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Hollywood cop Mikey V of ‘Design Star’ – fired for not telling about gay porn past – wants police job back

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BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Michael Verdugo's 15 minutes of porn film fame cost him his job as a Hollywood police officer and his budding career as "Mikey V'' of HGTV's Design Star.

Verdugo is fighting to get back his police job and is preparing to sue the police department for discrimination.

Hollywood Police fired Verdugo -- and Design Star dumped him -- after a 1996 video turned up on the Internet showing the future cop in a 15-minute bondage scene from a gay porn flick called Rope Rituals.

"I don't regret it," Verdugo, 35, said of his one-time appearance at age 22 in porn, three years before he became a police officer. "It was a time in my life that I wanted to explore."

Verdugo -- billed as Jeremy Wess in Rope Rituals -- said he performed nude in the short scene, but didn't engage in hardcore sex. "It was all role-playing bondage. I was tied. I used handcuffs later on in my career."

Just after the video turned up in July 2008, Design Star uninvited Mikey V from a reunion episode. Hollywood Police put Verdugo on administrative leave with pay. An investigation followed and the department fired him in January 2009 for not disclosing on his police application that he had made the porn film. An arbitrator recently upheld the termination.

Now, Verdugo has asked his attorney, Alberto Milian, to file a civil lawsuit against Hollywood Police for wrongful termination and discrimination.

"When you're a gay cop in a paramilitary organization like law enforcement, a lot of discrimination exists," said Milian, a Coral Gables criminal defense attorney who also specializes in labor law for police officers and firefighters. "He was a damn good cop. This guy was an asset and there's no doubt his talents were very useful to the people of Hollywood."

The city denies firing Verdugo -- a onetime undercover officer -- because he is gay.

"This had nothing to do with Mike Verdugo's sexuality. It had to do with his honesty. The application process to become a police officer is very arduous," Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Storey said.

Hollywood Police Chief Chad Wagner determined Verdugo had not been honest on his application for omitting the porn film, Storey said, and "that was why he was let go."

Verdugo said he never gave thought to putting the movie on his résumé‚ when he first became a Lauderhill cop in 1999, or when he applied to the Hollywood department two years later.

He believes his sexual orientation had plenty to do with his firing, that if a male cop appeared nude in a straight porn film his police buddies would be "high-fiving him in the hallway."

designstarmikeygayporn

At left is Rope Rituals’ Jeremy Wess; at right is Verdugo in a publicity shot from Design Star:

Verdugo said he was offered a part in a gay porn film back in 1996 at the old Copa dance club in Fort Lauderdale. He filmed Rope Rituals in San Francisco, got paid $700 and that was the end of his porn career, he said.

The brawny Verdugo, who grew up in Hialeah, appeared during the 2008 season of Design Star. He placed fourth that season and was supposed to return for a reunion episode, but the series dropped him after the porn news broke. He now owns an interior design company, Verdugo Design Group, and a company that fixes up vacant homes, Elite Home Staging.

Verdugo said he always was out in both Lauderhill and Hollywood police departments and that he even briefly dated a fellow Hollywood police officer.

His current boyfriend, Mike Silver, is a field training officer for Pembroke Pines Police.

Not many police officers are open about their sexuality, Verdugo said.

"Just a handful," he said. "They don't want to come out because they see what happened to me. It's a double-edge sword," Verdugo said. “Discrimination is still huge in the police community. It's just huge."

Portrait of Michael Verdugo by Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald File

Read the arbitration decision: Hollywood Police vs. Michael Verdugo

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Well they just outed his boyfriend by name and where he works which was unneccessary. But he lied on his application and that may be a sign that he will lie on police reports. We have enough of that already.

I don't see why he lost his job on design star. Most of those guys are gay. We all know it. We watch anyway.

FYI: Verdugos boyfriend, Pembroke Pines Officer Mike Silver, said he has no problem being identified in the story.

Steve Rothaus

I have one question.. Does the Hollywood PD's application ask if you have ever made a porno movie?

If it doesn't, then he didn't lie.
If it does and he didn't say he had...THEN he lied.

