Society

Family Reportedly Extorts $3 Million From Businessman To Keep His Threesome With Minors Secret

| by Jonathan Constante
Jessica Tackett.Jessica Tackett.

A Detroit man is facing 119 charges and a possible 20-year prison sentence after reportedly blackmailing a retired software mogul into paying him millions of dollars to keep a threesome between the businessman and two minors a secret.

Terry Tackett, 52, of Westland, Michigan, had extorted nearly $3 million from software executive Paul Vagnozzi between 2008 and 2012, Detroit News reports.

The scheme was allegedly a family effort among Terry, his wife Kimberly Tackett, 53, and their daughter Jessica Tackett, 25.

Jessica was a stripper and reportedly a prostitute. She met Vagnozzi in 2008 during a shift at a topless bar and the two began a sexual relationship, according to prosecutors.

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Vagnozzi was reportedly invited to the family home and Terry asked him for a loan. Vagnozzi had retired in 2005 after selling his company, Rochester Hills-based Cypress Corp., for $8.7 million. Vagnozzi agreed to give him the loan.

In the summer of 2008, Vagnozzi allegedly paid to have a threesome with Jessica and her cousin. Prosecutors believe that one girl was 18 and the other was 17 at the time, according to a court filing.

Terry found out about the alleged threesome in October 2008. He reportedly confronted Vagnozzi and threatened to notify the authorities unless he paid a large sum of money. Vagnozzi paid him $30,000, according to federal prosecutors.

By December, Vagnozzi reportedly asked Terry to promise in writing he would not report the threesome to the police and also asked that he stopped demanding money. Vagnozzi says he then received four letters from Terry, Jessica, Kimberly and the unnamed cousin, threatening to tell the police unless he paid Jessica another $30,000.

The Tackett family then apparently drafted up two contracts where they promised to stop demanding money and agreed not to sue Vagnozzi or tell the police about the threesome. But the extortion would continue until February 2012, according to court records.

“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.

The threats worked and Vagnozzi coughed up more than $2.6 million in cash and checks over the course of four years, according to court documents.

Terry apparently used the money to fund his extravagant lifestyle. He bought a home in Romulus, Michigan, six Harley-Davidson motorcycles, jet skis, muscle cars and expensive gifts for his stripper girlfriends.

In January 2011, the IRS had began an investigation into Vagnozzi after noticing that he and Terry were withdrawing large sums of money from banks. Most of Terry’s withdrawals were reportedly just under $10,000, which meant banks did not have to file reports with the federal government.

The focus of the investigation quickly shifted when Vagnozzi told investigators he was being extorted following an encounter at a strip club.

IRS agents got copies of cashier checks, which listed many different reasons as to why Vagnozzi was “loaning” so much money to Terry. They included: tendon surgery, biopsy, lung surgery, chemotherapy and a new Cadillac transmission.

Terry had told a bank employee he was using the money to buy a bar in Arizona and to pay for his wife’s breast cancer treatments, according to court documents.

Terry reportedly told witnesses to lie to IRS agents about ownership of vehicles seized during raids. He even threatened to lynch one witness if she spoke to investigators.

“It’s just the IRS — ain’t no big deal,” Terry allegedly told one witness. “Just don’t turn on me.”

But Terry would soon feel the unforgivable wrath of the IRS.

In February 2012, agents seized a 2010 Dodge Challenger, a 2010 Dodge Ram pickup, a 1976 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle and some jet skis. They also seized more than $31,000 in cash.

Terry now faces 119 charges and possibly 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice, money laundering, tax evasion and banking crimes.

His wife and daughter both face up to five years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice. According to prosecutors, Kimberly and her daughter falsely accused Vagnozzi of raping Jessica.

Vagnozzi, who is the son of late Farmington Hills mayor and state Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi, is ready to leave it all in the past.

“I’ve moved on,” Vagnozzi told Detroit News. “I don’t really want to say anything.”

Raymond Cassar, Vagnozzi’s attorney, expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and investigators for bringing the Tackett family to justice.

“My client is a good man who was the victim of a lengthy extortion plot by a group of individuals that conspired to take as much money from him as they possibly could over a lengthy period of time,” Cassar stated in an email to Detroit News.

Vagnozzi was not named in the indictment as the government considered him to be a victim in this case.

Federal court records state that Vagnozzi gave Terry a whopping $1.15 million in checks during one 18-month period.

But the highlight of Terry’s debauchery had to have been in November 2010 when he bought a Chevelle from one of his mechanic's clients.

“Tackett pulled out $10,000… from his pocket,” Assistant Attorney Jonathan Grey wrote in a court filing, “(mostly $100 bills).”

Source: Detroit News

Photo Credit: Facebook via Detroit News