Three members of a Michigan family have been indicted for allegedly extorting a retired software executive to the tune of nearly $3 million over four years. Prosecutors say the man at the center of the conspiracy was threatening to reveal that his stripper daughter and her teenage cousin had been involved in a paid threesome with the millionaire victim.
Wealthy retiree Paul Vagnozzi allegedly met Jessica Tackett, now 25, in 2008, when she was working as topless dancer to support her family. Prosecutors allege he paid her for sex, and she eventually invited him to dinner with her parents.
That's where Vagnozzi met her Jessica's dad, 52-year-Terry Tackett—who's accused of masterminding the extortion plot.
During dinner, the alleged hooker's father, Terry Tackett, asked for a loan and Vagnozzi agreed.
In late summer 2008, the businessman paid to have a threesome with Jessica Tackett and her cousin, federal prosecutors alleged.
Jessica Tackett's father found out about the threesome in October 2008, according to court records.
Terry Tackett confronted the businessman. The unnamed cousin was a minor, he told Vagnozzi, and he threatened to tell the police unless the retired software executive paid hush money, prosecutors alleged.
At the time of the alleged threesome, prosecutors believe one girl was 17 and one was 18, according to a court filing.
After being threatened, Vagnozzi paid Terry Tackett $30,000. Then, he paid more money.
A lot more money. Despite Vagnozzi's attempts to get the Tacketts to sign a contract saying they'd never reveal the details of the threesome, there was one 18-month period where Vagnozzi allegedly gave Tackett $1.15 million in checks.
Withdrawals from Vagnozzi's account were so large and frequent they trigger an IRS investigation.
And it wasn't just the blackmail material hanging over Vagnozzi's head, prosecutors say.
"Terry Tackett threatened ... he would go to the police and report said alleged crime, cause physical harm to (the businessman), or have alleged associates of his in the 'mafia' or 'Jokers Motorcycle Club' cause physical harm ...," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Straus wrote in the indictment.
So Vagnozzi allegedly paid, and Tackett reportedly started throwing his mysterious new fortune around in splashy, conspicuous ways. He alleged bought six motorcycles, jet skis, gifts for his stripper girlfriends, and several cars—including one for which he paid $10,000 in cash ("mostly in $100s," according to a court filing.")
Terry Tackett has been charged with 119 separate counts in the conspiracy, including "conspiracy to obstruct justice, tax evasion, money laundering and banking crimes," the News reports. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Tackett, who the News made sure to point out has a "a giant spiderweb [tattoo] covering his right elbow," pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday.
Jessica Tackett and her mom, Kimberly, are also facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, with a maximum sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Vagnozzi hasn't been charged with anything and, as a victim, wasn't even named in the conspiracy complaint.
"I've moved on," he told the News. "I don't really want to say anything."
[Photo of Jessica Tackett via Facebook/The Detroit News]