Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2019

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Heart Transplant Recipient Sentenced to Prison

Michael Washington pleaded no contest in January to one count of pandering and one count of possessing a credit card number without the owner's consent. Both are felonies.

In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors agreed to the dismissal of numerous other charges. They included one count of solicitation for murder, 40 counts of living off the earnings of a prostitute, and several charges that involve the fraudulent use of credit cards and cellular phones.

Authorities have described Washington's Las Vegas business, Swinging Suzy's Dancers and Entertainers, as a front for prostitution. Washington has denied those allegations.

Washington, 48, gained international attention in 1984 when he received Hexum's heart after the actor died in a gun accident on the set of the television show "Cover Up."

Washington has also undergone a kidney transplant.

A district judge dismissed pandering charges against Washington in November 1994 after ruling that the heart operation had left the defendant medically unfit to stand trial.

Defense attorney Herbert Sachs said his client's prognosis remains uncertain.

"Right now he doesn't seem to be sick," the attorney said Monday. "He seems to be healthy."

In 1988 Washington served 10 months in prison for violating the terms of probation after a tax-fraud conviction.

Prosecutors later claimed Washington used the credit card numbers of his customers at Swinging Suzy's and programmed them onto the magnetic strips of other cards, and that he cloned cellular phones to gain free phone time.

Washington faced up to 13 years behind bars at his sentencing Monday, but District Judge James Brennan opted to follow the recommendation of prosecutors and officials with the state Department of Parole and Probation in handing down the shorter sentence.