Plea Considered in Strip Club Trial

A T L A N T A, Aug. 1, 2001 -- Testimony was abruptly halted today in thetrial of a strip club owner accused of using sex to bring incelebrity athletes, as defense attorneys considered deals offeredby prosecutors.

Five of the seven defendants were offered deals, according tocourthouse sources who would not give details of the offers. Thesources spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Lawyers from both sides were meeting at the federal courthouse,but would not comment.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's online site reported thatSteve Kaplan, the owner of the strip club, was offered three yearsin prison and a $5 million fine. The report said he also would giveup ownership of the club, which is the most profitable strip clubin the nation. The report was attributed to sources familiar withthe plea negotiations.

Kaplan faces 195 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Prosecutors said Kaplan used the lure of sex to attractprofessional athletes and celebrities while cheating customers tofunnel cash to New York's Gambino crime family. He and six othersare charged with obstruction, credit card fraud, loan sharking,prostitution and other charges.

The trial is in its 14th week and was expected to last into thefall.

Four other defendants who worked at the club — Larry Gleit,Jacklyn Bush, Norbert Calder and Roy Cicola — would receiveprobation if they agreed to the offer, the Journal-Constitutionreported. They faced from 70 to 95 years in prison if convicted onall charges.

The trial would proceed for two other defendants, former Atlantapolice officer Reginald Burney and Michael DiLeonardo, an allegedcaptain of the Gambino crime family.

If accepted by the defendants, the plea deals would have to beapproved by U.S. District Judge Willis Hunt.