courtesy of Facebook
Published Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 | 1:21 p.m.
Updated Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 | 1:10 a.m.
Up until Thursday, CLS Transportation owner Charles Horky's life appeared to be the epitome of an American success story.
He began his company with one limousine in Los Angeles and grew it into a multimillion-dollar business, according to the CLS Las Vegas website. He expanded his services to New York, and then in 1994, he purchased a pre-existing chauffeur service in Las Vegas.
His Las Vegas branch became one of the top five limousine operations in Nevada. It has managed 100 limousines and 19 buses and offers Rolls-Royces and Mercedes-Benzes. It is also one of 47 companies certified to operate limousines by the Nevada Transportation Authority. Horky's Facebook page depicts a lifestyle of luxury.
But behind the tinted windows of his Las Vegas limo service, a federal indictment unveiled an alleged world of cocaine and methamphetamine distribution, prostitution and fraud.
Federal authorities arrested Horky along with eight other CLS Transportation employees and associates on Thursday on charges of racketeering and credit card and bank fraud.
Those indicted included Kimberly Flores, 42, CLS manager; Archie Granata, a financial adviser to CLS; Dawit Moszagi, 47, Clarence Adams, 38, James Reda, 38 and Mikhail Maleev, 48, limousine drivers; and Solomon Zemedhun, 39, and Olive Toli, identified as associates of the enterprise. Zemedhun and Toli are alleged to have supplied and aided in the distribution of controlled substances.
Horky, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a news release, is alleged to have encouraged and directed the criminal activity. He often hired drivers known to "promote, manage and carry on illegal prostitution," the indictment says.
The indictment indicates that the racketeering began no later than September 2008 and lasted until November. During that time, drivers Maleev, Moszagi and Adams allegedly sold cocaine and methamphetamine, while Adams and Reda used the business to carry out prostitution. Horky then required his drivers to pay him a cut of the money they received from the illegal activities, the indictment stated.
Horky allegedly also used his drivers to help set up people he knew with prostitutes. The indictment cites multiple phone conversations and texts between Horky and his drivers involving prostitution. In one conversation on Feb. 2, Horky discussed setting his friend up with a prostitute.
“Hey, you got a line on whores?” Horky asked Reda.
“I do,” Reda responded.
“I need three,” Horky said as he continued to explain that he wanted them for a lawyer friend of his in town from Los Angeles. “I told him a thousand a girl. Is that good enough?”
Meanwhile, Horky, along with Flores and Granata, allegedly stole more than $2.8 million from American Express through credit card fraud. The indictment said the company obtained American Express account numbers from customers and then added unauthorized transactions.
American Express canceled CLS Transportation’s account after the fraudulent transactions continued, but the limousine company created accounts under false names to continue the charges, the indictment said.
Horky, Granata and Flores also devised a check-kiting scheme, where they issued more than 1,500 unauthorized checks from the Bank of George and deposited it into their account. The scheme helped act as a cover-up to their criminal enterprise, the indictment said, by covering pre-existing deficiencies and prior checks.
Now, Horky and the eight other defendants each face one count of conspiracy to conduct or participate in an enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity. Horky, Flores, Adams and Reda are also charged with one count of conspiracy to use a facility of interstate commerce to facilitate unlawful activity. Granata faces an additional count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
If found guilty, they could each face a life sentence and more than $5 million in fines.
According to KLAS Channel 8, Horky, Flores, Reda and Adams appeared before federal Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. on Thursday night and pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released. They had to turn over their passports and their travel has been restricted.
The judge allowed Horky and Flores to return to work but mandated that a court-appointed attorney oversee the operations. Their court date is set for Feb. 12.
Nevada Transportation Authority Chairman Andrew MacKay said regulators are reviewing the charges to determine whether they would issue an order temporarily discontinuing the company’s operations.
MacKay said the company also could request a temporary shutdown to prevent it from being in conflict with terms of its operating certificate.
Officials said police sealed the company’s office Thursday, and a call to the office was not answered.
The arrests were the culmination of an investigation by the Las Vegas Safe Streets Task Force, a joint effort of the FBI and Metro Police.
Sun reporter Richard N. Velotta contributed to this story.