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State Trying to Shut Down Four Galardi Strip Clubs in Tampa

TAMPA – One things’ for sure. The Galardi family has been in the news more this week than the Jackson family. This time it has to do with Galardi South Enterprises owned by Jack Galardi in Hillsborough County.
The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office filed lawsuits Friday asking a judge to force the owners of four Tampa strip clubs to forfeit their businesses.

The civil court lawsuits follow police raids Dec. 23 at Pink Pony, Pony Tails Lounge, Diamonds Show Club and Gold Rush Show Bar.

Police seized business records, cash, hundreds of condoms and other sex paraphernalia. They also arrested four club managers and an executive of Galardi South Enterprises, the company that owns the clubs.

Police and prosecutors allege the clubs are fronts for houses of prostitution.

Assistant State Attorney Richard Lawson said the lawsuits are based on the state’s racketeering act. People cannot profit from illegal acts. Therefore, Lawson said, the state can seek to confiscate any cash or property that stems from crimes.

At the time of the raids, police said they were not interested in closing the businesses. They only wanted them to comply with the law.

On Friday, Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober said he will not necessarily push the lawsuits all the way to forfeiture. If the companies make a good-faith effort to comply with the law, there would be no need to confiscate their property, he said.

But Ober also said he is “skeptical” of Galardi South Enterprises’ motives.

“If they want to play hardball, we’ll attempt to shut them down,” he said. “If we don’t come after them at this point in a very aggressive fashion, we are, I think, sending the wrong message.”

Galardi South Enterprises has referred all requests for comment to its Atlanta attorney, who did not return calls late Friday.

On Dec. 23, police executed a search warrant on the four clubs. Police arrested Brian Rouleau, executive director of operations for Galardi South Enterprises, which maintains a regional headquarters at Diamonds; Billy Holland, manager of Gold Rush; Glynn Coon, manager of Pony Tails; Aaron Hefte, night manager of Pink Pony; and Dewayne Levesque, manager of Pink Pony.

A week after the arrests, Galardi South Enterprises fired all five men and three other managers. Company officials issued a written apology to Tampa and to police that said they did not approve of local management’s actions.

Each of the men was charged with racketeering, a first-degree felony, and aiding or abetting prostitution. Police and prosecutors said racketeering charges were warranted because more than 30 prostitution arrests had been made at the clubs in 16 months.

Managers of businesses that profit from illegal acts can be charged under the organized crime law.

Friday’s lawsuits were filed against the five arrested men, the four clubs and Jack Galardi, the head of Galardi South Enterprises. Galardi himself is not charged with a crime in Hillsborough County.

 

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