A Las Vegas police investigation into a prominent Southern California real estate agent unearthed a series of alleged sexual assaults spanning more than a decade “in numerous locations around the United States,” according to an arrest warrant.
Now, the agent, Michael Lee Bjorkman, faces two counts of sexual assault in Las Vegas, according to court records. If convicted, the 48-year-old man could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Las Vegas police have not said how many victims they identified during their investigation or whether more charges were expected against Bjorkman. It also wasn’t immediately clear Friday whether Bjorkman was under investigation by other police departments in connection with the out-of-state allegations that surfaced during the Las Vegas investigation.
In addition to Las Vegas, the warrant accuses Bjorkman of assaults in Los Angeles, Maui and Denver.
According to his real estate group’s website, Bjorkman is primarily based in the Los Angeles area. But his arrest warrant states that he often travels for work to attend real estate conferences and trainings around the country, during which most of the alleged assaults occurred.
Court records show that he was free on $100,000 bail in the Las Vegas case as of Friday. Bjorkman was arrested March 9 in Miami-Dade County and classified as a fugitive, according to Florida court records, but was later released from custody and allowed to travel to Las Vegas to turn himself in.
‘Poisoning the well’
His attorney, David Chesnoff, said Friday that his client was arraigned in Las Vegas Justice Court this week.
“He’s got two charges in Nevada involving the same alleged person, and it’s our intention to vigorously defend those allegations,” Chesnoff said. “As for the rest of the allegations, I would say it’s outrageous that police would have an arrest warrant including hearsay about events that allegedly occurred years ago outside of Nevada. It’s like purposely poisoning the well, I’d say.”
In the warrant, a Metropolitan Police Department sex crime detective outlined, in 27 pages, a monthslong investigation into the man that began in September, after a woman reported that she had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Bjorkman during an August real estate convention in Las Vegas.
The woman told police that she had gone to a dinner with other convention attendees, and while eating “began feeling extremely intoxicated after having only one drink earlier in the evening,” the warrant states. It is the last thing she can remember from the evening, she said, before waking up the next morning in her hotel room — “alone and nude,” according to the warrant.
It goes on to describe several more instances, reported to the detective by others in the real estate business, of them waking up in their hotel rooms, naked or partially clothed, with no memory of the previous night. The alleged assaults began as early as 2000, the warrant states.
‘Date rape’ drugs
The sexual assault allegations primarily were made by women, the warrant shows, although at least two men said they believe they were drugged due to severe lapses in their memory during past real estate events.
According to the warrant, the suspect may have had help from “a close friend,” who apparently supplied Bjorkman with “date rape” drugs and sometimes recorded the sexual assaults. It wasn’t clear Friday whether the friend, whose name is redacted in the warrant, is facing criminal charges.
In her initial report to Metro, the Las Vegas victim said she confided in several colleagues that she had been assaulted at the convention, and through those conversations learned that at least three others believed they had been drugged and sexually assaulted that weekend, according to the warrant.
As word spread in the real estate industry of the Las Vegas assaults, “more men and women came forward, claiming they believed they were drugged at real estate events around the United States,” the warrant states.
Soon after, one of the Las Vegas victims decided to post about her experience on Facebook, according to the warrant. The post, which did not name Bjorkman, garnered “numerous” replies from others who claimed they had been “drugged and/or sexually assaulted” by Bjorkman.
The warrant states that Bjorkman declined to speak with the detective in January, but, through his lawyer at the time, said he would cooperate if police obtained an arrest or search warrant.
He is due in court May 6 in the Las Vegas case for a preliminary hearing, during which a judge will be presented with evidence. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for Bjorkman to stand trial.