July 23, 2001 -- Basketball star Patrick Ewing took the stand in the Gold Club racketeering trial today, saying that he received sexual favors at the Atlanta strip club while one of the owners stood by.
Club owner Steve Kaplan and six associates face federal obstruction, credit card fraud and loansharking charges, and prosecutors allege that Kaplan provided prostitutes for athletes and celebrities. The owner is also accused of buying protection from the mob.
Neither Ewing nor the other club patrons expected to testify have been charged with a crime.
Wearing a dark blue pinstripe suit in Atlanta's federal courthouse, Ewing testified for less than a half hour, saying he'd been to the Gold Club 10 to 12 times. He said he had received oral sex there twice — once in 1996 and again in either 1997 or 1998 — in the club's VIP room after club performers had danced for him.
"The girls danced, then they started fondling me," Ewing said. "I got aroused, they performed oral sex, then they hung around a little and then left."
He said several other people were in the room at the time, including Kaplan.
Other Knicks Also at the Gold Club, Ewing Says
Ewing, a long-time star player with the New York Knicks who last week signed with the Orlando Magic after one season with the Seattle SuperSonics, said his former teammates Larry Johnson, John Starks, and Charles Oakley were also in club, though not in the private room with him.
On the second occasion, Ewing said, a club owner told him, "If I wanted the girls to come back to the hotel, they'd take care of it." Ewing said he declined.
Ewing testified that both times he asked about payment, and was told it was "taken care of."
Ewing said he had paid $20 for the dance and left a tip, but wasn't asked to pay for the use of the private room, which normally costs several hundred dollars.
Under questioning from Kaplan's attorney Steve Sadow, Ewing said he always went to the club for entertainment, not sex.
"You went because you had a good time and were treated well?" Sadow asked.
"Yes," Ewing responded.