Z Bone Zone
Z Bone's Media Bites For 2001
When the traditional media wants to jack-up their ratings, where can they go for some good titillation? They go straight to the strip clubs! What LA strip club or dancer is showing up on TV or in print? Find out right here. Who knows, you just might find some interesting news here too.


Stripper Faces Trial For Alleged Cyber-stalking
December 19, 2001


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Las Vegas stripper accused of posting photos of herself having sadomasochistic sex with a married political cartoonist on the Internet after he ended their affair was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on extortion and cyber-stalking charges.

Robin Kelly -- a self-described topless dancer named "Ruby Tuesday," hair-stylist and former professional wrestler known as "The Red Snapper" -- faces a possible eight years and four months in prison if convicted on eight criminal counts.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Roland Purnell ordered Kelly to stand trial on charges of attempted extortion, stalking, witness intimidation, violating a restraining order and making harassing telephone calls.

Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Tom Temple said Kelly, 43, was the first defendant in the southern California community, which borders Los Angeles County, to stand trial on charges of stalking over the Internet.

"This is the first case of cyber-stalking that I'm aware of that's been prosecuted by this office," Temple said.

Prosecutors say that Kelly, a former dancer at Snooky's topless club, had a seven year extra-marital affair with Jim Day, a political cartoonist for the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper.

When Day broke off the affair, prosecutors charge, Kelly was unhappy and blamed him for the loss of her apartment.

Prosecutors allege that after Kelly moved to the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley earlier this year she set up a Web site called The Politics of Jim Day that featured the two of them engaged in sadomasochism and bondage as well as pictures of his house and car and directions to his home.

Kelly was arrested in November and the web site has since been dismantled by authorities.

Kelly also allegedly sent the material to Day's work and home, made physical threats against the cartoonist and tried to choke his wife, prosecutors charge.

Purnell ordered Kelly to stand trial after two police officers testified that her Web site and other activities "destroyed" Day's reputation and led to him being ostracized at work.

Temple said Kelly could also face charges from Las Vegas prosecutors.



A Hit Man's Guilt
December 16, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

Through the plate glass separating prisoners from visitors, John Patrick Sheridan talks about the secret he kept for a decade. He explains how loyalty to a drinking buddy and a promise of $25,000 were enough for him to murder someone. He describes how he planned the killing and rehearsed it, and then pulled it off without a hitch. Yes, he says, he was lucky for a first-time hit man. Lucky, that is, except for one thing. He failed to consider the person who stepped forward 10 years later and fingered him, sending him to prison. That person was himself.

In the autumn of 2001, Sheridan is being held in a cell in the Santa Ana City Jail, awaiting his prison term for murder. He looks young for 39, slim and handsome--thick black hair, almond eyes and the tawny skin that is a blending of his Chinese and Irish genes. He is held in isolation 23 hours each day, left with only one hour to shave, shower, watch TV and make phone calls. This is not punishment, though. It is the same protection given to any snitch who would be in danger in the jail population.

Sheridan is an intelligent 10th-grade dropout from Agoura, a drug dealer and a chronic user from age 11, a strip-club roustabout before he became a contract killer. He can be a fun guy without a gun in his hand. He punctuates sentences with a merry laugh and is disarmingly frank about his life, including one particular night 12 years ago. John Sheridan was in a place that made him uncomfortable. He had been there several times, but had backed away on every occasion, lacking the resolve to pull the trigger. This time he sat hunched down, obscured by darkness and a low wall, sipping beer from a bottle and caressing the stubby barrel of his Uzi automatic weapon. Every set of car lights that approached made him tense. Could this be the one? But every car continued straight down Carbon Canyon Road. Each time, Sheridan leaned back, knowing that the car would eventually come.

The man Sheridan awaited was Horace "Big Mac" McKenna Jr., a New Orleans native and a bodybuilder who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed almost 300 pounds. At 46, McKenna was mean, tough and a bully. But he liked animals, especially those that could eat humans, a species he was not especially fond of.

As Sheridan waited, McKenna was lounging in the rear seat of a luxury car gliding through Orange County. It was about 12:30 a.m. on March 9, 1989, still early for a sporting man, but he relaxed with the assurance that comes with being big-time and uncontested.

Sheridan looked at his watch again and again. Could he pull the trigger this time? Certain expectations had been created. Back in L.A., a scary guy was waiting near a telephone for a call, and when it rang he expected to be told: "It's done." A hit man is not without job pressures. The news would reassure Michael Woods, 48, McKenna's partner in three strip clubs--the Valley Ball in Van Nuys and Bare Elegance and Jet Strip in Los Angeles.

The businesses had made both men wealthy, but that is about where the similarity ended. Ruthless use of people had brought McKenna an abundance of money and compliant men and women who feared him. His large estate was filled with wonders: a mock boot hill, the facade of a Western town, Arabian horses and exotic animals. He dressed pet monkeys in tuxedos and even had a Bengal tiger. He also had a caiman, an alligator-like animal, but it froze to death. He did all of this on a reported gross annual income of $44,000. The man could stretch a dollar.

Compared to McKenna, Woods was as plain as a glass of milk. He lived in a sedate but expensive house tucked away in Westlake Village, nothing at all like McKenna's splashy 35-acre estate with its sprawling Spanish-style house in Brea. The great gulf between the men's personalities eventually drove them far apart. Trying to steal each other blind probably didn't help.

The rift widened, witnesses would later say, when Woods hired David Amos from England. Amos, then 21, was brought in as a club bouncer and he promptly created an aura around himself. He was even reputed to have been a British commando. The truth is, according to Amos' brother Tony, that he never got out of boot camp. Amos, however, was nearly as big as McKenna, just as buff and much younger. The older man took an instant dislike to Woods' burly new enforcer, the witnesses say.

As McKenna sped through that early morning blackness in 1989, the sweet deal he and Woods enjoyed was under attack from the Los Angeles County district attorney and state tax authorities. The men had been accused of skimming large chunks of cash from the nightly takes at the clubs. At the same time, McKenna's drug-influenced behavior was becoming more unpredictable and abusive. On at least one occasion, he and Woods engaged in a shouting argument, and McKenna took a big swing at the smaller man. Woods claimed that McKenna threatened to rape his daughters.

McKenna's car slowed and made the turn into his secluded driveway at 6200 Carbon Canyon Road. His driver was Bob Berg, an unaggressive born-again Christian nicknamed "Bible Bob." The car stopped as Berg began his entry routine, which involved getting out to open the gate, driving through, then getting out again to close the gate.

When the interior light went on, McKenna pushed himself up to a sitting position. As Berg got back in, Sheridan quietly slid the bolt on his Uzi and stepped from his hiding place. The interior light clicked off. Sheridan was alongside the passenger rear window, which was partially open. He could see McKenna's dark form moving in the back seat. He raised the gun and pulled the trigger. The 9-millimeter clip emptied with the staccato sound of fingers sweeping across piano keys. The window disintegrated. At least 20 bullets thudded into McKenna's torso. Through the broken glass, Sheridan heard him say calmly, almost in wonderment, "I've been shot." With that, the stunned but unhurt Berg slammed the car into gear and shot up the hill. Sheridan sprinted for his own car down the street.

Minutes later, after Sheridan put miles behind him, he pulled into a 7-Eleven parking lot and grabbed a pay phone. "That job you wanted done? Well, it's done," he said. There was a pause, then a man with a British accent answered. It was Amos, Woods' main man. "All right. That's good," he replied.

John Patrick Sheridan, assassin, went out and got drunk.

McKenna's funeral drew a crowd of 300, a few no doubt wanting to make sure he was dead. The coffin was draped in an American flag, and there was a photo on an easel of McKenna on horseback. The spiffed-up monkeys were not there. Mike Woods was not there. The congregation listened to a priest trying to convince them that God's goodness was so vast that even Big Mac's soul was not out of the running, a bet that Vegas oddsmakers would have taken off the board.

As Sheridan talks on the other side of the jail glass, he struggles with emotions that are at odds with the unsavory world he occupied. This new language of "feelings" is foreign, and his vocabulary for expressing them is small. He takes refuge in a gruff, Clint Eastwood-style explanation: "I did what I did and I gotta pay the price."

The paradox of Sheridan's being behind bars is huge. He didn't have to be here. He was virtually untouchable by the law because there were no witnesses to the crime. As he says, "I didn't leave my wallet behind." Certainly, the men who hired him weren't going to snitch. So why is he here now? The answer rests with two things we admire, family and God, and two things we do not, fear and hate.

Sheridan had long been a strip-club hanger-on, which is how he met Amos. The two became drinking buddies. In 1988, Amos raised the subject of murder. "We were friends, and he first asked if I knew anyone who could take care of 'a difficult job.' He kept talking, and I figured out what he was talking about and who was the target. I also knew he was really asking me to take care of it." He pauses. "I told him he was nuts."

