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Posted: 6/2/2008 9:04:58 PM EST
Monday, June 2, 2008 - Page updated at 02:30 PM

Feds get restraining order against Seattle area strip clubs
By GENE JOHNSON

AP Legal Affairs Writer

SEATTLE —
Federal prosecutors Monday obtained a temporary restraining order against three Seattle-area strip clubs and their owners, alleging, among other things, that they failed to report income, costing the city of Seattle thousands of dollars in tax revenue.

The affidavits also allege that agents found owners Frank Colacurcio Sr. and his son, Frank Jr., took a cut of money dancers received for illegal sex acts.

The court documents name the clubs Rick's in Seattle, Sugar's in Shoreline, and Honey's in Everett, along with the Colacurcios, the Talents West talent agency and Accurate Bookkeeping in Seattle. Warrants were served at those locations Monday, and at Fox's, a club in Parkland, south of Tacoma, FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs said.

The restraining order prohibits the Colacurcios and their associates of selling the clubs or doing anything to lessen their value. Prosecutors said at a news conference that it's the first step in freezing assets pending the conclusion of a racketeering investigation that alleges the clubs were run by a criminal enterprise.

"For far too long, the Colacurcios' organization has made big money operating their clubs as fronts for prostitution," U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said. "The Colacurcios have designed the clubs, the payment methods and the policies that encourage prostitution and to ensure they are the ones getting rich off these illegal sex acts."

No criminal charges have been filed. Lawyers for the Colacurcios didn't immediately return phone calls for comment. They can ask for a hearing to challenge the restraining order.

Other charges being contemplated include money laundering and mail fraud, in reference to alleged chronic underreporting of attendance at Rick's, Sullivan said.

Investigators estimate that cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue. That was based on data from a surveillance camera installed on a utility pole outside Rick's in June 2006 to count customers entering the establishment. Officials said they were conservative in counting "customers" - for example, women were not counted.

But in July 2006, while Rick's reported 7,929 customers, the camera recorded nearly 14,000, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also says ATMs and credit card machines in the clubs dispensed tokens instead of cash that customers would use to pay dancers. But when dancers redeemed the tokens, they were given less cash than the tokens' face value - evidence of skimming, the affidavit says.

Authorities say that as part of the investigation, a police undercover officer infiltrated the organization, first through Talents West to be a waitress at Sugar's. Five weeks later she was named a manager at Rick's.

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it "the most significant organized crime investigation we have ever undertaken," and added that the enterprise had "done considerable damage to this city."


"It's an organization that has made its money on the backs of women. It's about violence and organized crime. It's not about the morals police," he said.

Colacurcio Sr. has been a controversial figure in Seattle for six decades. He was even named a racketeer before a U.S. Senate committee in the 1950s.

In January, the Colacurcios pleaded guilty to felony criminal charges in Seattle's "Strippergate" campaign-finance scandal. They each agreed to each pay $75,000 in criminal and civil penalties.

That scandal erupted at City Hall in 2003 after the Colacurcios secretly funneled thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions through friends, relatives and business partners to the re-election campaigns of three Seattle City Council members.

The contributions came shortly before the council approved a rezone allowing Rick's to add parking spaces.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 9:05:49 PM EST
Monday, June 2, 2008 - Page updated at 06:55 PM

Feds raid Seattle-area strip clubs
By GENE JOHNSON

AP Legal Affairs Writer

SEATTLE —
Half a century after a U.S. Senate committee identified him as an organized crime figure, Seattle's 90-year-old strip club magnate and convicted racketeer is still at it, federal authorities say.

Agents on Monday raided four clubs owned by or affiliated with Frank Colacurcio Sr., and his son, Frank Jr., as well as their homes and offices, heralding what could be the final round in the family's six-decade fight with the law. Documents filed in U.S. District Court said the Colacurcios have been underreporting attendance, cheating the city out of more than $3,000 a month in taxes, and skimming money their dancers earned performing illegal sex acts.

And as recently as last fall, Colacurcio Sr. continued to pay his own dancers as much as $1,000 for sex, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.

The clubs have not been shut down, and no current criminal charges have been brought against the Colacurcios. However, Seattle U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said investigators have uncovered extensive evidence of racketeering, mail fraud and money laundering. Typically, such evidence is never made public prior to an indictment. But in this case, prosecutors on Monday obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the Colacurcios or their associates from selling or transferring three strip clubs - Rick's in Seattle, Sugar's in Shoreline, and Honey's in Everett - or their hiring and bookkeeping offices.

