Published Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 | 12:47 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 | 4:51 p.m.
- 911 call by Fleming victim
- Sex trafficking of children: Las Vegas’ deep, dark secret (11-01-2012)
- Prospect of harsher sentences is on the horizon for Las Vegas pimps (11-02-2012)
- Las Vegas is ‘ground zero’ for child sex trafficking, Metro vice officer says (09-20-2012)
- A journey from good student to underage prostitute (04-02-2012)
- One woman’s escape from human trafficking (04-03-2012)
- Woman shares story to save others from sex trafficking (10-01-2011)
Convicted pimp Ocean Fleming condemned his hired attorney and called the prosecution “malicious and overaggressive” during his bid Tuesday morning for a more lenient sentence.
His last-minute argument didn’t work, though.
Clark County District Judge Michael Villani sentenced Fleming to life in prison with the possibility of parole after five years for first-degree kidnapping, one of 23 counts a jury convicted him of in August. The life sentence will begin after Fleming serves at least 10 years behind bars for other counts, such as pandering, coercion with force and assault with a deadly weapon.
“You need to blame yourself,” Villani told Fleming. “Your arrogance got you in this mess. You preyed upon women with low self-esteem; you manipulated them.”
Fleming’s fall from power — he was known as “O” on Las Vegas streets — began Sept. 29, 2011, when Metro Police arrested him after a violent episode involving a prostitute.
A day earlier, on Sept. 28, one of Fleming’s prostitutes, a young woman named April, fled a Rhodes Ranch neighborhood and desperately flagged down a neighbor backing out of her driveway, according to court records. April jumped into the woman’s car and begged for help, but Fleming blocked them in the driveway — threatening to throw a large rock through the window until the neighbor unlocked the car door. Fleming then dragged away April. (Hear the attached audio clip of the 911 call.)
Police arrested Fleming the next day and found April two days later. April — who, according to court records, was trying to escape Fleming’s control — had recent visible injuries, such as a swollen eye and cut on her forehead, when detectives found her at a Las Vegas home.
The ongoing investigation revealed an operation run by Fleming, who bragged about turning young women into high-earning prostitutes who surrendered their money to him, according to court records. Authorities say he used violence and fear to control the women he pandered.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Mercer implored Villani to sentence Fleming, who has a prior felony conviction, to the harshest sentence, life in prison with parole eligibility after 22 years. Mercer said it was a matter of ensuring community safety and deterring other would-be pimps.
“Quite frankly, the defendant just simply deserves it,” Mercer said. “What he did over the course of several years is absolutely reprehensible.”
Fleming addressed the judge next, reading from a series of handwritten notes he held while shackled at his hands and feet. The defendant called himself a “sacrificial lamb” for authorities’ agenda to curb sex trafficking, arguing the incident involving April was a domestic dispute, not a kidnapping.
Fleming also levied blame upon his hired attorney, Robert Draskovich, regarding the outcome of his case.
“I felt like I was led to a minefield with a blindfold,” said Fleming, who plans to file an appeal.
Draskovich urged the judge to impose a more proportionate sentence than the one proposed by the prosecution, which he said painted Fleming as “the root of all evil.”
Draskovich also asked Villani for permission to withdraw as Fleming’s counsel going forward.
After the sentencing hearing, Draskovich rejected Fleming’s accusations but said he was pleased with the outcome.
“Under the circumstances, I feel the judge followed our argument and imposed a lesser sentence,” he said, referring to parole eligibility after five years for the life sentence.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Noreen DeMonte, who prosecuted the case with Mercer, said she was glad Villani took the case seriously and imposed a stiff sentence.
“We’re very happy with this sentence — very, very happy,” DeMonte said.
This version clarifies how long Fleming must serve before he is eligible for parole.