You can use cocaine, weed and Ecstasy as long as it's not in the past 10 years and still become a cop dea or fbi? but having sex and filming it 12 years ago you can't.. who writes these laws anyway

We expect police officers to put their lives ahead of those they they are willing to protect. Yet a indiscretion made years before becoming a police officer is conveniently used to discard this officer who made the streets safer. I am quite sure that others in the department have made poor judgment calls when they were younger, and had this been a heterosexual tape, There would not be this great urgency to discard this mans whole career. What century are we living in?

This is similar to the witch hunts that were conducted years ago. The department should put their efforts into keeping their officers from falsifying reports and keeping their reputation clean, rather than digging up a police officers past. YEARS before he joined their department.

2 companies? When the heck does he catch bad guys?

I'm sure they asked him about his past employments, he omitted Design Star, by signing his applcation he affirmed that the information he provided was truthful and that any false, misleading or ommisions were grounds for rejecting his application or termination of employment and benefits.

What would happen if a female officer posed for Playboy?

Sorry for the insinuation earlier Steve.

Hey Butterless......Design Star happened in 2008...after he was already on the force and his participation in Design Star was approved by the department. Chief Wagner stated under oath that it was the content of the tape that made him fire Mikey. They went after him for not listing his role as an independent contractor in this 15 min movie as "employment"...kind of like when you help a buddy move all da and he pays you...do you list that as employment?

He did lie. When you do the back ground package they ask about previous jobs you held. Some departments ask for every job you ever had and others go back so many years. If it was not mentioned it means he lied on his application.

wow- that dude was effin hot

He ABSOLUTELY did not lie. Please look up the difference between an "independent contractor" and an "employee" especially as it relates to an actor in a film. The US government, IRS or screen actor's guild does not define his role as an employee. Do you think he should also have listed employment when he washed cars as a young adult or mowed lawns?

I hope he gets the job back. We need tough, decent cops like Mickey V.

Who amongst us has not done something stupid and perhaps ill-thought out that we wish we hadn't in our 20's? Of course, it's unfair that he lose his job over it. Law enforcement has always been a source of institutionalized homophobia and racism and still is, just less obvious and overt. Makes no difference how many cultural diversity courses its employees are expected to fake their way through. And, yes, a double standard does exist.

Ron Jeremy for President!

In order for the police to be fair here, i would taqke a look at every applicant form, and then i would turn to the Social Security Administration for records of eaches ewmployment they will have every job anyone of them ever had if not then fire them all. Immediately. This officer was fired because he is a Gay Man andd nothing more.

One more thing.

We've all done dumb things in our twenties but we're all not trying to become police officers or teachers either.

This young man needs to take his case to court and quit trying to bamboozle the general public.

Mike, Ron, you guys take care. Police in South Florida is homophobic, and evn dangerous. I have had friends beaten by the police and then left to deal on the side of the road. I have had police officers harrass my employer when i was a bartender, and i have watched American Police Department dwindle to nothing more than organized thug's thes people dont care about the Law, and they certainly do not care about you. Good Luck, and from what i have read about you. going back to being a police officer is like you would be severing your legs, because you are clearly smarter, more talented, and do not need to rely of someone having to bribe you to do your job. Like the rest of the force. Police Departments, have disgraced themselves and thier purpose. You are better than that.

Call the Social Security administration and get a list of previous employment. If it isnt on there is isnt a job.

Although the movie is hardly pornographic (watching Boy Scouts tie knots to earn their Merit Badges is about as exciting) Mikey is the bottom and that may have done him in. Had he been the top we wouldn't be having this conversation.

In order for the film company to be required to file a 1099 you would have had to make a certain amout, did you recieve a 1099? That is contract labor not employment. If they turned one in at all. Good Luck

One of my comments was censored and there was nothing wrong with my comment.

That leads me to believe the author is only allowing one sided arguments here. Totally biased.

This has got nothing to do with if he is gay or straight. There have been hetrosexuals who were in trouble for that kind of stuff in the past. The only reason you are hearing about it is that he was on TV and is gay.
As for jobs there is a program police use to check backgrounds and it shows any job you ever had even under contract. All they need is your name and date of birth.

Misleading headline b/c the firing only deals with this nut participating in porno films. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yeah, I am not sure this is a sexual orientation problem?