Sheridan laughs at the recollection because, at the time, he was snitching for Ventura County cops in an attempt to avoid prison. "I was out on bail at the time on drug charges, and I was, like, going to friends and saying, 'If there's anyone you don't like who's selling drugs, let me know and I'll turn them in.' " When Amos approached with the murder proposal, he unwittingly gave Sheridan a terrific opportunity to improve his standing with police. "Man, if David wasn't my friend, I had a murder for hire. I could have turned him in, and I would have been home free."

But Sheridan didn't. He liked his friend, and could use the money. Besides, he was hard into cocaine and alcohol, and his judgment did not serve him that well--especially after Amos sold him on the idea that if McKenna weren't killed, Amos himself would be "whacked" by Big Mac. After considering it for more than three months, Sheridan went back to Amos and said, "You know that job you were talking about? I can get it done."

Whatever he was thinking--or not thinking--at the time, Sheridan had signed on. However, he soon developed cold feet and approached a friend, who tried without success to persuade the Hells Angels to do the deed. When they declined, Sheridan felt trapped. Veiled comments by Amos convinced him that if he didn't do the killing, he could be in danger himself. So he bought the Uzi on the street for $1,200. ("So much for gun control," he says with a laugh.)

For the murder, Sheridan says he was paid $25,000 and given a job at the clubs. But in late 1989 he was sent to prison for two years on a cocaine bust. After his release, he resumed his strip-club job and spent almost a decade working in various manager roles. His salary at the clubs never topped $3,000 a month--even though, he says without bitterness, he watched Amos and Woods rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it taken out of the till before taxes. He admits to having stolen some himself.

Woods had made Amos a partner shortly after the killing as a payoff for arranging the McKenna murder. For the next decade, the two men dominated the L.A. strip club industry. They ran their clubs, raked in cash, bought boats and expensive cars--a Humvee and Mercedes for Amos, a Lexus and Mercedes for Woods. In the ultimate act of L.A. narcissism, they even made two minor movies, produced by Woods and featuring Amos in acting roles. Amos fancied himself an actor and liked to pal around with fringe Hollywood types.

Sheridan's life was less exotic, although he had one thing that neither Amos nor Woods claimed: a sense of guilt. About seven years after the killing, Sheridan was told by an unsuspecting Bob Berg that as McKenna's car sped up the driveway, the stricken man had said to his chauffeur, "Tell my mom I love her." A cynic might say that Big Mac should have talked about his mother more often. But for Sheridan, hearing those words forced him to look at what he had done. He says he cried, and guilt began to percolate. As time passed, he quietly began grieving for McKenna's family and prayed for his victim, using words he says will remain "between me and God."

He also was troubled when he saw the autopsy photos. "The guy really was a mess," he says, shaking his head. He tries to put himself into his victim's place, but his thinking is muddled. "I certainly wouldn't appreciate anyone jumping out of the bushes and taking me out. Mac didn't know what was happening, and all of a sudden he was dying."

Woods and Amos were suspects immediately after the killing, but investigators had no luck making a case. Eight years passed. Then, in 1997, the case drew the attention of Rick Morton, a 26-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who had joined the Orange County district attorney's office three years before. Morton and his team conducted interview after interview with dancers, cronies and club employees. The answer to the question, "Who killed McKenna?" was often the same: Woods, and maybe Amos. Even Woods' brother Richard thought so. But as hard as Morton and his team worked, by 2000 they had little new information.

They were about to get lucky.

When Sheridan heard about the Orange County investigation, he began to worry--in ways Woods and Amos did not. All three had to fear the cops. But Sheridan also had to watch over his shoulder for his bosses. It wasn't hard to figure out why: He had left no biological evidence of the crime and had destroyed the gun. There were no witnesses. He was home free, and so were Woods and Amos--provided Sheridan kept quiet. As Morton says, "The ultimate loss of control is the danger of someone you don't trust being able to put you on death row."

Fearful that Sheridan might talk, Woods and Amos gave him another $10,000. Even so, Sheridan believed he eventually would be "whacked" by the partners. "One time, Mike invited me to go to Lake Mead with him and David and go out on his boat." He laughs merrily. "I wasn't that dumb." He believes that had the situation continued, he would have had to kill Woods to save himself. "Other than going to the cops, that was my only option."

Sheridan also had developed an interest in religion, and in February 2000 he went to a Catholic priest and unburdened himself about the murder. He didn't stop there. He also went to the police and confessed.

Police wanted stronger evidence and persuaded Sheridan to wear a wire in the hope that Amos would incriminate himself. From February to October of 2000, Sheridan spent hours with Amos, using every opportunity to discuss the murder and their respective roles. Sheridan couldn't use the same tactic with Woods because Amos had been his sole contact on the killing, and an approach to Woods at that point would have aroused suspicion.

Wearing a wire was dangerous. If Amos checked for the device, Sheridan might have found out very quickly what God thought of him. But the ploy worked. On Oct. 26, 2000, police arrested Amos for murder and brought him face to face with Sheridan. Shaken, Amos agreed to wear a wire for a meeting with Woods. The next day, Woods and Amos had lunch at Jerry's Famous Deli in Woodland Hills. Investigators listening to the conversation heard Woods discussing ways to continue covering up the killing. He was arrested immediately after leaving the restaurant.

An Orange County jury convicted Woods on Sept. 7 of first-degree murder. He will be sentenced next month to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Amos, for his cooperation, was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years.

Sheridan also was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter for the contract murder--a crime that could have earned him the death penalty. He, too, has been sentenced to 20 years, of which he will have to serve at least half. "I wasted my life," Sheridan says from his seat beyond the glass. "I wasted my wife's life. I understand that." Sheridan's wife, once a nude dancer, is now a born-again Christian who, he says, supported his decision to step forward because they both wanted to start over, free and clear of the strip-club life. She has since moved to another state to try to hold her family together. Asked how she is doing, he says, "Not well."

Visits with his kids are rare and painful because he is reminded of all that he has thrown away. "When my 8-year-old girl asks when I'm coming home, I have to tell her it'll be when she's in college." The girl explains to people that her "daddy killed a bad guy." Yet despite his new religion, Sheridan cultivates a hatred for Woods that he says provided additional impetus for going to the police. By doing so, he says, he prevented additional killings that Woods would have commissioned, including his own.

He also resents Woods for being cheap, duplicitous and sexually using the dancers. "Mike messed with me and messed with a lot of people over a lot of years. I want Mike to have a long life so he can suffer. If Mike had had the guts to kill me himself, he wouldn't be in the mess he's in. I want him to think about that until the day he dies."

The time in prison will also give Sheridan time to think. He can probably use all of it, for the odd truth is that Sheridan still can't explain why he did it, why he agreed to coldly aim an assault weapon at a fellow with whom he had no quarrel. Ask him the question a hundred different ways, and he cannot provide a single satisfying answer. Ultimately, an answer emerges: A screwed-up drug abuser committed murder primarily because he was a screwed-up drug abuser.



Court Rules Sex Show Is Not A Form Of Prostitution
October 31, 2001

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -- A state appeals court ruled that paying two female entertainers to perform sex shows inside an adult club is not prostitution.

The ruling issued Tuesday by the 4th District Court of Appeal marks the first time that the court reviewed a case involving sexual conduct in front of a paying audience classified as prostitution by prosecutors.

The court's decision also clears two managers and eight dancers at the Flesh Nightclub in San Bernardino of prostitution, pimping and pandering charges.

Prosecutors filed the case because they alleged the sex acts witnessed inside the club last year by undercover police officers was prostitution. The officers posing as customers paid to watch the sex shows.

Attorneys who represented the dancers and managers said the officers were not involved in the sexual contact and paid only to watch the shows inside a private room.

In a split opinion, two of the three justices agreed.

"We conclude that the definition of prostitution ... requires sexual contact between the prostitute and the customer," wrote Justices James D. Ward and Barton C. Gaut in their majority opinion. "In this case, it is undisputed that there was no sexual contact between the dancers and the officers. Without sexual contact, there can be no prostitution."

Justice Betty A. Richli filed a dissenting opinion in favor of finding the sex acts as illegal prostitution.

"I'm so delighted because I've said all along it was a misuse of the law, and the city of San Bernardino should be spending its money elsewhere," said Roger Jon Diamond, an attorney who represented the strip club employees.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the appeals court ruling until they had a chance to review it. It wasn't immediately known whether prosecutors will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

The battle between city officials and the club has lasted for years. City officials won a court injunction to close the club but later lost the fight on appeal and the business reopened in 1999.

