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Fate of 2 strip clubs remains uncertain After Drug Raid

BUFFALO, N.Y. from www.wivb.com – The fate of two local strip clubs remains in limbo following Tuesday’s pre-dawn drug raids. The clubs are open, but a cloud of uncertainty hovers above. The State Liquor Authority confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it’s launched its own investigation.

The 24 Karat Gold Strip Club in Blasdell is open for business, as is Rick’s Tally Ho in Cheektowaga. Both locations were raided Tuesday by the Feds who seized a number of items in an ongoing investigation into heroin and cocaine trafficking.

FBI Special Agent in Charge James Robertson said, “Owners of both establishments weren’t charged. There’s no evidence linking them to criminal activity.”

News 4 obtained the 183 page criminal complaint which made no mention of either owner: Rick Tally Ho’s, Richard Snowden, and 24 Karat’s, Christina Whipple. A handful of their dancers and other workers were arrested on federal drug charges.

The State Liquor Authority is now conducting its own investigation to determine if the clubs should lose their liquor license. The owners, who hold the license, could also face fines for possible violations from the alleged drug use and prostitution inside the clubs due to poor supervision on site.

The FBI led Safe Streets Task Force made a strong case on Tuesday.

“I can tell you the narcotics and heroin in this case was being sold out of both establishments,” said Robertson.

The complaint documents the alleged heroin distribution network of Jay Vellon. The west side resident is accused of selling up to 60 bundles of heroin every three days, generating $3,500 or $28,000 a month. Some of his alleged sellers and users were dancers at the clubs who traded “sexual acts for a bundle.”

Our efforts to reach the owner at the Hamburg club were unsuccessful, but we did hear from Richard Snowden after our visit to Rick’s Tally Ho. He told News 4 that “he was completely unaware of what employees or patrons might be doing” and that in his 30 years in business, he always ran it according to the law.

Snowden moved to Buffalo from Las Vegas about six years ago. He believes that once the investigations are over, his business will continue to stay open. In the meantime, the State Liquor Authority was made aware of the lengthy federal investigation. At this time, it’s unclear how long its probe will take.

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