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Platinum Plus Strip Club Owner Ralph Lunati Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – [MyFox Memphis] Notorious Memphis strip club owner Ralph Lunati pleaded guilty to racketeering. His plea agreement, made Monday with the federal government, requires that he hand over two of his clubs.

Platinum Plus and Tunica Caberet are now property of the federal government. So is the nearly $230,000 seized from the clubs the night they were raided and shutdown by police.

Attorney Ted Hansom tells us it’s a deal his client can live with.

After years of police raids and violations, Lunati struck a deal on racketeering and prostitution charges.

Hansom said since a plea agreement was reached before the case went to the grand jury, Lunati will pay no fines and spend 18 months rather than 20 years or more in prison.

“I think he’s just tired,” said Hansom. “He did not want to go and put his family through another three to five years in court.”

Lunati is 62-years-old and his wife is ill. Hansom said a trial and appeals would have taken years. He said lunati will likely serve his time at a federal prison camp, possibly in Millington, where security is a lot lighter.

“People in this situation are doing fixed time,” he said. “They want to go home. They’re not trying to escape.”

Hansom, though, admits he was looking forward to trying Lunati’s case in court.

Two years ago this December, Memphis police shut down two of Lunati’s clubs, Platinum Plus and Tunica Caberet, after an undercover investigation.

During the investigation, police said they gathered evidence of girls giving live sex shows.

“Yes, that conduct went on,” said Hansom. “But Mr. Lunati did not pay the dancers, did not receive any money the patrons threw on them.”

Hansom said that despite Tennessee’s passing a more broad interpretation of prostitution years ago, lewd conduct in the club earned Lunati a $50 city violation. But hansom said the 2006 raid changed the charges to prostitution.

“The connection was the ATM,” he said. “When you went to an ATM machine to get out money to throw money on stage, Mr. Lunati made money.”

The five dollar ATM charge and 10 percent credit card charge Lunati was allegedly passing on to patrons, meant federal intervention and federal charges of racketeering.

John Bernstein and Jason Youngblood, managers at one of Tunica Cabaret, also plead guilty to racketeering.

Lunati will be sentenced in federal court on February 15. However, his attorney said that if the judge decides to give him more than 18 months, the deal is off.


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