The ruling will be published that will make the case binding in all state courts. It also creates a legal precedent that can be cited by attorneys in other cases.


Strip-Club Partner Guilty in '89 Murder
September 8, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

A former CHP officer accused of ordering the slaying of a man who co-owned several nude dance clubs with him was convicted of first-degree murder Friday, 12 1/2 years after Horace "Big Mac" McKenna was gunned down outside his Brea mansion.

Michael Woods, 59, dropped his head as the guilty verdict touched off commotion in the Santa Ana courtroom. Woods' wife and two grown daughters sobbed hysterically, prompting a bailiff to ask them to calm down.

The silver-haired Woods, sitting at the defense table, turned toward his family and said softly, "Don't cry." At the back of the public gallery, McKenna's 35-year-old son wiped away tears. The verdict capped a two-week trial in which prosecutors accused Woods of paying his bodyguard $50,000 to arrange the slaying in a bold attempt to win sole control of the strip clubs he operated with McKenna.

Outside court, Michael McKenna said he was relieved that jurors had finally ended the mystery into who was behind his father's death, long considered one of Southern California's most sensational whodunits.

"It's like I can finally stop wondering now. My dad can now rest and I can now rest," McKenna said. "To me, it's finally over."

The killing went unsolved until last year, when a longtime police informant surfaced and told investigators with the Orange County district attorney's office that he committed the crime--at the request of Woods.

Organized crime investigators went undercover for nearly a year before making arrests. On Friday, detectives said they were relieved to resolve what had been a "cold case" for too many years.

"It was a long ordeal. I'm glad it's over for [McKenna's] family," said district attorney's investigator Tom Stewart. "The right thing was done."

But Woods' attorneys said they were disappointed and vowed to appeal, saying their client was denied a fair trial.

They criticized prosecutors and Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino for preventing them from cross-examining the alleged hit man. Had John Patrick Sheridan been forced to testify, Woods' attorneys said, they could have exposed inconsistencies in the case and proved that Woods had nothing to do with the killing.

"It put us at a terrible disadvantage," said lawyer Richard Hirsch. "To me, not being allowed to call him [as a witness] is a miscarriage of justice."

Hirsch said Woods firmly believed the jury of seven men and five women would acquit him.

"He's shocked by the verdict. He's very upset," the attorney said.

Woods faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors and prosecutors declined to comment on the case.

Woods and McKenna met in the 1960s while working as California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers in Los Angeles. McKenna was forced out of the CHP and Woods resigned his position in the 1970s, and the two became business associates in several nude clubs, including Bare Elegance and the New Jet Strip.

McKenna--a 300-pound bodybuilder--died after being hit by machine gun fire as he sat in a chauffeured limousine outside a Brea estate that housed a menagerie of exotic animals.

Prosecutors charged that Woods had grown tired of being bullied by his flamboyant business partner and had asked his bodyguard, David Amos, to arrange McKenna's murder.

During the trial, Amos testified that Woods believed McKenna had threatened at one point to rape his daughters. In response to that threat, Amos said, Woods asked him to hire a hit man, Sheridan.

Prosecutors let jurors hear a tape recording made last year of Amos and Woods discussing the March 9, 1989, murder over lunch at Jerry's Famous Deli in Studio City.

In the exchange, captured on a hidden device, Amos said he was worried about Sheridan's loyalty because the hit man had complained he was never paid as promised.

"Well, I hate to say this, but you're the one . . . you told me you would take care of Johnny," Woods told Amos on the tape.

"I know," Amos responded. "I thought he forgot about it. I mean, you said you'd do it, and I forgot to give it to him . . . I mean he can't prove it's you."

"Yeah," Woods replied.

But defense attorneys argued at trial that it was Amos who wanted McKenna dead, and that he had hatched the idea on his own and had paid a hit man to commit the crime.

Both Amos and Sheridan have received consideration for their cooperation with authorities in the case. They have agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and receive 20-year prison sentences.



1989 Strip-Club Killing Trial Opens
August 23, 2001

By STUART PFEIFER, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times

They were the odd couple of the strip-club world, the brawny enforcer who ruled with his fists and the brainy executive, nearly a foot shorter, who handled the books.

Horace McKenna and Michael Woods ran a chain of popular Los Angeles County strip clubs for more than a decade until one night in 1989, when their partnership ended with machine-gun fire.

On Wednesday, an Orange County prosecutor told a Superior Court jury that Woods turned against his longtime partner so he could take over the clubs, paying his bodyguard to kill the man most people called "Big Mac." That bodyguard, David Amos, is expected to be the prosecution's star witness against Woods. Woods' lawyers presented a sharply different version as the trial opened in Santa Ana. They contend that Amos is the one who wanted McKenna dead, that he hatched the idea on his own and paid a hit man to commit the crime.

"The responsibility, the plan and the scheme to kill Horace McKenna rests squarely upon the shoulders of one person, David Amos," said Woods' lawyer, Vicki Podberesky.

McKenna was arriving at his Brea hillside estate in a chauffeur-driven limousine March 9, 1989, when a gunman emerged from the darkness and shot him repeatedly with an Uzi.

The crime went unsolved for more than a decade until January 2000, when a longtime police informant surfaced and told district attorney investigators he committed the crime--at the request of Woods and Amos.

After a lengthy undercover investigation, authorities arrested Woods, Amos and admitted hit man John Patrick Sheridan in October. At one point in the investigation, Amos wore a hidden recording wire while discussing the crime with Woods, the prosecutor said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Bruce Moore said Woods paid Amos $50,000 and a 40% stake in three strip clubs to kill McKenna, a 300-pound bodybuilder. Amos in turn paid $25,000 to Sheridan, who actually committed the killing, Moore said.

After the killing, Amos stepped into McKenna's role, helping Woods run the clubs now known as Bare Elegance, the New Jet Strip and Valley Ball.

Amos and Woods also went into the movie business, producing two action movies with striking similarities to the McKenna case. In one of them, "Flipping," one gangster works secretly for the police, gathering information for prosecutors, just as Amos did years later in real life.

Both Amos and Sheridan have received consideration for their cooperation in the case. They have agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and receive 20-year prison sentences after Woods' trial.



A Legal Victory for Topless Bars
August 22, 2001

By ANNA GORMAN, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times

In a Corona case that could affect topless bars throughout California, a state appeals board has ruled that a Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation restricting topless dancing infringes on the dancers' constitutional rights.

The decision could make it more difficult for the department to suspend or revoke licenses of topless bars.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board decided that the regulation, forbidding women from touching parts of their bodies while dancing topless, violated the 1st Amendment. In a decision made public this week, panel members wrote that the regulation infringed on the rights of expression of Angel's Sports Bar owner Renee Vicary and her dancers. The decision means the department can no longer discipline a licensed bar for permitting certain conduct by topless dancers unless that dancing is considered lewd or obscene. The board considers such issues separately.

Vicary's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, called the Aug. 16 ruling a victory for topless cabarets throughout the state.

"It's a weapon in the arsenal to stop the onslaught against protected speech," said Diamond, who frequently represents adult entertainment clubs. "It will make it much more difficult for cities to try to go after these clubs because it says that this kind of conduct is protected by the 1st Amendment."

Department May Appeal the Ruling

Diamond added that bars no longer have to be worried about the ABC taking away their licenses if their dancers touch themselves while dancing.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has until next month to decide whether to ask the state appellate court to review the case.

"The ball is in our court," said department spokesman Carl DeWing. "We are just reviewing our options to decide whether we intend to basically appeal."

He declined to comment specifically on the ruling.

Loyola law professor Karl Manheim said the ruling will affect the department, but its effect on cities depends on how much they use the ABC to "enforce their moral standards."

Cities trying to shut down topless and nude clubs sometimes call the department to report possible violations.

Some city councils pass their own ordinances--ranging from zoning regulations to rules prohibiting physical contact between dancers and patrons--in an attempt to shut down bars, Manheim said.

Such measure are often too restrictive to hold up in court. "There is a tendency of cities to go too far and try to regulate more than they constitutionally can," he said. "That's when they get into trouble."

Manheim said California courts that are asked to make rulings on the constitutionality of city ordinances will probably not pay that much attention to the appeals board ruling.

Vicary has run Angels Sports Bar in Corona since 1992 and has provided topless dancing since 1996, according to legal papers in the case.

State regulations prohibit bars from serving alcohol if they offer nude dancing. But bars such as Vicary's can serve alcohol if their dancers are topless and follow ABC regulations.

In 1999, department agents reported that seven women dancers had violated one of those regulations: a rule prohibiting dancers from touching, caressing or fondling themselves. The rule says those actions are "deemed contrary to public welfare and morals."

