nor the prosecuting DA, Liz Mercer, that Ocean Fleming put his hands around my throat to strangle me. 

[Asst.] DA Mercer told me that Ocean would have had to have his hands around my throat when he dragged me out of Sarah Davey’s bedroom.  DA Mercer told me that if I testified that Ocean had put his hands around my throat, strangling me, that she could put him away for a longer time and that I would not have to worry about Ocean ever getting out of prison and to hurt me.  I testified at trial that Ocean strangled me during the ‘Fight”.  At the time I testified, I had no recollection of Ocean ever strangling me.  After Ocean was arrested in 2011, but prior to me testifying against him in 2012, Detectives Baughman and Beas told me that they had information that while Ocean was in the Clark County Detention Center waiting trial, that he had a hit out against me to kill me.  The Detectives showed me a handwritten piece of paper with my name and my social security number on it as proof of the “hit” that Ocean had taken out against me.  I believed the Detectives when they told me that they knew Ocean was trying to kill me to prevent me from testifying against him.  The Detectives and DA Mercer told me that I had to testify against Ocean in order to keep myself and my daughter safe.

Affidavit of Sarah Davey

I was the roommate, nanny and best friend of Jessica Gruda at the time that Ocean Fleming was arrested.  Earlier this year [2017] I was questioned by Metro as well as the FBI with respect to the investigation into the improper conduct of detectives Beas and Baughman, including the sexual relationship between Detective Beas and Jessica Gruda prior to Ocean Fleming’s trial and conviction.  I submitted to a lie detector test requested by Metro regarding the officers and these events relating to Ocean Fleming’s arrest and conviction. 

I was the only other person present at the time of the physical altercation between Jessica Gruda and Ocean Fleming, as it happened in my bedroom and directly in front of me at the Tall Ruff house in which Jessica and I lived at the time.  No Metro officer nor any representative of the District Attorney’s Office ever contacted me regarding the events giving rise to the Ocean Fleming prosecution prior to Ocean’s arrest or conviction. 

If Metro or the DA’s office had interviewed me, I would have told them that at no time during the physical altercation did Ocean Fleming put his hands around Jessica Gruda’s throat to strangle her.  I would have also told Metro and the DA’s office that Jessica Gruda was heavily addicted to methamphetamine at the time of the events and when she testified and that her use of drugs significantly affected her memory and recollection of events. 

Jessica Gruda told me that Detectives Baughman and Beas and the DA told her what to testify to in order to insure that Ocean was put away for as long as possible.  The Detectives and the DA told her that if Jessica testified that Ocean put his hands around her throat and was strangling her, that they could put him away for more time. 

As the only eyewitness to the physical altercation between Jessica and Ocean, I know that Ocean did not place his hand around Jessica’s throat and was not strangling Jessica.  Jessica told me that she testified as the DA and Detectives requested even though she could not remember the actual details of the physical altercation.  Jessica told me that the Detectives showed her a huge file that the detectives represented was evidence their case against Ocean Fleming, including photographs of women with significant injuries that the Detectives stated that Ocean caused. 

The Detectives also told Jessica that there was video on YouTube of a woman being injured by Ocean and that Ocean had taken a “hit” against Jessica while he was in jail before his trial.  Jessica and I later searched repeatedly for this YouTube video, but no such video exists.

Authors Note:  Allegations were raised by Ocean Fleming’s attorney’s that Asst. Clark County District Attorney, Elizabeth Mercer was having a romantic/sexual relationship with her chief witness, Detective Chris Baughman at the time of Fleming’s trial and whom she later married.

Serious allegations of corruption have been raised.

Protection payments to police officers from a sex trafficker, police targeting rival pimps, obstruction of justice, coercion of witnesses and suborning perjury to name just a few.

Baughman is no longer employed by the LVMPD.  Detective Al Beas is still employed by the LVMPD but was reassigned out of the Vice unit. Asst. District Attorney Elizabeth Mercer is still employed by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

In October 2017 Baughman was deposed in Clark County District Court Judge Michael Villani’s courtroom. Baughman exercised his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination when questioned about the Ocean Fleming case.

No charges have been filed against anyone as of this date.

The FBI is conducting a corruption probe into some members of the LVMPD that started in 2014.

Several sources who spoke to the Baltimore Post-Examiner recently have stated that they believe federal indictments may be forthcoming soon from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, against persons yet unknown.

This past Monday, Ocean Fleming who has been in prison since 2012, agreed to a plea deal resulting from a re-negotiation of his charges and withdrew his appeal for a new trial. Twenty-three charges were reduced to three counts.  Sentencing is scheduled for July. He could be credited for time served and released from prison.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has not provided an explanation to the public on that.

Stay tuned.

 


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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