The investigation of Denver Police Department vice detective Michael Ryan is big news.
As of this writing, Ryan has not been arrested or charged with any crime. If he does face charges, naturally, he will have the presumption of innocence.
But thanks to the outstanding reporting work of CBS4’s Brian Maass, we know that Ryan is under investigation by both the Lakewood and Denver Police departments for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.
Just in the same way that “tainted” samples in a crime lab can throw thousands of prior results in doubt, the investigation into Ryan’s behavior – specifically as it regards prostitution – raises concerns about a career’s worth of work by the detective.
First, as Maass has noted but we’d like to emphasize, Ryan was one of the lead detectives, if not the lead detective into the prostitution ring called “Denver Players.” For years, Denver Players was rumored to cater to the elite and powerful of this city and state. Significant support was provided to that theory when former federal Judge Edward Nottingham was linked with the ring.
Additionally, if you’re a regular reader of CompleteColorado.com, then you know the pages of this website published our own report of ties between Denver Players and a powerful political figure.
Finally, we should mention that for two years, we’ve been holding on to some evidence that has to do with a Mike Ryan-led investigation that has made us exceptionally curious, and so now we’ll publish it. Keep in mind we’re publishing the evidence we have, and are making no accusations.
Vice detective Mike Ryan was also instrumental in the takedown of the “Million Dollar Madam,” Hong Tang. That ring was sometimes known as “Denver Sexy.”
When reviewing the case file of Hong Tang, we found the following check written from the account of a local pizza place, made out to the name of one of the Denver Sexy prostitutes who turned informant on Tang. The check was conspicuous for the fact that it looked like a regular checking account, but scrawled in the memo line was the word “payroll.” Handwritten payroll checks still happen these days, but have become increasingly rare.
The fact that the check was included as evidence in a case file is a telling piece of evidence in itself. But when we asked both the Denver DA’s office and DPD whether or not any investigative action was taken on the check, we were told the detective (Ryan) couldn’t remember. (For the record, we were asking approximately four years after the conclusion of the investigation). Additionally, we listened to a recording of Ryan’s interview with the woman listed in the check below, and even though the interview happened months after February 2008, no mention of the check occurred on the recorded portion of the interview.
Additionally, when we tried to make contact with the owners of the pizza joint two years ago, our phone calls were returned, but the individuals would not meet with us in person to prove their identity.
In the coming weeks and days, DPD should lean towards as much transparency as possible when discussing the investigation, and any subsequent actions regarding Michael Ryan.
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