Straight officers both male and female have been let go for the same kind of thing. I think it is stupid that an old porno would get you fired, but I hardly think it is discrimination.

I truly believe he was let go because of his sexual orientation. I mean c'mon, this happened 12 years ago!! This is hardly comparable to someone who once took drugs or was incarcerated..It's a recession and the government will use any excuse they can to let people go and cut back on their budget.

There is always a catch-all question during a background investigation that could be as simple as 'Is there anything else in your past that would discredit the City/Department?' to which he said No. That was a lie, indicative of a choice to be dishonest. Reason enough for dismissal, today, yesterday, or years ago.

First of all, making a porno movie is not illegal. Tacky perhaps. Secondly, why would he be required to list a one-time freelance experience that happened 12 years ago? That is no one's business but his own. Generally speaking, most job applications don't go back that far anyway. It seems pretty obvious to me that they fired him because of his sexual orientation.

A lie is a lie... gay or not!

Was he hoping that he wouldn't be discovered as lying??

I was hoping that I wouldn't have discovered him to be gay...

lol

J_baranowski:

You are very ignorant when it comes to drug use: people who abuse drugs have a dopamine deficiency like a diabetic has an insulin deficiency.

GO READ A BOOK!

Steve Rothaus won the 1998 GLAAD Media Award for outstanding newspaper columnist. Steve and public relations executive Ric Katz, partners since 1985, live in Miami.

This is not a news story. This press release is simply gay propaganda wrapped up and disguised as newsworthy.

Mike was not fired for being gay. He lied on his application. Having worked with Mike it was always the same story when he was disciplined. I m being picked on because I m gay. No Mike you were being picked on for not showing up for work, showing up late, and not being where you are supposed to be during your shift. None of the other gay officers have a problem, only you Mike.
PS Mike wants special treatment because he is gay..

How does his past, dictate what kind of Police Officer this man is today? What law did he break, who did he hurt? So cops who get busted for OVI, Drug or Weapons offenses just get demoted in my dept and they are not a threat to the public trust but Officer Verdugo is? Sounds like the same BS my department tried to use against me when I got fired (not for being gay of course!) (PS...Sued them and got my job back and so can you Mike, hang in there)

ATTENTION FLO RIDER:

Even the Chief of Police, under oath, admitted he was disgusted by what he saw and that is why he fired Mikey. Would he have felt that way if it were girl-on-girl or guy-girl?
As far as Mike's job performance, get your facts straight. When he got hired by Hollywood Police Dept, he made history by being assigned to elite units faster than anyone else there. That means he was trusted, by the chief of police, to travel across the country under many different aliases transporting hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money.
Are you telling me that HPD is so stupid that they would give this highly secure assignment to someon so irresponsible. If so, then the citizens of Hollywood should all be in fear for their safety.

Once again, someone looses their life to the power of the internet. Did the person that posted the video have the permission to use his image in this fasion? Yes there have been straight police officers fired for similar infractions. One in particular was the female officer that posed for Hstler magazine (I think that was it). Less than two months later, Playgirl had a pictorial of hot officers of N.Y. with some grat nudes. No firings occured.

It's the past, get over it and move on. Learn from your mistakes, it will only make you better. You can sue city hall and the police Department. You just can't collect enough to cover your expenses, they will drag it on for ever to cost you a fortune. Your attorney will get rich, and you'll still be off the force with less money. The system sucks face it.

ATTENTION HEY THERE

Mike was booted out of every elite unit...The Beach, Money Laundering and VIN....I ahte to tell you this but yes they give assignments based on who you know or who you blow..... They have put officers in drug units who never made a drug arrest, but who can install wood flooring and wood fences at the Chief's house...

I understand that we are not suppose to lie on our applications for employment. However our sexual orientations and our sexual preferences are no one's business but our own. If his preference did not impact his ability to do his job then he should of been left alone. The people at the police department creating the tense work environment needed to be fired not given a slap on the wrist and sent to sensitivity classes BUT FIRED FOR CREATING A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND AN ENVIRONMENT OF HARASSMENT.

I well agree with what raap had just said. Indeed it's not about his sexual preference after all but his performance on duty and how he would be able to do and characterized the job he applied his self in.

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