Lawyer stages a table dance at strip club racketeering trial
ATLANTA (AP) – A lawyer for a dancer accused of having sex with pro athletes at an Atlanta strip club stood on a courtroom table Tuesday and peeled off his jacket with a flourish as he maintained that his client was simply very successful at her job – stripping.
And sometimes, lawyer Bruce Harvey told jurors, ”sex is just sex.”
The theatrics came as defense attorneys wrapped up opening statements in the racketeering trial of Gold Club owner Steve Kaplan and six associates, disputing federal charges that Kaplan ran a high-profile sex shop and funneled money to the Gambino crime family in New York.
The government plans to call basketball star Patrick Ewing and football running backs Jamal Anderson and Terrell Davis as witnesses.
Harvey’s client, Jacklyn Bush, is charged with taking money from Kaplan for providing sex to basketball stars.
Harvey acknowledged that sex acts sometimes happened at the club, but said his client never took money for sex and did nothing but strip, which is legal in Atlanta.
Along with his tabletop performance, he quoted Bush as saying: ”’I’m being charged with being very good at what I do.”’
The judge ordered him back to the floor.
Harvey continued: ”With all apologies to Sigmund Freud, sometimes sex is just sex. It’s not illegal to have sex, I hope. It’s not illegal, it’s not prostitution. Let’s don’t confuse sex or immorality with illegality.”
Defense attorneys say encouraging patrons to run up thousand-dollar tabs is no crime. They accuse the government of making a morality play out of the trial and trying to frighten jurors into returning a guilty verdict.
”They want to decide what we can see and what we cannot see in our society,” said Dwight Thomas, who represents a former Atlanta police officer accused of accepting sex in exchange for tipping the club off about permit inspections.
The defense hammered at the credibility of witnesses it expects the government to call, painting them as criminals willing to say anything in exchange for having their prison sentences reduced.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Art Leach has acknowledged that the government would call witnesses with criminal records to prove that Kaplan reported to John A. ”Junior” Gotti, the acting boss of the Gambino crime family after his father was imprisoned. The younger Gotti, also a federal prisoner, was brought to Atlanta to testify.
”The government witnesses will come in here and look like a rogues’ gallery,” said attorney Craig Gillen. ”We will fight them with the truth – their worst enemy.”
Charges against the defendants include obstruction, credit card fraud and loan sharking. Kaplan also is accused of ordering the beatings of about 20 people who did not repay high-interest loans.
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A $20,000 fine and permanent ban could eventually await those operating vacation home rentals in Douglas County without a permit.