YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP! Cops, Crooks, and Celebrities from Brooklyn to Las Vegas


Cops, Crooks, and Celebrities from Brooklyn to Las Vegas


Stu Michaels tells his stories of being a cop in the worst part of Brooklyn, to becoming a Las Vegas casino security boss for Steve Wynn at the Mirage, and turns them into a fun read in his book: You Can’t Make This Up! He was a New York City detective during the same time when Frank Serpico was blowing the whistle on corrupt cops. Serpico, an honest cop who went undercover to expose corruption in the force, was popularized by the 1973 movie made about his life, Serpico, which starred Al Pacino as the cop with integrity. Stu finally ended up in Vegas where he protected and hobnobbed with many of the world’s most famous and interesting people: from Elizabeth Taylor to Britney Spears, Dustin Hoffman to Criss Angel, Muhammad Ali to Bill Clinton and also a few other presidents. Michaels shares the interesting stories of the celebrities he met.

After Stu Michaels graduated from the police academy, his first assignment was in Brooklyn. At the time, the 79th Precinct in Brooklyn was said to be the worst area in the United States, according to the FBI. If you were a policeman, the people of the community considered you an enemy. Stu claimed in his book that it was so bad that the men in blue had to call in every hour or they would come looking for you. It was that bad! That was in 1965, but in 1968 he became a plainclothesman and was assigned to a nice neighborhood to follow a Mafia boss.


“In 1969, we were all going to hear from a guy named Serpico. Life would never be the same in the NYPD. In 1971, I was with the NYPD’s Narcotics Squad. The police commissioner was getting paranoid because of Serpico and decided that anytime the narcotics guys executed a search warrant, they would have an assistant district attorney go along to keep the cops honest. My team had a wiretap on a big-time heroin dealer. The dealer said he had new shit in his house and would be cutting it that night. We ran right down to the courthouse and got a search warrant and hit the house that night and hit a home run. The dealer had a couple of kilos and almost $1 million in cash in a cardboard box. After an hour, we were ready to leave for the police station, which was right around the corner, so we were just going to walk. One detective said, “I’ll take this prisoner,” one detective was taking the heroin, and the assistant district attorney said, “I will take the money.” Of course, we thought he meant he would take it to the police station. This guy disappeared off the face of the earth for seven years will all the drug money. He finally surfaced in Arizona, but to my knowledge was never prosecuted.”


Stu tells many stories of his time on the force in New York. When the story of David Berkowitz, also known as “Son of Sam”, was in all the papers – Stu was there. He retired from the NYPD at the age of 41, and a couple years later developed heart problems that led to open heart surgery. Stu and his family ended up moving to Vegas to get away from the bitter cold weather in New York. So on a hot August day in 1990, Stu Michaels moved to Vegas – where the temperature was hitting 115 degrees. He jokingly said it was like going from the freezer to an oven! He applied for a job as a security officer at the Mirage. Within a few months he was asked to provide personal security for Steve Wynn and his family. He also provided security for famous politicians, movie stars, athletes, and performers. These are just a few glimpses into the stories he tells about them and about working in Las Vegas.


Referring to…


Steve Wynn: Someone should build a statue of him and place it in a very prominent place in Las Vegas. He is responsible for this city being what it is today. He changed Vegas from a fun place to visit for the weekend into the ever-expanding wonderful city that it is today.


One of the facts that Stu reveals in his book is that the casinos have cameras everywhere. He claims that the only place they can’t keep an eye on you is in your room and your bathroom.


Hookers: “When I worked at the Mirage, we tried to keep the hookers out, but that’s impossible. You have to let them say what they will do and for how much. You can’t ask for sex and offer money or that could be entrapment. At this time I had a wristwatch that was a copy of a Piaget. It cost about ten bucks, but looked real good. This particular night I was sitting at the bar with a girl I’m pretty sure was working, but she wouldn’t say the magic words. After about thirty minutes she said: “I’m afraid you are a cop.” “Why do you think that?” I asked. “Because you are wearing a JC Penney jacket and a Piaget watch.” She was exactly right. I burst out laughing and told her she was right, except the watch was a copy. We both started laughing.”


Mike Tyson: One time at the Mirage, Tyson was defending his belt. On the day of the fight, we brought in these big trailers that served as dressing rooms for the fighters. Another security guy and I were standing in front of Tyson’s trailer when suddenly we heard “BANG” and the whole trailer tilted a little in our direction. I thought, ‘Holy shit, a car must have run into the trailer.’ I’m thinking, ‘What the hell?!’ I opened the door to the trailer and looked inside. Here was Tyson, with his boxing gloves on, and he was hitting the wall of the trailer. Each time he punched the wall, the whole trailer tilted a bit. How would you like to catch that punch on your chin?


Shaquille O’Neal: He is truly a gentle giant. He is very friendly and polite to everyone, and very generous and a great tipper. One day I was having lunch with him at the coffee shop at the Palms. You’re probably wondering, “How much does a guy his size eat for lunch?” He eats a lot and then eats some more. He paid the check and then gave the waitress a $100 tip.


Pamela Anderson: On one trip, Pamela and a guy named Nick Zito were going to do a publicity stunt. Zito was a member and maybe the leader of the Hell’s Angels in N.Y. He was going to ride a motorcycle with her on the back through the casino and out to the pool. I was standing guard outside her room waiting to escort her down for the stunt. The elevator doors opened and out came a Hispanic guy, five feet six, and weighted about ten pounds soaking wet. He had piercings all over his face and tattoos where his skin was exposed. I asked: “Can I help you?” “I’m Jesus,” he said. I replied: “Well, you are not how I had pictured you.” Pamela was friends with this guy. Talk about the odd couple.


Joe Pesci: I heard Pesci ask Mr. Wynn who I was. Wynn replied I was his special security guy. Pesci looked at me with that look from the role he played in Goodfellas and said: “You don’t look so tough.” My mind went to the scene where Pesci pretends to be mad at Ray Liotta, so I said: “You think this is funny? You think I’m here to amuse you?” He laughed. I decided to have some fun with Pesci, who was wearing a nice leather jacket, when he handed it to me and said: “Hold this for me.” I said: “What do I look like?” He replied: “Take the fuckin’ jacket, I’m hot.” I put the jacket in a private room and an hour later Pesci wanted his jacket. “What jacket?” I asked. “Are you fuckin’ crazy? I gave you my jacket,” Pesci retorted. “You didn’t give it to me,” I replied. “Get my fuckin’ jacket or I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass,” he said. We all laughed. Joe Pesci is just as he appears in the movies.


Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley: They wanted to shop at Tower Records, so I arranged for them to go in after-hours. They picked out classical music, the Beatles, rock ‘n’ roll, and gave it all to me. I brought it to the register and the manager told Michael the total was a little over $1,800. Michael stared at the guy for a few seconds and said, “Stu, do you have any money?” As I might have guessed, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, who together have untold millions, had come shopping without any means of paying.


Paris Hilton: The Palms opened in 2001 and the Maloofs contracted Paris Hilton to walk the red carpet. They made a dress for her and attached $1 million in casino chips to the front of the dress. My job was to stay with Paris, and more importantly, to stay with the dress. Naturally, there were tons of press people, and she spent a long time on the red carpet. Finally, she said she was tired and we went up to her suite and she went into the bathroom. A few seconds later, the dress came flying out into the living room like a pair of old jeans. I carried the dress down to the casino and locked it in the cage. Luckily none of the chips had fallen off.

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