Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Police Raids on Houston Gentlemen's Clubs Continue

An apparently very talent rich Houston strip club, St. James Cabaret became the latest target of Houston law enforcement's increased focus on sexually oriented businesses. In the last eighteen months, police have raided at least five gentlemen's clubs netting in excess of fifty arrests in the Houston, Texas area - perking the interest of Houston criminal defense lawyers. Charges have ranged from violations of the proximity ordinance (the law governing how close a dancer can get to a customer), prostitution, and violations of other strict regulations governing sexually-oriented businesses. Captain Glen Yorek of Houston Police Department recently stated in a KVUE news report that the department has an entire unit within its vice division dedicated to adult entertainment businesses. Houston criminal defense attorneys, club owners, and dancers must recognize law enforcement's focus on the industry and conduct themselves accordingly.

In January, Houston police raided the club Treasures for the third time in a little over a year's time after undercover vice squad officers spent weeks in the Treasures club, where they were frequently approached by dancers who allegedly offered sex for cash. The raid resulted in ten arrests with at least eight prostitution charges.

Police raided the Penthouse Club in August 2007 on suspicion that employees were dealing in narcotics.

In January 2007, Treasures found itself the target of two police raids. The first resulted in the arrest of strippers on a variety of charges, including prostitution, performing lewd acts, and violations of statutes governing sexually-oriented businesses. Two weeks later, Houston police raided the club a second time and arrested four more dancers and one male employee.

Within the same time period, Houston police raided The Men's Club in September 2007 and arrested five female dancers on misdemeanor charges. Undercover raids are nothing new in Houston's adult entertainment scene. The Men's Club was also a club targeted in the crackdown when Houston hosted the Super Bowl in 2004. In January 2006, Moments Cabaret was raided and six dancers were arrested for violating the proximity ordinance.

Some believe the next target may be Corpus Christi's new Roxy's Men's Club - a restaurant and bar that some characterize as a very risque version of Hooters. The new club is claimed to feature women wearing outfits from bikinis to pasties, covering up only what is legally required, to avoid being considered a sexually-oriented business. The club is hinging on its on an absence of any specific language in city ordinances that outlines exactly how much has to be covered up to avoid the sexually-oriented business label

Needless to say, Houston criminal defense attorneys have had their hands full. The risk for club owners concerns the city's ability to file a lawsuit to shut the club down similar to the one filed years ago against Glamour Girls or an attack on the club's liquor license. As individual cases vary, Houston area club owners facing charges or fearing themselves the target of a law enforcement investigation should consult with a Houston criminal defense attorney to discuss their specific situation. Bertolino LLP employs criminal defense attorneys who are well experienced in complex criminal prosecutions and undercover vice operations.

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