Deep pockets lead to big trouble

Consider Mikel Hasen’s dilemma as he stood like a gatekeeper in gold chains at the threshold that separated Pure Nightclub from the endless line of customers aching to enter its upscale interior.

His occupation in 2006 was head doorman, a position as coveted at Pure as a Harvard fellowship out in the real world, and at his best Hasen was the Strip’s guru of the greased palm. But even a man of his considerable talents had his limits.

What was he to do with all the cash the velvet rope voyeurs were pressing into his hands in exchange for a pass into Pure’s world of loud dance music and wildly overpriced bottles of vodka?

Think of his nightly predicament: In a short time, his pockets bulged with greenbacks. Not merely crowded, but stuffed beyond capacity.

And so he was faced with a choice. Did he empty his pockets back in the office, thereby wasting precious time as the wrangler of the rope line? Did he pass his lucrative position to another, or stand his ground and face the prospect he’d soon have more cash than he could reasonably carry?

The bags of untaxed cash that Pure generated for its employees and investors didn’t exactly engender a lot of trust. All that money made for a feeding frenzy.

In the end, Hasen came up with a novel idea. If he had more cash than his pockets could hold, maybe it was time to get bigger pockets.

And the Las Vegas legend of “Mikey Long Pockets” was born.

As the corroborated story goes, Hasen contacted a local tailor and had the pockets of his suit trousers lengthened to accommodate the seemingly endless flow of cash. Whether it was 10s, 20s, 50s or 100s, the enterprising doorman literally possessed the deep pockets at Pure.

Hasen worked for Pure impresario Steve Davidovici, who in those days appeared to have the Las Vegas night life wired. This was before Davidovici, Hasen and some other Pure employees were whacked with tax charges as part of a $7 million tip-concealment scheme. Former Pure VIP hosts Ali “Sean” Olyaie and Richard Chu were the first to fall for failing to declare piles of tip income.

But when it came time for Hasen and the boss to settle up with the government, an intriguing thing happened. The underling pleaded guilty to a tax charge and was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson to a year and a day in prison. Davidovici, with an eye malady that generated great compassion from the normally tough-sentencing federal judge, was given eight months of home confinement and not a day in the slammer despite being the central figure in the scheme.

Add to Davidovici’s soft sentence the fact the judge’s own son, Brian Dawson, worked as a bartender at a club influenced by the Strip’s nightclub king, and suddenly there were more questions than answers in the case. The fact the judge also took it upon himself to interview a doctor associated with the defense only added to the intrigue.

Plenty of cash fit into Hasen’s pocket, but what exactly fit into Davidovici’s pocket?

Perhaps we’ll never know. But it’s no secret around the nightclub scene that the judge’s son made much of his “juice” with Davidovici.

These days, Department of Justice Tax Division trial attorneys Christopher Maietta and Joseph Rillotta are appealing the Davidovici sentence. The FBI is now investigating. A hearing in the matter eventually will take place.

But I want to know what Mikel Hasen thinks. After all, he’s the one who stood near Davidovici and quietly accepted a prison sentence while the boss got to stay home and watch TV.

Does Mikey Long Pockets also have a long memory?

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. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

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