'Expressive Element of the Dance'

In response to the reports, an administrative law judge in February 2000 suspended Vicary's license to sell alcohol.

Vicary appealed the decision to the board, which is made up of members appointed by the governor. The appeals board determined that the dancers' actions were part of the "expressive element of the dance."

Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU staff attorney who has fought the ABC in a previous case, said he believes the department should not be worrying about what dancers are doing.

"The ABC should be in the business of regulating alcohol," he said. "They shouldn't go beyond that."



'89 Killing Suspect Cuts Deal
July 27, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

One of the accused masterminds in the 1989 machine-gun slaying of a flamboyant Los Angeles strip-club owner has cut a deal with prosecutors in which he will become a star prosecution witness in a trial set to start next week.

British immigrant David Amos will receive a reduced sentence for his testimony against Michael Woods, the man police say ordered the club owner's killing.

Authorities allege that Woods wanted Horace "Big Mac" McKenna of Brea dead so he could take over his Los Angeles County strip-club empire. Woods allegedly gave Amos the money to hire a hit man. After the slaying, Woods became the clubs' majority owner, with Amos, his former bodyguard, holding a stake, according to court documents. The 1989 ambush slaying of McKenna outside his Brea estate went unsolved until last year when the triggerman confessed and agreed to help implicate Amos and Woods.

Woods, Amos and confessed killer John Patrick Sheridan have been in jail without bail since their arrests in October.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the case. But Woods' attorney, Vicki Podberesky, said that in exchange for his testimony, Amos will receive a sentence of 20 years, making him eligible for parole within 10 years.

With the deal, prosecutors will present testimony from two of the three men accused in McKenna's murder, both saying that Woods planned the killing. Still, Podberesky said Amos will not make a believable witness.

"We're going to prove he's not a credible witness," she said. "The only people culpable for this murder are teaming up against my client."

In addition to Amos' and Sheridan's testimony, prosecutors are expected to introduce a transcript of a secretly recorded lunch conversation in October during which Amos and Woods discussed the killing.

"If I take the fall for you, what are you going to do? . . . Are you going to look after my family?" Amos asked, according to a transcript of the conversation.

"Yes, Dave," Woods replied.

A few hours before the conversation, investigators with the district attorney's office had arrested Amos and asked him to cooperate. Amos declared he would not testify at Woods' trial but recently agreed to cooperate, attorneys said.

Woods and McKenna worked together as California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers in Los Angeles before becoming business associates in several nude clubs around Southern California.

McKenna, a 6-foot-6 bodybuilder, was forced out of the CHP in the 1970s and spent four years in federal prison for passing counterfeit money. He was sent back to prison on a parole violation.

Despite his troubles, McKenna turned the strip clubs' profits into a lavish lifestyle that included a 40-acre hilltop estate, where he housed wild animals.

He died in a hail of machine-gun fire on March 9, 1989, as he sat in a limousine outside his home.



Judge Tells City to License Strip Club
July 6, 2001

Daily Bulletin

POMONA - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled the city must issue a business license to an organization that wants to open a striptease club in the eastern part of the city.

According to a tentative decision by Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige, the city must issue a business license to Advanced Entertainment Inc. owned by Bill Dannels and Calvin Wong. The businessmen want to open an adult cabaret in a converted warehouse at 1405 E. Mission Blvd.

City spokeswoman Lilia Rodriguez said Thursday the city had no comment.

"We are not making any comments at this time because (the matter) is still under litigation,'' Rodriguez said.

The lawyer representing Advanced Entertainment, Roger Jon Diamond, said his client plans to open the adult cabaret on July 20.

"They are planning on opening whether they get the license or not,'' Diamond said, adding his clients were pleased with the court decision.

"They're ecstatic,'' Diamond said. "They are just appalled at how much money the city politicians have spent - not from their pockets, but from the taxpayers' pockets.''

According to the tentative decision made Monday by Hiroshige, a city ordinance states city business license officials have 60 days in which to grant adult businesses a permit unless the chief of police or building officials give a reason for denial.

In the Advanced case, the city took about five months to issue the denial, Diamond said. At that point, the businessmen where told the facility could not open at the location because it would have been 1,248 feet from a school site.

City regulations prohibit adult entertainment venues within 1,250 feet of places such as schools and churches.

After the businessmen applied for the license, the school was moved from the 200 block of East End Avenue to 1515 E. Third St., putting it about 800 feet from the proposed club, Diamond said.

The courts have already ruled that if a school or church moves into an area near an adult entertainment center, the latter's application must be retained, he said.

Diamond said the location for the cabaret possesses no problems because it's in the midst of an industrial zone.

"It's an ideal area because it's far away from any sensitive use,'' Diamond said.

The fact that the cabaret will open near the school facility shouldn't take the school district by surprise since they were originally named as a defendant in the case to assure they were aware of the situation, he said.

Bill Stelzner, spokesman for the Pomona Unified School District, said the location at 1515 E. Third St. is an alternative education center run by Pomona Alternative School.

Diamond said the school's lease on the property expired Sunday, but Stelzner denied that.

"As far as we know, our intent is to continue using the site through the end of the coming school year,'' he said.

The center is primarily used by students enrolled in independent study programs, he said. Students, such as young parents or those who are holding down jobs, complete academic work at home and then go to the center to meet with faculty members for individual instruction, Stelzner said.

The site serves students in the eastern part of the district, he said. Sites for such facilities are generally selected based on their accessibility and proximity to transportation.

Monica Rodriguez can be reached by e-mail at m_rodriguez@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-9336.



Runner Dropped for Stripping Job Can Rejoin Team
June 30, 2001

By JEFF GOTTLIEB, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times

After her attorney threatened a lawsuit, a Cal State Fullerton student who was kicked off the cross-country and track teams for working as a stripper can rejoin the squad if she meets the usual eligibility requirements.

And that could be a more difficult hurdle than the ones she clears during the steeplechase.

Coach John Elders told Leilani Rios in January 2000 that she had a choice--quit stripping or stop running. Her part-time job at the Flamingo Theater in Anaheim, he told her, violated the university's five-paragraph Athletics Code of Conduct, which says, "Most importantly, [team members] give everyone who sees them a positive image of Titan student-athletes.

Rios, 21, received a letter this week from Robert Palmer, vice president of student services, inviting her back. University system lawyers decided the constitutionally protected activity of stripping would be a tough one to take on in court.

"While we believe our coaches should be the ones interpreting the university's athletes code of conduct, our attorneys have advised us that may not be possible," said CSUF spokeswoman Paula Selleck, "especially when the activity is constitutionally protected, such as exotic dancing."

According to Joseph Tacopina, Rios' attorney, Coach Elders has said that stripping goes against his moral credo as a Christian. Elders could not be reached for response.

"[Cal State Fullerton] tried to deflect the conduct of the coach by citing this code of athletic conduct," Tacopina said.

But the university ultimately could prevail if Rios cannot regain her eligibility.

Rios' husband, Wayne Hurtado, said that at the moment, his wife would be ineligible because of academic problems that he says stemmed from her being kicked off the team.

Rios, who could not be reached for comment, lacks sufficient credits to maintain her eligibility under the standards of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., which governs intercollegiate sports.

"We have to go back with the school and the NCAA and see if we can get that year credited back to her," said Hurtado, 31. "Cal State Fullerton is admitting wrong by kicking her off the team, so the NCAA should have no problem."

NCAA officials could not be reached late Friday.

Rios has about a C average, her attorney said.

But she could have another eligibility problem.

The notoriety over the dispute that has landed her on TV shows and in newspaper and magazine articles, also has attracted the attention of Playboy.

At present she can be observed on Playboy.com sans her running uniform. Two weeks ago, her husband said, the magazine took photos for a feature for which Rios was paid an undisclosed sum.

If Rios' pay from Playboy was related to her participation as an athlete, it could be a violation of NCAA rules, said John Hauscarriague, assistant athletic director for administration at UC Irvine.

Rios did not receive an athletic scholarship to compete at Cal State Fullerton, and she was ranked in the middle of the university's cross-country runners. She finished 60th in the Big West Conference championships in 1999.

Tacopina said word of Rios' stripping job got around campus after four members of the Cal State Fullerton baseball team at the Flamingo Theater noticed her.

Tacopina said his client never used her college affiliation as part of her act. The baseball players, he said, were wearing their hats and one of them was wearing a school practice jersey. The athletes also were drinking and stuffing money into the dancers' bikini bottoms, he said.

No baseball players have been disciplined.

Once the Rios situation went public, baseball coach George Horton asked his players if any had gone to the Flamingo, spokeswoman Selleck said. No one would admit visiting the theater.

The coach explained the behavior code to his team and told them that going to strip clubs was inappropriate, Selleck said.

