On August 26, Gary Haney, forty, was shot and killed at a Wheat Ridge Ramada Inn after a long standoff with a SWAT team. Afterward, accounts like this one noted his past criminal history, but not his previous self-created image as the "cunning but kindhearted Big Daddy of Denver's nightlife" -- a description from our 2006 feature article about the onetime high-rolling sex-magazine publisher brought low by meth. "Big Trouble," written by Jared Jacang Maher, begins with an account of a brutal December 2005 crime related to Haney's then-profession: pimp. According to a police report, Haney, who stood five-nine and weighed in at 350 pounds (he may have been as much as 100 pounds heavier at the time of his death) had called a female employee to a house on the 3100 block of York Street and accused her of "conducting professional business on the side and therefore taking money from him." After that, he was accused of striking the woman several times in the head with a baseball bat and punching her pretty much everywhere other than her face -- presumably because bruises there would be bad for business.
The woman told officers that Haney's business colleague and owner of the house didn't exactly come to her rescue. Rather, he closed the home's doors and windows to dampen the sound of her screams. Shortly thereafter, Haney is said to have taken $560 from the woman's jacket, informed her that she owed him another five grand, and threatened to kill her and her daughter if she finked to the cops.
For these actions, Haney was eventually busted for aggravated robbery and second-degree assault. He spent two years behind bars for these crimes -- a big fall for the man who pals supposedly described as "Marlon Brando on acid."
According to Maher, Haney first got into the sex biz as a DJ at a Texas strip club. He later opened up a string of nudie joints on the East Coast before becoming an ad salesman for assorted sex-oriented publications, including Adult Stars. His attempt to launch an affiliate of the latter in Denver circa 1999 crashed and burned within a couple of months, but this failure didn't turn him off the publishing business, as noted by an excerpt from Maher's article:
At the time, the free adult-magazine market on the Front Range was dominated by the Rocky Mountain Oyster, a mainstay of retro '70s soft-core smut printed on gritty newsprint. Haney knew that if he wanted to get a slice of the market, he was going to have to go bigger. He got financial backing from some of the then-owners of Christal's, a chain of local sex shops owned by Golden-based ZJ Gifts, to start Rocky Mountain Go-Go. Haney figured he needed to distinguish his publication from the Oyster, so he printed the magazine on expensive, glossy stock in four colors and offered more content, including interviews with porn actresses. He also penned his own page-two column that included pictures of him advancing his average-guy-getting-lucky strategy: Gary with a lollipop girl, Gary getting a kiss from a dominatrix, Gary palming a pair of enormous stripper tits.
Continue reading for more about the rise and fall of Gary Haney. Go-Go (the Rocky Mountain part of the moniker was dropped) eventually evolved into a more mainstream entertainment mag before expiring. But Haney wasn't finished with the sex industry. He subsequently opened up Colorado Companions, which grew into what Maher describes as "the biggest escort agency in the Rocky Mountains, operating around the clock, seven days a week, with more than a dozen employees."
"He had changed the whole industry for Denver," one former Haney associate told Maher. "Kind of made it more upscale, kind of made it nicer. He tried to be, like, the Playboy of escort companies," with prices to match. Haney's workers typically charged in the $250-$300-per-hour range.
What went wrong? Maher writes that Haney got bored with the business even before he became a championship-level meth consumer -- and afterward, his empire crumbled. "He was getting death threats," a former Haney pal told Maher. "Someone came into his house and knocked him around one night, and he had no idea who was responsible. I know between three people, he owed over $50,000."
"Gary is the worst-case scenario," added another. "He is the stereotype. He's below a pimp."
Cut to August 26 of this year, when Wheat Ridge and Westminster police officers reportedly arrived at the Kipling Street Ramada in search of Haney, who was wanted for identity theft, criminal impersonation and forgery.
According to Lisa Spinder, spokeswoman for the Wheat Ridge Police Department, Haney told cops he was armed (with, as it turned out, a Leatherman tool rejiggered to look like a handgun) and wouldn't be going anywhere unless he was in a body bag -- and after about nine hours or so, following the evacuation of the hotel, he got his wish. He was shot five times and subsequently pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Contacted this morning, Spinder notes that the Critical Incident Response Team looking into the matter submitted its report to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office last week -- and Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the DA's office, is checking on its current status. We'll update this post when she gets back to us.
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By the way, Russell was surprised to learn about Haney's past, a legacy much like him -- big, bold and gone.
Here's a larger look at Haney's most recent mug shot.