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Proposed plea deal may close Colacurcio strip clubs

Seattle- Three key members of Frank Colacurcio Sr.’s [pictured] strip-club operation are involved in negotiations with federal prosecutors that could result in pleas to felony charges in exchange for an agreement that would permanently close the four clubs, sources say.

Three sources, all with direct knowledge of the case, said a deal could be struck between the government and the three defendants — club co-owners Steve Fueston, David Ebert and Leroy Christiansen — within a few weeks.

If it happens, it would mean a victory for federal and local law-enforcement officials who for years have been trying to close down Frank Colacurcio Sr.’s operations, long alleged to be fronts for prostitution and money laundering. It would also make good on a promise made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in July, when sweeping indictments against the men were unsealed, that authorities finally had enough ammunition to dismantle the Colacurcio nude-dancing empire.

Under the proposed plea deal, Fueston, Ebert and Christiansen would avoid prison time but be required to pay hefty fines, possibly in the millions, the sources say. They also would also be ordered never to operate strip clubs in Washington again.

As co-owners of the four clubs from Pierce County to Everett, the men’s agreement to the order would effectively close down the clubs, say the sources, who each spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The sources said there is no deal for the three defendants to testify against the 92-year-old Frank Colacurcio Sr. and his son, Frank Jr., 48, who are not part of the deal.

Attorneys for the three defendants declined to comment for this story.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg, who leads the prosecution, also declined to comment.

The Colacurcios and their associates are charged with multiple counts of racketeering and conspiracy to launder money and promote prostitution, which federal agents and police say has been a mainstay of the clubs’ business for years. They are scheduled to be tried in January.

The FBI, in conjunction with Seattle police, opened an investigation into the clubs in 2005 after the so-called “Strippergate” scandal, in which Colacurcio secretly funneled campaign contributions to former Seattle City Councilmembers Heidi Wills, Judy Nicastro and Jim Compton as the council was considering Colacurcio’s request to add parking spaces at Rick’s, a club on Lake City Way Northeast.

The elder Colacurcio and his son pleaded guilty in January 2008 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 and their clubs, prompting the FBI and the other agencies to form a task force in 2005.


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