Rios has no plans to make stripping a career, Tacopina said, but is using it to help finance her college education. Her husband of 15 months is a foreman at a supermarket milk plant.

Hurtado said his wife works a couple of days a week, adding, "She makes as much in a day as some people make in a week."



Court Says Tipsy Topless Dancer Can Sue Club
June 28, 2001

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A topless dancer who got tipsy and had a car accident can sue her club for encouraging her to drink with customers, a Texas appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The court overturned a lower court decision forbidding the lawsuit, which dancer Sarah Salazar filed after a 1998 traffic accident resulted in her being charged with driving while intoxicated.

Salazar contended that she was impaired when she left work because her employer, Giorgio's Mens Club in San Antonio, urged the dancers to drink with customers so they would buy more drinks at inflated prices.

That alleged policy made the club liable for damages, the court ruled.

Forrest Welmaker, Salazar's attorney, said it may be difficult to pursue the lawsuit because Giorgio's has gone out of business.

But, he said, the ruling might make topless clubs take better care of their dancers.

``They need to be responsible and look after their dancers as closely as they look after their patrons,'' Welmaker said.



Even in spotlight, Rios wants to run
June 15, 2001

The Orange County Register

An attorney for Leilani Rios is asking Cal State Fullerton athletic officials to reinstate her to the school's cross country team more than a year after the coach dismissed her because of her part-time job as an exotic dancer at an Anaheim club.

In response, a CSF official has offered to discuss with Rios the possibility that, if finances are the reason she works at the club, she could receive assistance procuring a job on campus.

While the notoriety of her situation has resulted in several appearances on national TV talk and news shows and an upcoming pictorial in Playboy magazine, Rios, 21, who continues to take classes at CSF, is at an impasse.

"All she wants is for the school to let her back on the team and to issue a public apology," said Joseph Tacopina, a New York attorney who specializes in civil rights cases.

He made those requests on Rios' behalf in a May 22 letter to CSF athletic director John Easterbrook, asking that she be reinstated by June 25.

The letter stipulates that John Elders, who coaches the school's track and cross country teams and identifies himself as a Christian, dismissed Rios, a non-scholarship athlete, because her dancing at the Flamingo Theater violated an "Athlete's Code of Conduct."

But, Tacopina's letter goes on, "It is Coach Elders who sets the standards for membership on the team and that his everyday practice of identifying himself as a Christian does not negate this."

Responding for CSF in a letter dated June 1, Robert L. Palmer, vice president for student affairs, offered Rios help landing an on-campus job.

However, he said no determination on her possible reinstatement to the cross country team could be considered until "the university reviews its grading process for the spring 2001 semester."

Wayne Hurtado, Rios' husband, said his wife passed all her courses during the semester.

"There's no question that she is academically eligible," Hurtado said.

He said he and Rios found Palmer's offer to help her find a job at the school "insulting."

Said Hurtado: "Why should she work as a food server or in the school library when she can earn better money doing something that's perfectly legal?"

Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for the NCAA, said the governing body for intercollegiate athletics had no jurisdiction on the Rios matter because Rios is not on scholarship.

"It's entirely a matter between her and the school,"` Jankowski said.

Rios will appear Monday night on HBO's "Real Sports," with Bryant Gumbel.

KFI radio has announced it will hold a rally for Rios on June 23 at the Flamingo Theater from 3-6 p.m.



Chinatown Merchants Unite to Fight Nude Dance Club
May 4, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

To Philip and Sandy Young, proprietors of a Chinatown printing shop, the mere mention of bringing nude dancing to their community is chilling.

"It will destroy our community," Sandy Young said. "You never know what kind of people will come into Chinatown."

Chinatown-watchers cannot remember the last time the community got as worked up or united as it has over a Nevada firm's effort to open what it calls an "upscale" erotic dance club in the 200 block of Alpine Street.

The fact that the firm lost its bid for zoning has done little to calm residents. The would-be developer--a company with ties to two adult clubs in North Hollywood--has gone to federal court to overturn the zoning ruling.

In late March, the Los Angeles City Council, in a closed session, voted 10 to 0 to fight the lawsuit after about 500 people, including prominent Chinese American leaders, packed the council chambers to express their outrage.

Speakers condemned the nude club as a slap at the Chinese American community.

"Would you allow this kind of joint to go next door to Canter's Deli? No! Why? Because it would hurt and possibly destroy the very special spirit of that delightful little neighborhood around Fairfax and Beverly," said the Rev. Kenneth Yee, a pastor at Chinatown's First Chinese Baptist Church, the largest Chinese church in the Western Hemisphere.

"To let this joint into Chinatown would be to permit the attack of an Ebola virus, injected into our very body," Yee said.

Cheuk Choi, principal of Castelar Elementary School, added that "hundreds upon hundreds" of middle and high school students are dropped off every school day at the corner of Alpine and Yale streets, a block and a half from the proposed site.

"If the adult business is established, undesirable criminal elements will surely follow suit," he said. "Who is going to protect the children?"

Opponents have lobbied city officials and gathered more than 7,000 signatures in an effort to kill the project.

City officials denied a building permit to the club's promoter, 211 Alpine Street L.L.C., because an English-language school had been approved in the same block. That, the city said, violated an ordinance prohibiting adult entertainment within 500 feet of any religious institution, school or public park, or within 1,000 feet of another adult entertainment facility.

211 Alpine said the rejection was illegal because it had filed its permit application more than a month before the school did. City officials say the school completed the permit process before the nude club.

"Is it constitutional for a city to deny an adult business a permit, where the only 'sensitive use' that would defeat that permit application was not even in existence at the time the adult business applied for its permit?" said G. Randall Garrou, one of the attorneys representing 211 Alpine. The case is in the early stages with no trial date set.

A principal of 211 Alpine L.L.C., Michael Criddle, is also listed as an officer of Deja Vu Showgirls and Deja Vu Venus Faire, both in North Hollywood.

Hotelier Peter Kwong Jr., whose family owns Best Western Dragon Gate Inn on North Hill Street, said the unified opposition is a departure from tradition.

"Chinatown has not been known to agree on anything--what with the older and the younger generation disagreeing on everything--but this issue has brought everybody together," he said.

At stake, opponents say, is nothing less than Chinatown's way of life.

"Chinese culture is family-oriented," said Philip Young, inside his shop where his two children, Casey, 9, and Holly, 7, played, their doting grandfather beside them.

After school, Casey and Holly, students at Castelar Elementary School a block away, come "home" to the family business. Until it's time for them to go to Confucius School, where they study Mandarin and Cantonese, they play or do homework at the shop.

The overlap of work and play is a rhythm of life familiar to generations of Chinatown immigrants, and one that they cherish.

"Chinatown is a lovely little lotus garden that has been transplanted, slowly and delicately nurtured," said Yee.

Many believe the intrusion of adult entertainment would elicit shame, especially among the elderly and women, causing them to shun the block, hurting hundreds of businesses in the surrounding area.

"Can you imagine, how they would feel, when they walk down the street here, and see a nude dancing club advertised?" asked Choi, a Chinatown resident for 30 years.

The proposed project would not only destroy that special Chinatown ambience, but also "knock down" all the "money, manpower and sweat," the community has expended through a business improvement district, said the Rev. Yee.

As printer Philip Young walked his two children to Confucius School, he pointed to school buses letting out students at the corner of Alpine and Yale.

"We have a lot at stake," Young said. "As a community, we have our moral standard. No matter what the outcome of the lawsuit, we are going to be on their doorstep if they're going to try to come in."



Are Strip Clubs Dancing Around the Law?
April 23, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

When Alicia Cadena strolls onto the stage of a club near LAX, wearing her thigh-high vinyl go-go boots and neon-green hot pants, she expects to make bank. Any self-respecting exotic dancer would after a five-minute shimmy, swivel and strip routine that leaves no questions about her ample anatomy.

For young women like Cadena, who make their money peeling away their G-strings and teasing off their tops, stripping is a job--a job as real as waitressing and one with some parallel compensation issues.

Strippers--like waitresses--are considered employees under federal law, meaning they're owed an hourly wage and expected to pay taxes on their earnings from tips. Most exotic dancers don't get to keep much of the tip money that club patrons give them, though. That despite a new California law that took effect Jan. 1, which says dancers are entitled to keep 100% of cash tips from customers.

Many clubs continue to take as much as half of dancers' gratuities and do not pay them an hourly wage. That has made exotic dance clubs a hotbed for labor disputes in recent years.

It's a high-stakes game for everyone involved. The adult entertainment industry is a multibillion-dollar-a-year business involving about 3,000 exotic dance clubs and tens of thousands of dancers nationally. Several thousands of those dancers are in California.

