Former Vegas Strip Club Mogul Mike Galardi Gets off the Hook

Mike Galardi, former owner of Cheetahs in both Las Vegas and San Diego, did time in a federal prison (2007-8) for bribing city officials in both towns.  But now he has finally caught a break.

One of the San Diego officials, Mike Zucchet, had filed a lawsuit against Galardi in 2012, alleging that Galardi had lied about him taking a bribe.  Now, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, an appeals court has dismissed the lawsuit.  Galardi is off the hook.

If you followed the “Operation G-Sting” (also known as “strippergate”) news from 2005-7, you’ll remember that Galardi admitted he’d given an estimated $200k to $400k to various city officials through the years to persuade them to change various city laws and regulations.  Specifically, he wanted the city regulations to allow touching between strip club dancers and their customers.

Although a number of city officials were found guilty of accepting his money, Zucchet was found not guilty, based on insufficient evidence. Most of the others were convicted on not only Mike Galardi’s testimony but on wiretap evidence.

From my perspective, Mike Galardi was spending his own money to try to get laws passed that not only would have benefitted the strip club industry, but would have eliminated most of the harassment of dancers by undercover cops, who spend way too much time and way too many public dollars lurking around strip clubs looking for dancers who might be acting as if they own their own bodies.

And if Galardi had been a much wealthier man—a Koch or an Adelson—he could have spent millions, hundreds of millions, buying U.S. senators and congressmen legally through disguised “donations” and foundations and nonprofit “public interest” groups and nobody would have called it a crime.

It’s ironic that before Galardi was even sentenced (in March 2007), the Nevada Supreme Court ruled (in November 2006) that touching between strip club dancers and customers was protected communication under the First Amendment. (See Strip Club Law.)  Sadly, Galardi spent all that money for nothing. The laws he wanted passed no longer need to be passed. And regardless, cops are still harassing dancers.

Remember, it was Cheetahs in San Diego (Mike’s club during Operation G-Sting) where the cops recently held dancers hostage in their dressing room for more than an hour while they took photos of them “to catalog their tattoos.” (See “San Diego Revokes License of Strip Club that Sued Cops”)
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