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Deputies arrest 30 dancers at adult clubs

Officials say lewd acts at the clubs were so prevalent that the sweep became the largest in county history. The clubs say the arrests were political.

By RYAN DAVIS and SAUNDRA AMRHEIN
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 12, 2002


Thirty exotic dancers were arrested Thursday in the largest ever one-night adult club bust in Pasco County, sheriff's deputies said.

A bartender and a manager were also arrested in the undercover sweep of five west Pasco County adult clubs -- Lollipops, Calendar Girls, Club 54, Sin-na-bar and Players Club.

photo
[Times photo: Joseph Garnett Jr.]
The Players Club sign refers to Rick West, an opponent of the clubs. The other side said "Let the fight begin."
Most of the dancers face misdemeanor charges of lewdness, a state statute violation. Sheriff's Lt. Robert Sullivan said the busts were unrelated to any county ordinances and said he did not plan with county officials.

Instead, Sullivan said, the raids were in response to residents' complaints and undercover surveillance.

"We were told the strip bars were out of control as far as lewd activity," Sullivan said.

The sweep didn't appear to faze club management, he said.

"I don't think the owners could care less," Sullivan said. "The owners were laughing and telling the girls, 'Don't worry, we'll bail you out.' "

Jim Dato, owner of Calendar Girls, called the arrests "totally political."

He said that a proposal for a new county ordinance on adult businesses discussed this week by the County Commission prompted the raids in order to gather ammunition against the clubs.

"The county is trying to create the atmosphere that they have a problem in the county," Dato said.

The proposed ordinance would allow the current 22 adult businesses to stay where they are, mostly along U.S. 19. It would also identify 58 new sites where adult businesses could move in commercial districts, with certain distances from homes, schools and churches.

The proposal follows a decision by a federal judge in Tampa last year suspending the county's last ordinances that would have forced all adult businesses into industrial parks. The County Commission has decided to scrap old ordinances and start over.

The clubs' attorney, Luke Lirot, said the recent proposal sounds reasonable because it won't force his clients to move. It still must pass through two public hearings before a final vote by the commission later this year.

With no county ordinances in place, Lt. Sullivan said that many of the women were under the mistaken impression that no laws were on the books regarding exotic dance clubs.

He said it was the vice unit's first adult club busts since four in 2000. He said the unit also is responsible for drug busts so it must balance time.

Two years ago, Sullivan said, it would typically take an undercover deputy two hours to develop a rapport with a dancer and make a criminal case against her. He said he was inside one of the clubs for 15 minutes Thursday night and saw six illegal acts.

Sullivan and Detective Timothy Hennigan said they would not have arrested anyone for nude dancing on stage or giving lap dances with minimal shoulder or arm contact. But the arrest reports indicate some of the dancers were simulating sex acts on customers and each other. Others were exposing themselves for undercover deputies to put money in their G-strings, the reports state.

Sullivan said deputies staked out the clubs from 8 to 10 p.m. and raided them at 10:30 p.m. Hennigan said more than 90 percent of the working dancers were arrested.

The following people were arrested (unless otherwise noted, the charge was lewdness):

At Lollipops, 18329 U.S. 19 in Hudson: Christine Marie Farino, 18, of Spring Hill; Erica Ann Post, 24, of Hudson; Tracey Evan Gosselin, 22, of Brooksville; Heather Lynn Johannesen, 18, of Hudson; Glynis K. Youngling, 23, of Weeki Wachee; Wendy Lynn Robinson, 30, of Aripeka (only faces charge of exposure of sexual organs).

At Players Club, at 18722 U.S. 19 in Hudson: Jeanne Walicki, 32, of New Port Richey; Ayse D. Goker, 20, of Spring Hill; Sheila Chareese Thomas, 32, of Crystal River; Licia Ilene Holt, 23, of Homosassa; Dawn L. Acker, 24, of Scranton, Pa. (also faces a charge of exposure of sexual organs); April Lynn Daniels, 22, Spring Hill; and Marsha Ann Nantz, 29, of Hudson (a bartender who faces only a charge of solicitation of alcohol beverage).

At Club 54, 8935 State Road 54 in New Port Richey: Lynn Marie Davis-Bell, 33, of New Port Richey (also faces charges of possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substance); Jamie Jennifer Chechile, 26, of New Port Richey, Tiffanie Diane Brown, 23, of New Port Richey; and Jennifer Evon Connolly, 28, of Port Richey.

At Sin-na-bar, 4233 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey: Edward James Hogan Jr., 28, of Port Richey (only faces charge of manager on premise allowing lewdness); Angel Marie Sharp, 25, of Hudson; Kerri Anne Connerty, 28, of Port Richey; Celeste Sigismondi, 23, of Port Richey (also faces a charge of solicitation for sale of alcoholic beverage); Michelle Rose Baker, 19, of New Port Richey; Teri Michelle Barnes, 25, of New Port Richey (also faces charges of solicitation for sale of alcoholic beverage and possession of marijuana); Erica Nicole Peters, 18, of Holiday (also faces charge of possession of cocaine); Andrea Janice Trauterman, 35, of New Port Richey; and Kendall Camille Gross, 21, of Hudson.

At Calendar Girls, 16301 U.S. 19 in Hudson: Jeannie Marie Faulk, 28 of New Port Richey; Chastity Lynn Pals, 20, of Spring Hill; Theodora Marina Lozensky, 28, of Spring Hill; and Karen Dove Ribble, 24, of Brooksville.

-- Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavis@sptimes.com.

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