Gold Club In Atlanta
January 30, 2012 by staff
Gold Club In Atlanta, Steve Kaplan, the former owner of the Gold Club, a high-profile strip club here, was sentenced to 16 months in prison Tuesday.
Kaplan pleaded guilty in August to participating in activities involving a pattern of racketeering, failure to report a felony he had observed — prostitution — and credit card fraud. He could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison.
The Gold Club was also shut down as part of the deal. Kaplan, 42, lost his equity in the property and paid a $5 million fine — $1.9 million of it in cash delivered to the FBI in New York and another $300,000 in restitution to fraud victims.
“I made some bad judgments,” Kaplan said. “I hurt many feelings and I’m sorry for that.”
U.S. District Judge Willis Hunt said he declined to sentence Kaplan to the maximum sentence recommended by the government because his offense, while classified as racketeering, essentially amounted to credit card fraud, overcharging his other customers.
Hunt said it was his opinion that Kaplan provided big name athletes with Gold Club dancers who performed sexual favors mainly to ingratiate himself with the players so he could be on a first-name basis with them.
He said the government’s attempt to show Kaplan’s activities were underwritten by New York mobsters was “reasonably unsuccessful.”
The judge said his leniency also stemmed from Kaplan’s cooperation in helping to clear the case after agreeing to a plea bargain.
Kaplan also must perform 400 hours of community service after he completes his jail term. With time off for good behavior, he could be out of prison in 13 months, the judge said.
Lead prosecutor Art Leach said he was “somewhat” disappointed in the sentence, but “It could have been worse.”
In pleading for a shorter jail term, Kaplan recited a litany of good deeds he claimed to have performed, among them funding basketball programs for impoverished kids, helping the homeless at New York’s Penn Station and delivering water and pizza to rescue workers and firefighters after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Earlier, former club employees testified that although Kaplan was “no choirboy” and a tough businessman, he often dug into his own pockets to help co-workers cope with problems such as cancer in the family and abusive relationships.
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