In an odd case out of Michigan, a stripper named Jessica Tackett and her parents are being charged with extorting roughly $3 million from retired tech-millionaire Paul Vagnozzi.
According to the Detroit News, Vagnozzi allegedly met 18-year-old Tackett in 2008 when she was working as a stripper. From there they started a sexual relationship, where Vagnozzi oftentimes paid her for sex. During the summer that year, federal prosecutors alleged that Vagnozzi paid to have a threesome with Jessica Tackett and her underaged cousin. From there Jessica Tackett and her parents conspired to extort money from Vagnozzi. The stripper’s father, Terry Tackett allegedly made threats to harm Vagnozzi and report him to the police, claiming that he had raped his daughter and that her cousin was a minor.
Their plan worked. From 2008 – 2012, prosecutors say Vagnozzi gave Terry Tackett more than $2.6 million in cash and checks. The father allegedly used the money to buy a house in Romulus, muscle cars, six Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Jet Skis and lavish gifts for his stripper girlfriends. Eventually, the IRS grew suspicious of Vagnozzi and Tackett. They noticed both men were withdrawing large amounts of cash from banks, with most of Tackett’s withdrawals under the $10,00 threshold for banks to file reports to the government. A criminal investigation was launched in January 2011 and the Tackett family were finally caught.
Terry Tackett is facing 199 charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, money laundering, and tax evasion — he could serve up to 20 years in prison. Jessica Tackett and her mother Kimberly will face up to five years in prison and fined $250,000 if convicted. Vagnozzi is a software executive who retired in 2005 after selling his business Rochester Hills-based Cypress Corp., for $8.7 million. He is not named in the indictment because the government considers him a victim.
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