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Tampa mayor's SUV once belonged to pimp, police say

Mayor Bob Buckhorn drives a GMC that belonged to a man accused of sex trafficking.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Mayor Bob Buckhorn drives a GMC that belonged to a man accused of sex trafficking.

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn wanted a big vehicle, something safe for transporting his children.

Turns out, he may be rolling in a pimpmobile.

The black 2005 GMC Yukon Denali came from a police forfeiture lot. That much has been known for months. But documents filed this week in Hillsborough Circuit Court allege that former owner Charles Melvin Fox, 37, used it to transport prostitutes all over Tampa and even out of state.

Tampa police have been investigating Fox since 2009, when a young woman's mother reported that Fox forced the daughter into prostitution.

They seized the Denali in September and got the title in March.

When Buckhorn took office, he wanted a forfeited vehicle so the city wouldn't have a car payment. He turned down a forfeited Lexus and BMW, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

He says he doesn't know much about the vehicle's past. He was told its previous owner used it to promote prostitution.

He liked the vehicle, anyway. The leather interior was clean, and the SUV ran fine.

"A product of ill-gotten gains is being put to good use," he said. As for Fox, "Where he's going, he won't need a car."

Fox is in jail, awaiting trial. He faces five counts of sex trafficking, among other charges.

When Buckhorn got the Denali, it had 100,000 miles and spinning rims.

Buckhorn removed the rims.

Times staff writer Sue Carlton contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Tampa mayor's SUV once belonged to pimp, police say 08/25/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 25, 2011 11:19pm]
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