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Dancers Routinely Performed sex acts on customers, But That’s All Over

from www.seattlenews.com – In a plea deal that demolishes what’s left of the notorious Colacurcio strip-club empire, Frank Colacurcio Jr. pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge and will serve one year and one day in prison.

The 48-year-old Colacurcio will likely be the only member of the operation to serve prison time. Attorneys for his ailing 93-year-old father have moved to dismiss some of the charges against him. The other four members of the operation have all pleaded guilty to prostitution- and racketeering-related charges, but with recommendations from federal prosecutors that they not be incarcerated.

All, however, have been hit in the pocketbook: the Colacurcio’s four strip clubs have been shuttered and the government seized the buildings and other property valued at a total of $4.5 million. The men are also banned from working in the adult-entertainment industry in Washington ever again.

On Friday, Colacurcio Jr. forfeited his interest in the properties and the offices of Talents West, the operation used to recruit dancers for the clubs. The men are also banned from working in the adult-entertainment industry in Washington ever again.

His attorney, John Wolfe, said his client has been singled out by the government because of his father’s notoriety and long-running skirmish with federal law enforcement. While he “accepts responsibility” for his role in operating the clubs, Wolfe said Colacurcio Jr. had “no greater involvement” than any of the other defendants, all of whom received probation as part of their deals.

During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors said that “Junior,” as he was known in the organization, once told a dancer who admitted to performing oral sex on a customer not to tell him about it.

“You’ve always been truthful, but don’t be honest with me,” he told the woman in a conversation caught on tape. “Let me ask you again. What happened?”

She replied, “Nothing.”

The FBI said dancers where routinely performing sex acts on customers in the club’s dimly lit “VIP” sections. The indictments alleged the club took a cut from these “private dances” and that the Colacurcios and their colleagues got rich. The four clubs were pulling in nearly $1 million a month, according to court documents.

The plea Friday was aimed at punishing the Colacurcios, who put together an empire that began with pinball and cigarette machines and became what U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan described as a “50-year scourge on the community.”

The whole time, Colacurcio Sr. has played cat-and-mouse with federal and local law-enforcement, making him one of Seattle’s most notorious racketeering figures. As far back as the 1950s, he was identified as a racketeer in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee and accused of using strong-arm tactics to control Seattle’s pinball trade.

“Senior,” as he’s often referred to, has served four federal prison terms, primarily for skimming cash to avoid taxes and violating the terms of his probation. According to the court documents, one confidential informant said there was an “open invitation” for dancers to earn between $150 and $1,000 by having sex with him.

Documents filed in the case related, in graphic detail, pervasive sex-related activities observed by confidential informants and undercover police officers working at the four clubs — Rick’s, in Seattle; Sugar’s, in Shoreline; Honey’s, in Everett; and Fox’s, in Parkland, Pierce County.

One officer infiltrated the organization and became a manager at Colacurcio’s flagship strip club, Rick’s, in Lake City. Federal agents used extensive wiretaps and recorded conversations at Talents West through microphones planted by the FBI.

But it was the 2003 “Strippergate” scandal at City Hall that set the downfall in motion. The Colacurcios got caught secretly funneling thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions through friends, relatives and business partners to the re-election campaigns of former Seattle City Council members Judy Nicastro, Heidi Wills and Jim Compton.

The contributions came shortly before the council approved a rezone that allowed Rick’s to add parking spaces as the club moved toward expanding and opening the VIP areas, where most of the sex was taking place.

The rezoning was opposed by neighbors and the city’s planning department. Nicastro and Wills were defeated in the election, and Compton, who was re-elected, later left the council. None of the council members was aware of the Colacurcios’ scheme, prosecutors said.

The elder Colacurcio and his son pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges, admitting they reimbursed others to skirt campaign-donation limits. The Colacurcios agreed to each pay $75,000 in criminal and civil penalties.

The Strippergate case revived law-enforcement interest in the Colacurcios, prompting the FBI and the other agencies to form a task force in 2005.

But the strip clubs continued to operate, initially as liquor establishments and then soda-pop clubs when state liquor rules were tightened.

Dancers were repeatedly cited by undercover police in recent years for engaging in prostitution and lewd conduct inside the clubs. Some floor managers were cited for permitting illegal conduct.

Additionally, investigators have looked at Colacurcio Sr. or his associates in the slayings of five people in the 1970s and 1980s. The victims were a rival strip-club operator and his fiancée, a bar owner in Central Washington, a mechanic in a murder-for-hire scheme, and a police informant.

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