LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Ocean Fleming was convicted of sex trafficking in Las Vegas. He stands accused of being a prostitution kingpin and a man living off the earnings of prostitutes. He also qualifies under the new-ish federal rules against sex trafficking. Now attorneys representing Ocean Fleming are appealing his conviction on the argument that there’s corruption and misconduct in the Last Vegas Police Department.
What? He should be excused from 23 felonies because the cops were corrupt? Were the crimes committed or not? If evidence showed that the crimes were committed, and the fact remains that the man agreed to charges and pled guilty on most, why should he get a “get out of jail free” card?
In my mind, it shouldn’t work to anyone’s favor. Of course, the police officers, including two detectives and a lieutenant and the assistant district attorney, allegedly made some huge mistakes and committed crimes themselves. And they should be relentlessly prosecuted and punished accordingly. But that doesn’t excuse a pimp from being a pimp. And it doesn’t excuse another pimp who bribed the cops to go after pimp #1.
Doug Poppa of the Baltimore Post-Examiner brought to light an intriguing, and mostly disgusting, chain of events and levels of corruption only seen in movies or scripted TV shows, but these elements influenced the criminal justice system, police policies and procedures, and serve to devastate the opinions of the general public on police ethics.
I have so many questions. Fleming’s attorneys allege, based on court documents received by the Baltimore Post-Examiner several substantially catastrophic events and systems occurred and were in place.
Police officers, chiefs, sheriff’s deputies, and others have to be shaking their collective heads over the components of this scandal. Here is what is alleged, based on the records:
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Detective Chris Baughman was involved in a criminal conspiracy with “Mally Mall” (actual name is Jamal Rashid), a music producer and prostitution kingpin and competitor of Fleming.
- The FBI raided Rashid’s home in 2014 and did not include LVMPD on the raid.
- Detectives with the LVMPD, including Baughman, received monthly cash payments from Rashid and reciprocated by targeting Rashid’s competition in prostitution task force investigations. These tainted investigations included Ocean Fleming and were designed to eliminate Rashid’s competition.
- Detectives Chris Baughman and Al Beas were both having sexual relations with Jessica Gruda, the primary witness against Ocean Fleming.
- Detective Baughman was believed to be having romantic/sexual relations with the lead prosecutor during Fleming’s case, Assistant Clark County District Attorney Elizabeth Mercer. Mercer is Baughman’s current wife, by the way.
- Fleming’s attorneys also allege that Baughman was having romantic/sexual relations with his supervisor, Lt. Karen Hughes, who instituted the prostitution/pimp task force in 2008.
- A special prosecutor was appointed to oversee the remaining appeal and trial process, since the initial prosecutor and the lead detective were romantically involved.
- In an interesting twist, as this whole thing started unfolding in 2017, “Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo who runs the LVMPD told the media in April 2017 that his department was cooperating with an FBI federal corruption probe of some members of the LVMPD.That statement though seemed odd when juxtaposed with the fact that in 2017 the LVMPD hired attorneys to prevent the testimony of other detectives.”
- LVMPD attorney Jackie Nichols admitted in court in October 2017 that Baughman’s testimony in court would implicate other officers.
- “In May of 2018, Fleming accepted a plea deal based on the re-negotiation of his charges.That plea deal came on the eve of an evidentiary hearing that was scheduled so Fleming’s attorneys could question witnesses under oath, including police officers, a prosecutor, and prostitutes. When Fleming withdrew his appeal for a new trial and plead to the 3 criminal counts that ended what could have been some very interesting testimony concerning police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct. As part of the 2018 plea deal, 20 criminal counts were dismissed, and Fleming pleaded guilty to three counts; first-degree kidnapping and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.”
- “The police and prosecutorial corruption and misconduct committed by LVMPD Vice Detective Christopher Baughman and Prosecutor Elizabeth A. Mercer, and exposed through Ocean Fleming’s post-conviction proceeding, remains a blight on Nevada’s judicial system.”
Baltimore Post-Examiner has learned that notorious Las Vegas pimp, Ocean Fleming, who was convicted in August of 2012 of 23 counts including… https://t.co/Xz0HRwLjIO
— Humboldt AVA-CASA (@HumboldtAVACASA) May 13, 2018
As all of this has come to light and appeal processes have been pushed forward, several more unsavory points have surfaced:
- Two key witnesses, April Millard and Jessica Gruda, admitted that they lied in their statements and at trial because Detective Baughman and Prosecutor Mercer coached and coerced them to lie.
- The Vice detectives were having improper sexual or romantic relationships with the testifying witnesses, warning them which casino properties to avoid due to prostitution sweeps by Vice, renting cars for them or giving them money and never disclosed their relationship to the witnesses at Ocean Fleming’s trial.
- Detective Baughman asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, refusing to answer any question regarding his investigation and the prosecution of Ocean Fleming.
Again, I have so many questions. The police officer and citizen in me attests that Ocean Fleming is still very much guilty of human trafficking, kidnapping, and several other felony charges, and because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, will have his charges and actual time served greatly reduced. The fact still remains that he did everything he was charged with.
'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas'
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 22, 2019
Jamal Rashid, aka Mally Mall, lives through this whole process relatively unscathed. To target him now for the investigation of what the LVMPD knows he’s still doing could be seen as retribution or unfair. Rashid is not only just as guilty of the same crimes as Fleming, but the additional crimes of bribery and conspiracy.
In the end, everyone loses, especially the citizens of Las Vegas and the reputation of the LVMPD. One prostitution kingpin is still on the street and likely running his show; one is going to have a reduced sentence and likely go back to doing business and exploiting disadvantaged women; and the rank and file officers with the LVMPD have to deal with the horrible aftermath and regaining public trust – a commodity that is difficult, at best, to attain these days.