Sullivan said he intends to use the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, to have the properties forfeited to the federal government.

"For far too long, the Colacurcios' organization has made big money operating their clubs as fronts for prostitution," he said. "The Colacurcios have designed the clubs, the payment methods and the policies that encourage prostitution and to ensure they are the ones getting rich off these illegal sex acts."

Lawyers for the Colacurcios did not return calls seeking comment. They have 10 days to ask for a hearing to challenge the restraining order. In the past, one lawyer, Gilbert Levy, has noted that the pair has never been charged with violent criminal acts.

That's not to say they don't have a past. Frank Sr., the son of a King County farmer, received his first conviction in the 1940s, for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl. He entered the topless nightclub business after making a name for himself in Seattle's pinball industry in the 1950s.

In 1957, hearings before a U.S. Senate organized crime committee identified him as a racketeer. In 1971 he was convicted federally of running a bingo racket and sentenced to three years; in the mid-1970s he served more than two years on a tax evasion conviction that was eventually overturned on appeal. In 1981 he was convicted of tax fraud for skimming profits from a Bellevue club, and in 1991 he and Frank Jr. were convicted in a similar scheme, this time involving clubs they operated in Alaska.

This year, the Colacurcios pleaded guilty to felony criminal charges in Seattle's 2003 "Strippergate" campaign-finance scandal. They each agreed to each pay $75,000 in criminal and civil penalties. The pair secretly funneled thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions through friends, relatives and business partners to the re-election campaigns of three Seattle City Council members, shortly before a vote on a rezone to allow for more parking at Rick's.

It was that last incident that gave rise to the current investigation, which has included a Seattle police officer who infiltrated the organization as a club manager last summer; confidential informants; and undercover vice cops who posed as customers or secretly filmed acts of prostitution - though Sullivan was quick to note that none participated in prostitution.

A 99-page affidavit filed in support of the restraining order is chock full of incidents where dancers were observed performing sex acts or offering to do so, for prices ranging from $40 to $500. In some cases, the document said, undercover agents watched as the Colacurcios saw what was going on and did nothing to stop it, or in which they freely discussed prostitution at the clubs. Dancers told the agents that if they were arrested for prostitution at Rick's, they were simply moved to another club until the charge was resolved.


Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it "the most significant organized crime investigation we have ever undertaken," and added that the enterprise had "done considerable damage to this city."

"It's an organization that has made its money on the backs of women," he said. "It's about violence and organized crime. It's not about the morals police."

Six cold-case homicides were reopened as part of the investigation, he said, and three were solved - though none was tied to the Colacurcios.

Investigators estimate that the chronic underreporting of attendance at Rick's cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue. That was based on data from a surveillance camera installed outside the club in June 2006 to count customers entering the establishment.

In July 2006, while Rick's reported 7,929 customers, the camera recorded nearly 14,000, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also said ATMs and credit card machines in the clubs dispensed tokens instead of cash that customers would use to pay dancers. But when dancers redeemed the tokens, they were given less cash than the tokens' face value - evidence of skimming, the affidavit said.
Link Posted: 6/2/2008 10:07:49 PM EST
Do we need to set up a legal defense fund for JoshB_GreenAK?
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 4:56:01 AM EST
They raided Honey's [just down the street from where I work] yesterday...I saw all the County Mounties getting ready for the raid in our parking lot.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:07:01 AM EST
Would it be in poor taste to show up at Honeys wearing my CBP shirt?

Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:25:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Gibby:
Would it be in poor taste to show up at Honeys wearing my CBP shirt?




Not at all, you probably wouldn't get much attention though...

Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:36:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By Aloxite:
Do we need to set up a legal defense fund for JoshB_GreenAK?




LOL--not for this one....
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:37:03 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/3/2008 5:38:20 AM EST by Phil_in_Seattle]
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 7:07:33 AM EST
Ya' know.. For as "liberal", "free thinking", and "open minded" as Seattle (an western Washington) loves to claim itself to be, they are mighty prudish about young ladies touching an guys pee-pee for a couple twenties.

Sorry, maybe I'm the only one that doesn't really see the crime here. If a woman wants to make her living that way and no one is sticking a gun to her head to do it, I don't see the problem.


Link Posted: 6/3/2008 7:52:16 AM EST

Originally Posted By KA3B:

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it "the most significant organized crime investigation we have ever undertaken," and added that the enterprise had "done considerable damage to this city."

