SAN DIEGO — Federal investigators are looking into claims by strip-club owner Michael Galardi that FBI agents received improper gratuities at two of his clubs.
Galardi claims 15 to 20 agents were regular customers at his Las Vegas strip clubs. He said the agents who left business cards may have been at the clubs on official business, but received free services nonetheless.
Galardi is at the center of a criminal investigation involving three San Diego City Council members.
Two weeks ago he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with authorities.
Back Story: The man accused of corrupting three City Council members made a change of plea in connection with the bribery scandal that has plagued City Hall.
Michael Galardi, owner of Cheetah’s Strip Club in San Diego and two clubs in Las Vegas, appeared in federal court and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
He had pleaded not guilty on Sept. 2 to 38 counts of conspiracy, racketeering, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and extortion.
The 41-year-old will face a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is formally sentenced on Jan. 5. He remains free on $250,000 bond.
Galardi is accused of trying to buy influence from council members Ralph Inzunza, Michael Zucchet, and Charles Lewis in a scheme to repeal a city ordinance prohibiting nude dancers from touching patrons.
His lawyer read a statement Monday in which Galardi acknowledged that the no touch law was hurting his business. He also said that he paid for travel and lodging expenses for Lewis during a trip to Las Vegas.
Lewis earlier claimed that he paid for the trip with his own funds.
Lewis, Inzunza and Zucchet have pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Galardi also admitted in court to giving money to a San Diego police officer in order to get advance information on vice raids at his strip clubs.
When Galardi left the courthouse he made no comment to reporters.
Galardi is not the only one in connection with the scandal to change his plea. A manager for one of his strip clubs, John D’Intino, pleaded guilty last to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to possess unregulated firearms.
D’Intino’s attorney said in court that he admitted he conspired to corrupt Inzunza, Zucchet, and Lewis.
D’Intino said he was working with Galardi to give $5,000 to Lewis, $2,000 to an undercover San Diego police officer and $2,000 in various checks to Zucchet at a fund-raiser.