Reporter Freaks Over Swing Club In Adult Store

MELROSE PARK, Ill.—The Chicago Sun-Times, among others, has freaked out upon discovering that a local adult bookstore has turned its back room into a swing club where "couples and singles have multiple sex partners as part of organized, late-night sessions"—and one of the owners is a former cop convicted eight years ago of accepting bribes to ignore a "lucrative video poker gambling operation" and with alleged ties to organized crime.

According to the "news" story by staff reporter Steve Warmbir—"warm beer"?—the cop, Robert Urbinati, was allegedly a "message man" for, among others, the late head of the "Chicago Outfit," Anthony Centracchio, who "made the news in 2001 when it was revealed the geriatric mobster was caught on a secret FBI video recording having sex with a younger employee at the abortion clinic he ran."

Readers might justifiably be puzzled as to what a nine-year-old FBI sex tape or an abortion clinic has to do with a modern-day swing club in a book store buried deep in the city's industrial district—but likely no more puzzled by that than by the newspaper's smear of Urbinati's former defense attorney, "Joseph 'The Shark' Lopez, who has represented many alleged mobsters."

Still, Warmbir quoted Lopez to the effect that "there was no prostitution at the business, and no illegal drugs, just consenting adults doing their own thing," as they also did at a local motel chain, Sybaris, where "couples go for romantic weekends."

Warmbir also reported that the Cook County sheriff had sent undercover officers into the store "on several occasions and found nothing illegal happening," that the Department of Health had also investigated and "found no issues," and that the store was properly zoned.

Apparently the sheriff's report was good enough for Melrose Park mayor Ronald Serpico, who "argued that the vast majority of Melrose Park residents don't even know the business is there or what goes on there, given its location," 2125 N. 15th Ave., more than three miles from any major highway, about half a mile from Triton College, and more than a mile from the Kiddieland Park.

"It couldn't be further away from civilization," Serpico told Warmbir. "Not one resident has called to complain."

And while Serpico also told the reporter that he'd rather be discussing the recent Super Bowl game, he said he had no problem with the store's existence or with the criminal background of one of its owners.

"I can't regulate morality," Serpico said. "I can't control what somebody has done in the past."