As a successful businessman, Micah Duncan traveled in style and lived in upscale neighborhoods around the Las Vegas Valley.
And I do mean style. Although he favored Bentleys worth more than many people's homes, for a while Duncan could also be spotted riding around in a Maybach worth more than $335,000.
On one end of town, Duncan stayed in the historic and upscale Scotch 80s neighborhood on Bannie Avenue. On the east end, he lived high inside ritzy Lake Las Vegas.
He didn't stay there alone, of course. Metro Vice knew him as the pimp "Wheelchair Mike," and his girls were never far from his side. While he lived in neighborhoods filled with the families of doctors, lawyers and politicians, his girls hustled out of strip clubs.
But that's Las Vegas, where the under belly is rarely far from the upper crust.
These days, Duncan no longer enjoys the finer rides into the better neighborhoods. He is the first pimp to go down hard on income tax evasion charges, thanks to the cooperative effort between the Metro Vice Section and the IRS Criminal Investigation unit.
Back in December 2010, I told you about the multi-agency plan to scrub notorious local pimps from the landscape in a meaningful way -- by hitting them in their diamond-studded bankrolls. The new approach began as an attempt to raise the heat on the sexual exploiters by increasing the price of doing business to include federal tax crimes. Unlike the typical pimp-prostitute sting scenario, which often finds the intimidated working girls unwilling to testify against their bosses, tax cases are lifestyle and paper trail oriented.
That brought IRS Special Agent in Charge Paul Camacho together with Metro Vice Section Lt. Karen Hughes and her crew of dialed-in street detectives, who had grown tired of seeing pimps exploit their girls and remain on the street. If pandering charges were hard to make because of a lack of willing witnesses, then it was time to bring in the Tax Man.
"We know they're not filing tax returns for their ill-gotten gain," Hughes said. "It's an area the IRS can really sink its teeth into. I think it will be just another tool that we as an agency and Vice in particular can use to combat prostitution in Las Vegas. Clearly, the federal statutes call for much more serious time and fines than the state statutes normally do. Any time you can get a very prolific pimp tried in the federal system, it's great."
As a general rule, pimps don't spend a lot of time filling out 1099s and W-2s. In a signed plea deal, arranged with the advice of defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, Duncan admitted to evading his taxes and using third-party fronts and nominees to lease fancy vehicles and homes. He agreed he owes $187,965 in back taxes, another $46,800 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. He also agreed to plead guilty as a felon in possession of a firearm.
But, oh, how he spent it while he had it. IRS agents calculated that from 2007-2010 Duncan dished out approximately $809,000 in cash for vehicle and residential lease payments.
Duncan was also hit with a civil forfeiture that netted his expensive Breitling watch, a 55-carat diamond tennis necklace, two semi-automatic pistols, a ballistic vest (the life of a pimp is complicated), and just under $10,000 in cash.
He technically faces up to five years for tax evasion and 10 years each on the Social Security theft and firearms possession charges, but Duncan's plea deal calls for as few as 18 months with three years of supervised release. The agreement was reached by U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob W. MacDonald.
With more cases in the works, the cooperation between Metro and the IRS is starting to pay dividends -- finally at the expense of pimps like Micah Duncan.
After all that high living, let's just hope Duncan makes the adjustment to his downscale surroundings and creature comforts.
John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.