Nationwide, the courts have ruled in dozens of lawsuits and continue to handle cases filed by dancers claiming unfair employment practices. In California, the state Labor Commission has handled about 100 complaints from dancers in the last few years.

"I have witnessed other girls not even making $40 for one night's shift," said Cadena, 32, who has been dancing seven years. "That's not even minimum wage."

Cadena usually ends her work shift with $400 or more in cash--bills she's collected from the stage floor at the end of her strip routines and retrieved from her string bikini during private dances. Many dancers are not as financially successful. After paying stage fees and tipping club staff, they may leave with next to nothing.

"This is an industry that is going to have to be brought into compliance kicking and dragging," said Miles Locker, chief counsel for the state Labor Commission, the agency charged with enforcing AB 2509, the new law.

The new law amends Section 350 of the Labor Code, inserting new language regarding dancers' tips. The amendment reads: "Any amounts paid directly by a patron to a dancer . . . shall be deemed a gratuity."

Supporting the change were dancers' lobbying groups and state agencies that wanted to make clubs accountable for the mostly cash income the clubs were taking in, according to Locker. "[These clubs] are used to making lots of money off the dancers, and they don't want that situation to change."

In fact, two dance clubs in San Diego contend the new law is unconstitutional and filed suit against the Labor Commission in February. The suit claims that the law treats the exotic dance club industry differently than other industries and that it interferes with the contracts clubs have with their dancers.

"[AB 2509] is just a way of trying to steal money from the club," said George Mull, counsel for CB & DM Entertainment Inc. and Jolar Cinema in San Diego, the two clubs that filed the suit.

Most clubs set fees for the services their dancers provide--such as a lap dance in which the dancer straddles the customer and moves provocatively for the length of one song. The customer pays the dancer, and most clubs then take a 50% cut--their fair share, they say, for providing the venue.

"It's ridiculous to look at this as a tip," said Mull. "Most men that have gone to a club, if they asked a girl to come over and do . . . table dances and at the end said, 'Here's $7,' she'd say, 'No. The stated price is $20.' It's not a tip. You can't just change the name of something and have it be different than what it is."

Whether that money is a tip or a fee is at the heart of the issue in California. A larger issue nationally is whether the dancers should be classified as employees.

The majority of dance clubs, in California and nationwide, consider their dancers to be independent contractors or tenants, not employees. As such, they do not pay their dancers by the hour or provide other employee benefits, such as workers' compensation or disability. Many clubs even charge them to perform.

A lawsuit filed by dancers says that Deja Vu, a national chain of exotic clubs based in Lansing, Mich., charges a stage fee of $50 to $100 just to come to work, fines them for being late, chewing gum on stage or failing to smile during performances. In addition, the suit says the clubs require dancers to tip a minimum of $10 to each waitress, bartender, deejay and parking attendant, to purchase a $10 "ladies drink" during each shift, and takes a 40% cut of the money dancers earn from lap dances.

"As soon as you walked in, you were in the negative," said Cadena, who worked for Deja Vu in North Hollywood in 1998 but now works at the Century Lounge near LAX, one of a small number of area clubs that pay an hourly wage and grant other employee benefits.

In December 1998, Cadena and a handful of other dancers filed eight separate class-action lawsuits against various clubs where they are not treated as employees--including Deja Vu, Bob's Classy Lady and Industrial Strip, all clubs where Cadena had worked in North Hollywood in the '90s. Eleven other lawsuits involving 30 clubs and potentially thousands of women are pending on the same issue in California courts. But even if the dancers win, there's no guarantee anything will change.

"They always rule in favor of the dancers. The laws are on the book," said Johanna Breyer, co-founder of the Exotic Dancers Alliance, an educational outreach group in San Francisco. "While the courts are saying go ahead and pay these people and you can't do X, Y and Z, they're still not complying with the laws and nobody's telling them to do anything about it unless a dancer complains."

A former exotic dancer, Breyer filed a complaint with the state Labor Commission against the Bijou Group and Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco in 1993. She was also part of a class-action lawsuit against the same theaters in 1994. In 1998, the plaintiffs won a $2.85-million settlement for back wages and stage fees.

While that money was paid and the clubs' employment practices changed as a result of the suit, some clubs that have lost in court defy the court's orders, leaving it up to the dancers to seek compliance. "It's an enforcement issue," said Breyer.

But there's only so much the Labor Commission can do.

"We're an agency that has limited resources, and there are an awful lot of different types of employees who are in other industries that are the victims of unlawful employment practices. We can't take our field staff, who are trying to improve conditions in the garment industry or among agricultural workers, and abandon those areas to focus on another industry," Locker said. "We're doing the most we can."

In the absence of effective enforcement, the policing is left up to the dancers, who are often afraid to complain because they fear they will be blacklisted. "Unionization is one of the best ways to ensure compliance because that way the workers are keeping the owners in check," said Breyer.

Still, she admits it's a difficult task. Of the tens of thousands throughout the country, only one club is unionized--dancers at the Lusty Lady in San Francisco joined the Service Employees International Union in 1996.

"I think it goes back to the fear and intimidation tactics of the management," said Breyer, who is no longer a dancer but continues to work on behalf of dancers as director of social services at a health clinic for sex workers.

Cadena hasn't let that stop her. She continues to dance at a handful of venues she describes as more dancer-friendly.

"The clubs have done wrong by not paying us minimum wage," said Cadena, who became an exotic dancer to help finance her college education and is one semester short of earning her commercial music degree. "We deserve it."



Permit for Arcadia Nude-Dance Club Revoked
April 10, 2001

Pasadena Star-News

ARCADIA -- Citing lap dances and other violations, the city has revoked the business permit of Golden Eyes Gentlemen's Club, a decision that came a few days after the nude bar had already closed its doors.

The action brings at least a temporary end to the controversial establishment, which opened in January 2000 at 1580 Clark St., in an industrial section on the south end of town.

Arcadia Police Department officers and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies made undercover visits to the dance club several times last year to check whether the owners were complying with the terms of the adult business regulatory permit that the city issued Golden Eyes in late 1999.

Instead, authorities found numerous violations, according to the ruling by city hearing officer Stephen Haberfeld, a retired judge.

"The adult business regulatory permit of Golden Eyes Gentlemen's Club should be revoked," Haberfeld said in his recommendation, issued on March 21.

In response, a three-member city panel -- the Business License Permit and Review Board -- concurred with Haberfeld's recommendation, revoking the permit last Wednesday.

That decision is final; under the Arcadia Municipal Code, businesses have no option to appeal, said City Attorney Stephen Deitsch.

Plainclothes officers went to Golden Eyes numerous times in 2000, documenting what they observed and experienced on March 4, March 17, April 6, June 2 and Aug. 4.

Their accounts described graphic sexual contact between the naked performers and the customers, including the undercover officers. The women left the stage and went table to table, offering patrons topless dances for $20 and nude dances for $40, police reported.

During the investigation, officers saw repeated instances of dancers fondling the customers and/or themselves during lap dances -- thus violating city rules that performers remain on the stage, keep at least six feet away from the clientele and have no physical contact with the public.

"I think the city is not well served in hassling the club, because it's located in the industrial section of the city, far from so-called sensitive uses like schools and churches," said attorney Roger Diamond, who represented two of the club owners, Frank Bagheritarie and Amer Haddadin.

"You're talking about a remote place, far away from anything. This was low-key, low-profile, out of the way -- so who could possibly object to it?" Diamond said.

"After all, Arcadia allows horse racing and gambling. Gambling hurts more families than nude dancing," he said. "What they're doing here, in my opinion, is a violation of the First Amendment."

Golden Eyes recently came under new ownership, hiring attorney John Weston, a First Amendment specialist, to represent them.

According to police accounts, a performer named Eve told an undercover officer that "five dollars of each lap dance goes to the club owner." Club disc jockeys continuously announced two-for-one and three-for-one lap dance specials.

A manager walked around the club, "aware of lap dances," the police report said. "Every time a lap dance was given, the lap dancer would contact a bouncer, who would note it on a clipboard."

Particularly notable was one Aug. 4 entry: "DJ announces welcome to Arcadia Police and L.A. Sheriff's Department officers, who were inside location. Customers continued to receive lap dances; observed about nine."

-- Mary Schubert can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4456, or by e-mail at mary.schubert@sgvn.com.



A Student-Athlete Can't Outrun Her Other Job
March 27, 2001

The Orange County Register

Fullerton Leilani Rios believes that her love of running helped her escape from a neighborhood where many girls end up as pregnant dropouts. She ran her way onto the high school track team, and then to college, eventually working her way onto the track team at California State University, Fullerton.

But the 21- year-old's athletic career ended abruptly last year when her coach kicked her off the team because of her other career - working as a stripper at an all-nude club in Anaheim to pay her way through college.

