US federal agents raid strip club empire in Washington state

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yesterday, federal agents, assisted by local police, raided the businesses, homes, and offices of Frank Colacurcio Sr., and his son, Frank Junior in Washington, in the United States Pacific Northwest. Approximately 50 years after federal authorities first labeled Colacurcio Sr. as an organized crime figure, they allege the 90-year-old strip club magnate and convicted racketeer is still active in violating the law. Local police with federal authorities enacted their raids in three separate counties along Puget Sound. Local police have described it as the most significant probe into organized crime in Seattle, Washington's history. The Colacurcios face allegations that include evidence of prostitution, money laundering and mail fraud.

According to Robbie Burroughs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), court documents have named the clubs "Rick's" in Seattle, "Sugar's" in Shoreline, "Fox's" in Parkland, and "Honey's" in Everett, as well as the businesses "Talents West" talent agency and "Accurate Bookkeeping" in Seattle. The Colacurcios themselves were named as subjects of the investigation and raids. The Federal government additionally enacted a restraining order, unusually, as evidence in similar investigations is normally not made public prior to any indictments being issued. The restraining order, which can only be contested for ten days, bars the Colacurcios or their agents from selling, reducing the value of, or transferring three strip clubs, Rick's, Sugar's, and Honey's, or the related hiring and bookkeeping offices.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan has stated he plans to pursue the forfeiture of all the properties and businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). "For far too long, the Colacurcios' organization has made big money operating their clubs as fronts for prostitution," he said. "The Colacurcios have designed the clubs, the payment methods and the policies that encourage prostitution and to ensure they are the ones getting rich off these illegal sex acts."

As of June 3, neither the Colacurcios nor their attorneys had spoken with the media or in public about the raids and investigation.

The Colacurcios have a long history involving law enforcement. Frank Sr. was convicted in the 1940s for having sexual relations with a 16-year old girl. In 1957, a United States Senate hearing on organized crime identified him as a racketeer. In 1971 he was convicted on the federal level of running a bingo racket, and received a three year sentence. In the mid-70s, he served two years in custody for a tax evasion that was overturned in an appeal. In 1981, he received a conviction for tax fraud from skimming profits on a night club, and in 1991 he and his son, Frank Jr., were convicted of a similar crime for clubs they ran in Alaska.

In January 2008, they both plead guilty for their role in Seattle's "Strippergate" campaign-financing scandal which erupted in 2003. The scandal involved funnelling illegal campaign finances through various associates to the re-election campaigns of various Seattle City Council members, before a zoning election for a club they owned. The event is what led to the current raids and investigations.