Defense Blasts Prosecution in Strippergate Closings

Defense attorneys for Clark County comissioners Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Dario Herrera blasted prosecutors in their closing arguments Tuesday, saying they presented little evidence to convict their clients.

The two commissioners are accused of taking bribes from Cheetah’s strip club owner Michael Galardi in exchange for voting against proposed measures aimed at curbing activities in strip clubs.

The trial, dubbed “Strippergate” by local media, is now in its closing phase before it goes to the jury.

Three clubs owned by Galardi, Cheetah’s in San Diego and Cheetah’s and Jaguars in Las Vegas – were raided last May by the FBI who were investigating allegations of illegal payoffs and bribes of public officials by the strip club mogul, who along with former county Commissioner Erin Kenny, last fall cut a deal to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Prosecutors allege that Galardi paid Herrera and Kincaid-Chauncey several thousand dollars a month, beginning in 2000 in exchange for their votes on strip club regulations. Herrera is alleged to have received a $30,000 payment from Galardi in 2001 after Herrera and his wife divorced, according to television station KLAS-TV.

Herrera is also accused of accepting sexual favors from Galardi’s dancers at the same time.

Prosecutors also accuse Kincaid-Chauncey of receiving $5,000 a month from Galardi, beginning in 2001.

The two defendants have denied any wrong doing.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Herrera’s Attorney Jerry Bernstein said the government purposely introduced sordid details about Herrera’s sexual indiscretions to taint the jury. He also complained that the evidence is simple hearsay by Galardi himself and one-time Galardi associate and political consultant Lance Malone.

Herrera had testified that he received sex from strippers at the club as well as a $10,000 check from Galardi that he claimed was a campaign contribution. He has denied he received any cash bribes.

On the stand, Galardi had admitted that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars paying off judges, lawyers, police, elected and public officials as well as $200,000 he said he paid Herrera and the estimated $85,000 he claims he paid Kincaid-Chauncey.

But no other officials have been charged in the case.

Kincaid-Chauncey attorney Richard Wright said prosecutors should not have been allowed to put Galardi on the stand after he made allegations about a government prosecutor which were later found to be false.