"He believes what I do is morally wrong," Rios said. "He didn't want me representing his team."

Since the campus newspaper, the Daily Titan, and ESPN publicized her story this month, Rios has become something of a campus celebrity.

"People are talking about it and we're doing some reaction stories," said Daily Titan Managing Editor Vu Nguyen.

"Especially since it's Women's History Month."

Fullerton's head track coach, John Elders, said Rios' job violates the university's code of conduct, which specifies that Titan athletes should behave respectably, not cause disturbances or use foul language, and "give everyone who sees them a positive image of Titan student- athletes."

And at nude clubs like the Anaheim's Flamingo Club, dancers leave nothing to the imagination. Typically, their income is derived from tips from appreciative customers.

"Working as a stripper wasn't the best way to represent the university, the track team or me," Elders said.

But Rios believes she's the victim of a double standard: She said Elders only found out about her other career after some Titan baseball players - wearing CSUF hats and jerseys - came into the Flamingo while she was stripping. The university's code of conduct specifies that athletes, "when wearing something that associates themselves with their teams ... act in a responsible and dignified manner."

Once the gossip got around, Rios said, the baseball players weren't chastised for being in a strip club, but she was.

Rios said Elders called her into his office in January 2000 and gave her an ultimatum: Give up stripping or you're off the team.

"At first, I asked him if there were any NCAA rules or Cal State Fullerton rules that would kick me off, and he said, 'No, it's my rules. I want to kick you off my team,'" Rios said. "But then, for the ESPN interview, he brought out this code of conduct that he never mentioned to me."

Rios, who is married, said she never represented herself as a Titan athlete while working as an exotic dancer, and didn't tell people about her job because they tended to judge her negatively.

Elders said he received permission from the school's athletic director before deciding to remove Rios from the team. Director of Athletics John Easterbrook said in a written statement, "Students competing in intercollegiate athletics are held to a higher standard than non-athletes. For the privilege of being on a team, student-athletes relinquish rights that other students retain."

He did not return phone calls or e-mails.

The executive director of the New York-based Women's Sports Foundation, which promotes gender equity in sports, agreed that coaches generally have had broad authority to dismiss anyone from their teams for anything except race, gender, religion or ethnicity.

However, Executive Director Donna Lopiano issued a written statement arguing that Rios "should not have been kicked off the team because she was in no way associating herself with the team when she was at the club," and that the Titan ballplayers in the club should have received equal treatment.

"Her behavior is perfectly legal and so is theirs," Lopiano said. "But if the college considers stripping at a club to be a serious offense, so it should be equally serious to engage in the behavior of going to a strip club ... it shouldn't just be women that are punished for behavior that obviously takes two to tango."

Rios, meanwhile, is still at the Flamingo three nights a week. She declined to say how much she earns, but a popular stripper can earn $200 or more on a good night - and the hours are flexible.

A kinesiology major, Rios grew up in a tough neighborhood in San Bernardino, the daughter of a truck driver and a homemaker, and said she's the first person in her family to go to college. She hopes to become a physical therapist after graduation.

Meanwhile, she is playing intramural soccer for fun and said she still likes her coach, even after he fired her.

She has stopped running, saying it's no fun now that she's not on the team.

"If I could go back on the team, I would like to, but I think it would be difficult with the coach," Rios said.

Register staff writer Fermin Leal Jr. contributed to this report.



Investigators Let Admitted Hit Man Keep $3,000 Fee
March 6, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

Orange County district attorney investigators watched the admitted killer of a strip-club owner collect $3,000 for the hit last year, then let him keep the money while he was working for them undercover, an investigator testified Monday.

Lawyers for a suspect in the case were highly critical of the authorities' actions, saying they should have seized the cash, not let a suspected killer profit from murder.

"It's ludicrous," said Richard Hirsch, whose client, Michael Woods, is accused of ordering the 1989 machine-gun slaying of Horace "Big Mac" McKenna. Morton's testimony came during a preliminary hearing at which Superior Court Judge Clay M. Smith ruled there is enough evidence for the case against Woods to proceed to trial.

The accused hit man, John Patrick Sheridan, allegedly confessed last year to killing McKenna but was released for nine months to work undercover for authorities before they arrested him. Investigators credit Sheridan's work for the arrests last year of Woods and a third suspect, David Amos. Even if Sheridan is later convicted, he will not have to return the money, which he has spent, according to the testimony Monday.

During the investigation, authorities said, they watched Amos make the cash payment to Sheridan--a decade after the murder. They photocopied the money and gave it back to Sheridan, district attorney investigator Rick Morton said.

Morton said he does not know how Sheridan spent the money, and authorities have no plans to collect it, even if Sheridan is convicted.

It is common for law enforcement agencies to pay their informants but rare for them to let an admitted killer pocket money for a hit, legal experts said.

"Unbelievable," said Capistrano Beach lawyer Dean Steward, who has worked dozens of cases with police informants. "That's far worse than a straight payment. That smacks of participation in the crime itself."

Morton defended authorities' actions in the case. He said Sheridan was going to spend several days with Amos after the payment and his cover would have been blown if he did not have the money.

"It's a very unorthodox thing we did," Morton said. "But we did it and the bottom line is we got the people responsible for it. So I can live with all the flak from the defense attorneys."

The arrests in October of Woods, Amos and Sheridan capped one of Orange County's most baffling murder mysteries. McKenna, a former California Highway Patrol officer, was shot repeatedly as he arrived at his gated Brea ranch in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Woods is accused of ordering McKenna's killing so he could take over a string of Los Angeles County strip bars the pair operated. Woods allegedly paid $50,000 to Amos, who in turn is accused of giving $25,000 to Sheridan to carry out the killing. The $3,000 paid last year was part of a bonus Amos had long promised Sheridan, investigators said.

Defense lawyers in the case have spent months criticizing authorities' involvement with Sheridan, an ex-convict who allegedly said he killed McKenna as a favor to Amos.

But Morton said that without Sheridan's cooperation, the killing might still be unsolved. Sheridan allegedly recorded Amos discussing the killing. Amos, confronted with that evidence, confessed and implicated Woods, Morton said.

"There was a very big risk. It wasn't something that was taken lightly," Morton said. "But it worked just as we hoped."

Amos and Sheridan, offered reduced sentences in exchange for testifying against Woods, are awaiting preliminary hearings.



Club Seeks to Loosen Beverly Hills' Bikini Strings
February 23, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

BEVERLY HILLS--The owners of the city's only exotic dance club have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking financial damages from the city, along with relief from its restrictions on adult entertainment businesses, which they allege are discriminatory.

"Regulations [regarding exotic dance clubs] in Beverly Hills are restrictive to the point of being prohibitive and that's unconstitutional," said Roger Jon Diamond, attorney for the Nevada-based company Deja Vu, which operates 55 adult entertainment businesses across the country, including the Beverly Club on Beverly Drive.

Diamond, who has represented numerous adult entertainment business owners throughout the region in similar disputes, filed the suit Feb. 16.

It comes on the heels of a successful legal fight he brought on behalf of Deja Vu against Beverly Hills in January, when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the city to reduce the fee for an exotic dancer's license from $1,100 to $100.

That issue arose after the Beverly Hills Police Department raided the Beverly Club in November, giving tickets to six exotic dancers who didn't have a city permit. Each of the dancers pleaded guilty to an infraction and paid a fine.

Assistant City Atty. Terence Boga said the new lawsuit is "smoke and mirrors," referring to a similar suit that Deja Vu filed in federal court against the city in 1998. The suit was thrown out after Deja Vu neglected to pursue the case.

"The city does not have a problem with Deja Vu where [it is] now," Boga said, pointing out that the Beverly Club is within the city's primary business triangle.

In 1998, the Beverly Hills City Council passed an ordinance that requires exotic dancers to wear bikinis and prohibits them from being within six feet of patrons.

The law was modeled after one passed in Newport Beach in the mid-1990s that has withstood several legal challenges.

Numerous other cities in the area and across the country also have passed laws limiting physical contact or requiring dancers to be partially clothed. Some of the corresponding legal challenges have been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1998, Beverly Hills city officials required the Beverly Club, which once featured topless dancing, to have dancers wear bikini tops and outlawed lap dancing, a private tete-a-tete in which a dancer sits in the lap of a patron, who pays extra for the one-on-one performance.

"The law is not the case that any city has to make an adult business profitable," Boga said, adding that the exotic dancer license fee was lowered simply to bring it in line with other permit fees.

Adult entertainment businesses, protected under the shield of the 1st Amendment, cannot be completely legislated out of existence by municipalities.

