Jury deliberates in Atlanta strip club racketeering case
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A jury Monday began deciding the fate of the two remaining defendants on trial in a federal racketeering case involving an Atlanta, Georgia, strip club.
The jury deliberated the fates of a former police officer and a man accused of being part of organized crime.
Reginald Burney, a retired Atlanta police officer, is accused of accepting bribes from Gold Club owner Steve Kaplan in return for warning managers of permit checks and police raids. Michael DiLeonardo, who prosecutors allege is a captain in the Gambino organized crime family, stands accused of funneling protection money from Kaplan to New York mobsters.
Earlier this month Kaplan and four other defendants originally charged in the case accepted plea bargain agreements with federal prosecutors. Under terms of his agreement, Kaplan gave up ownership of the club, which has since closed.
Kaplan is expected to be fined $5 million and sentenced to up to three years in prison. Some of the other defendants are expected to appear in court Monday afternoon to enter guilty pleas to minor offenses.
The trial, which began in May, featured graphic testimony about sexual favors provided to celebrity athletes, allegedly paid for by Kaplan. Prosecutors said he made millions by using such enticements to encourage athletes to frequent the club, in the city's upscale Buckhead district, which in turn brought in other customers wanting to rub elbows with celebrities.
NBA star Patrick Ewing and Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones testified about having sex with Gold Club dancers who were paid for their services.
Prosecutors also charged that the club had ties to organized crime and that patrons' credit cards were billed with often thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
Burney was charged with racketeering for allegedly tipping off management about pending permit inspections by Atlanta police. In court Monday, his wife sat in the front row, smiling and generally upbeat about his prospects.
DiLeonardo, in his customary shiny blue suit, smiled at the spectators and sat peering over reading glasses at a copy of jury instructions as U.S. District Court Judge Willis Hunt read them.
During the trial, prosecutors introduced a videotape of Kaplan and DiLeonardo, also known as "Mikey Scars," sitting down with two New York nightclub owners in an alleged scheme that resulted in a payment to DiLeonardo of $100,000, which he is charged with funneling to the Gambinos.
DiLeonardo's lawyer -- former assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gillen -- offered no witnesses and submitted only limited portions of grand jury testimony suggesting his client knew nothing. Gillen is counting on little solid evidence linking DiLeonardo to Kaplan and the Gambinos as favorable to his client.
A portion of a video showed DiLeonardo with John Gotti Sr. and John Gotti Jr., before both went to jail, and other mobsters in New York more than 10 years ago. However, the judge did not allow the jury to see the "kiss," a moment DiLeonardo gives Gotti Sr., a respectful embrace.
|Back to the top|