Investigators estimate that the chronic underreporting of attendance at Rick's cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue.


I'm not a big fan of these clubs... but the only "damage" the city is really worried about is lost "revenue". They don't give two shits what's going on as long as they are getting their cut. Start trying to keep a little extra for yourself and big daddy brings down the hammer.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 8:41:05 AM EST

Originally Posted By Just1MoreBlackRifle:

Originally Posted By KA3B:

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it "the most significant organized crime investigation we have ever undertaken," and added that the enterprise had "done considerable damage to this city."

Investigators estimate that the chronic underreporting of attendance at Rick's cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue.


I'm not a big fan of these clubs... but the only "damage" the city is really worried about is lost "revenue". They don't give two shits what's going on as long as they are getting their cut. Start trying to keep a little extra for yourself and big daddy brings down the hammer.


So...you talkin' 'bout organized crime, or the city?
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 8:49:38 AM EST
Seems like the City is the Organized crime group. Portland has over 200 clubs.

Gil Girlykowski just needs something to do.

Now I have to find out what to do with my left over tokens?
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 11:38:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/3/2008 12:09:31 PM EST by Just1MoreBlackRifle]

Originally Posted By JohnB_greenAK:

Originally Posted By Just1MoreBlackRifle:

Originally Posted By KA3B:

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske called it "the most significant organized crime investigation we have ever undertaken," and added that the enterprise had "done considerable damage to this city."

Investigators estimate that the chronic underreporting of attendance at Rick's cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue.


I'm not a big fan of these clubs... but the only "damage" the city is really worried about is lost "revenue". They don't give two shits what's going on as long as they are getting their cut. Start trying to keep a little extra for yourself and big daddy brings down the hammer.


So...you talkin' 'bout organized crime, or the city?


The city (*county, state, fed)... but aren't those two the same thing sometimes?

Link Posted: 6/3/2008 4:12:03 PM EST
I kind of find myself agreeing with CrownandSeven on this one. We live in a society where school kids are encouraged by teachers to socialize, party, and engage in casual sex because it's all part of "finding yourself". Young adults go to dance clubs and bring chicks home for the cost of a few shots of alcohol. Yet, if you cut out all the crap and just want to pay for it - it's somehow nastier. Keep in mind, the Seattle City Council that's obsessed with keeping a yard between dancers and patrons, are the same group of people that turn a blind eye to public gay sex in volunteer park, freeway park, and the Washington parks arboretum. Apparently it's ok to put your dick through a glory hole in a Seattle parks restroom, but not to have a lap dance. I'm not making a moral judgement about strip clubs either for or against them. However, If I"m forced to accept public displays of homo's " expressing themselves", then surely I should have the right to pay for a sexy dance behind closed doors. Whether you agree with it or not just remember censorship of adult behavior is a slippery slope whether its a lap dance, a seat belt law, a helmet law, a gun law, etc - JUST LET ME LIVE ALREADY!!
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:24:55 PM EST
I love how they're calling 4 stripclubs a "criminal empire". Real law and order episode going on over here. I'm not sure if its an SVU episode or just regular L&O, but it certainly isn't enough for major case :)
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 5:32:55 PM EST
height=8
Investigators estimate that cost the city of Seattle more than $3,000 per month in lost tax revenue. That was based on data from a surveillance camera installed on a utility pole outside Rick's in June 2006 to count customers entering the establishment. Officials said they were conservative in counting "customers" - for example, women were not counted.


Isn't that because they don't charge women the cover charge? If you didn't charge them cover, then you don't owe any money to the city, do you? It might not be an official policy, but its been my experience.
Link Posted: 6/3/2008 6:18:24 PM EST

Originally Posted By gardnerjr:
I love how they're calling 4 stripclubs a "criminal empire". Real law and order episode going on over here. I'm not sure if its an SVU episode or just regular L&O, but it certainly isn't enough for major case :)



Ahhh Seattle... We SOOOO want to be a big City like NYC, Chicago, or LA, but we just aren't!

Link Posted: 6/4/2008 5:31:09 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/4/2008 6:40:44 AM EST by Da_Bunny]
That Frank, he's a Good Fella.

A lot of Seattle kids go to their national events on Frank's dime.
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 9:09:40 AM EST
I could have gotten poonaney at FOXS? Horseshit! Jesus, I have to research my criminal empires better before I drunkenly blow 40 bucks on a lapdance again.


I feel robbed.
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