While many cities have successfully found legal ways to inhibit their operations by limiting hours, prohibiting alcohol or tightening zoning laws, cities must allow the businesses.

The Beverly Club is not a member of the local chamber of commerce.

"We do feel that not every business is appropriate for the city of Beverly Hills," said Lee Silver, president of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Deja Vu owner Don Kruntz referred all questions to his attorneys, who said Beverly Hills' laws are intended to put the Beverly Club out of business.

Deja Vu is seeking yet-to-be-determined damages from the city, said Brad Shafer, the company's co-counsel.

"The requirement that dancers must wear a bikini are draconian," he said. The regulations "are an across-the-board attack on this type of business. It is impossible for my client to run a profitable business in its present configuration, under these laws."

The city now allows the club to be open from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Shafer said since the dancers wear bikinis, the Beverly Club no longer should be legally considered an adult entertainment business and therefore should be allowed to operate during the day.

"They [city officials] know they cannot totally ban [adultentertainment] businesses," Diamond said. "So they should just let this one be, because no one can tell it's there," he said, referring to the club's location below ground, with only a small sign at street level.

Diamond also said it is "bizarre" that the city is passing laws restricting adult entertainment businesses since Playboy and Flynt Publications, both publishers of adult entertainment material with a worldwide reach, have corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills and are prominent in the local community.

Councilman Les Bronte said he appreciates the irony, but that it doesn't change how he thinks of exotic dance clubs.

"There's no market for this kind of business in Beverly Hills," he said. "It's a wonder [it] can continue to stay in business. It's not well-intended--[the Beverly Club] does not satisfy those who are looking for legitimate entertainment."



Gunman Robs Strip Club Near Upland
February 21, 2001

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies are searching for a man who robbed the manager of a strip club Tuesday.

The man walked into the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club, 571 N. Central Ave., in an unincorporated area near Upland, and pointed a gun at the manager's head, Sheriff's Det. Cliff Nash said.

No one else was in the club except for another employee who was in a back room and didn't hear anything, Nash said

The manager laid down on the ground while the robber grabbed cash from the cash register and ran, Nash said.

The club was open for a long weekend, and employees might not have had a chance to drop off the profits at the bank, Nash said.

"That's something restaurants and liquor stores have to watch out for," Nash said. "After a big weekend, if they haven't made the bank run, they're vulnerable."

Deputies said the robber was African American, about 6 feet tall with a medium build and a goatee, and was wearing a gray parka and jeans.

Montclair police are investigating the possibility that the same suspect robbed an adult bookstore at 10543 Mills Ave. in Montclair on Monday.

At 9:45 p.m. a man entered the Apple Book Store and selected a video. He walked to the counter and asked the cashier, "Do you see my gun?"

He grabbed money from the cash register and ran.

Anyone with information about the Upland robbery can call the Chino Hills Sheriff's substation at 364-2000.

Anyone with information about the Montclair robbery can call the Montclair Police Department at 621-5873.



Exotic Dancer, Boss Held in Fatal Beating of Man
February 9, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

An exotic dancer and her employer were arrested Thursday in the bludgeoning death of a San Clemente man at his apartment last month, authorities said.

Elizabeth Nava, 26, of Irvine and Daniel Parra, 33, of Cerritos were arrested about 8 a.m. at a mobile home park in Cottonwood, a small community in Northern California's Shasta County, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

"We received some information that they may be fleeing to that area," Amormino said. "We gave a description of their vehicle--a charcoal-colored Hyundai--to the Shasta County Sheriff's Department, they observed it parked at the location, and our investigators surrounded the place and took them into custody without incident."

Both have been charged with murder in the death of Charles Ray George, 54, Amormino said. George, an engineer at the San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente, died Jan. 30, a day after being found unconscious in his apartment on El Camino Real.

Neighbors reported seeing a woman leaving the apartment after a loud confrontation at 9 p.m. About 20 minutes later, witnesses said, a man carrying a black flashlight was seen climbing the stairs. After smashing George's windows several times, leaving baseball-size holes in the glass, the man entered the apartment and apparently struck George several times, police said.

Though investigators were not certain what motivated the attack, they said at the time that the woman apparently was an adult entertainer hired by George and that the man was working with her. Amormino confirmed Thursday that Parra is the owner of LOL Entertainment, a Bellflower-based service that provides exotic dancers, and that Nava works for the company.

Both were being held at Shasta County Jail with bail set at $500,000 each. Amormino said the pair will be returned to Orange County within a few days for arraignment.



High Court Refuses to Hear Adult Club Case
January 9, 2001

The Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the city of Simi Valley's appeal of a lower court ruling on the city's seven-year fight to regulate the location of an adult business.

The high court's order Monday lets stand the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said Simi Valley violated the 1st Amendment rights of a backer of an adult club by unreasonably denying him a zoning permit.

After granting Philip Young permission to build a strip club in 1993, the city revoked the permit based on a new ordinance regulating the location of adult businesses. The new law prohibited the location of adult clubs within 1,000 feet of any school, religious organization or park and within 500 feet of residential areas.

Before Young could open his club, a Bible study group moved next door. A nearby karate studio also disqualified Young from opening, city officials said.

Young's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, said the U.S. Supreme Court's denial to hear the case gives the "stamp of approval" to the appellate decision and proves the city ordinance is unconstitutional. His client looks forward to moving ahead with the project, Diamond said. "We're very relieved. It's been a long battle."

Simi Valley attorneys said they were disappointed by the court's decision. "We believed that our ordinance was valid and constitutional," City Atty. David Hirsch said.

City officials will meet with the private attorney assigned to the case, Hirsch said, so they can determine the city's options for regulating adult businesses. It has since passed a new ordinance setting aside part of the city's west end for strip clubs and adult bookstores.

The high court's decision may also affect the city of Los Angeles, which filed a friend of the court brief with Simi Valley. Simi Valley's case was remanded to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for further proceedings, Diamond said.


Ties Between Cops, Alleged Killer Probed
December 28, 2000

By STUART PFEIFER, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Times

Orange County and L.A. investigators are looking at various law enforcement officers' connection to a suspect in the '89 slaying of a strip-club owner in Brea.

Investigators from the Orange County district attorney's office are working with prosecutors in Los Angeles to probe links between a suspect in the 1989 slaying of a nude-dance-club owner and officers from several law enforcement agencies.

Orange County officials gathered the information during a yearlong undercover operation at several strip clubs in Los Angeles that led to the arrest last month of three men on suspicion of killing club owner Horace "Big Mac" McKenna outside his Brea estate.

"We have notified various police departments about the connection between some of their officers and employees of the strip clubs," said Tori Richards, a spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. "We will be sitting down with Los Angeles D.A. investigators to give them more complete information that they may use to pursue any additional investigation."

Richards declined to say which agencies are involved, but sources familiar with the case said investigators are looking at links between members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lennox station and murder suspect Michael Woods.

After McKenna's slaying a decade ago, Woods took over management of two strip clubs near the station, including one in Lennox.

According to court records, Woods donated more than $15,000 to police departments and police charities in the 1990s--while he was a suspect in the slaying of McKenna.

Woods' attorney highlighted these contributions in a court motion last month requesting that his client be released on bail. According to the motion, Woods donated $2,250 to the Los Angeles sheriff's youth foundation, $1,000 to the Lennox station and $1,000 to the sheriff's relief foundation.

In addition, Woods made donations to charities that benefited the Los Angeles Police Department and gave $2,400 to the California Highway Patrol's foundation for families of officers slain in the line of duty.

CHP Sgt. Rhett Price, however, rejected the idea that Woods in any way profited from his donations. Price said that the foundation is a private entity not operated by the highway patrol and that Woods' contribution "does not in any way suggest they are garnering any special favors."

Although they don't know whether any crimes were committed, sources said, investigators want to know whether Woods received favorable treatment at his clubs in exchange for the donations.

Prosecutors charge that Woods and another strip-club manager, David Amos, hired a hit man to kill McKenna in 1989 as part of Woods' campaign to gain control of the New Jet Strip in Hawthorne, Bare Elegance in Lennox and Valley Ball in the San Fernando Valley. Woods and McKenna worked as CHP partners in the 1970s and later went into the nude-club business.

The case went cold for 11 years, until the alleged hit man agreed to cooperate with authorities in January. The man then spent the next 10 months gathering evidence against Woods and Amos, including wearing a hidden recording wire.

Woods, Amos and alleged hit man John Sheridan have pleaded not guilty. Woods' attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Word of the new probe comes in the midst of a Los Angeles police investigation of a detective related to Amos. In a secretly recorded conversation, Amos said that a relative who works as an LAPD detective provided him with information about the McKenna investigation. The detective is on active duty as the internal-affairs probe continues, an LAPD spokesman said.


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