GOLD CLUB trial halted for plea negotiations; report says Kaplan offered 3-year sentence

Wednesday, August 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Testimony was abruptly halted Wednesday in the trial of a strip club owner accused of using sex to bring in celebrity athletes, as defense attorneys considered deals offered by prosecutors.

Five of the seven defendants were offered deals, according to courthouse sources who would not give details of the offers. The sources 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 that Steve Kaplan, the owner of the strip club, was offered three years in prison and a $5 million fine. The report said he also would give up ownership of the club, which is the most profitable strip club in the nation. The report was attributed to sources familiar with the plea negotiations.

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

Prosecutors said Kaplan used the lure of sex to attract professional athletes and celebrities while cheating customers to funnel cash to New York's Gambino crime family. He and six others are 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 the fall.

Four other defendants who worked at the club _ Larry Gleit, Jacklyn Bush, Norbert Calder and Roy Cicola _ would receive probation if they agreed to the offer, the Journal-Constitution reported. They faced from 70 to 95 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The trial would proceed for two other defendants, former Atlanta police officer Reginald Burney and Michael DiLeonardo, an alleged captain of the Gambino crime family.

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