Indicted strip club owner seeks change of venue

LAFAYETTE — The indicted owner of a closed Carencro strip club filed a motion in federal court Thursday seeking to move his trial out of Lafayette where he said media coverage has prejudiced potential jurors.

James Panos, who owns Desperado’s Gentleman’s Cabaret, also said in the motion that he wants a review of the government’s case against him, including a sample of any illicit drug on which federal prosecutors have based their criminal case against him.

Scott Iles, who is Panos’ Lafayette attorney, wrote in the motion that his client wants enough of a drug sample so that an independent chemist can analyze the substance.

Panos was indicted in December on one count of “maintaining drug involved premises.”

In the motion filed Thursday, Panos, 54, said the jury pool around Lafayette has been tainted by news coverage that published information contained in a court file sealed by a magistrate judge.

A clerical error at the federal Clerk of Court’s Office led to a sealed affidavit being left open to the public, which “inadvertently allowed for public consumption” of the file, according to the motion.

“At least two written media outlets, the Baton Rouge ‘Advocate’ and the Lafayette ‘Daily Advertiser,’ published extensive articles reflective of the content of the affidavit which was ordered to be under seal by this honorable court,” the motion says.

“Furthermore, portions of the contents of the affidavit were subject to widespread Internet journalism, television journalism, as well as secondary media markets.”

Iles on Thursday did not return a message left with his office seeking comment.

Panos also is fighting the U.S. government in a lawsuit he filed last week over what he said were guns that are collectors-items and were seized from his home by federal agents the same day in December that they raided Desperado’s, which is off Interstate 49 north of Lafayette.

Panos said in the lawsuit that the guns were not used in any crime –— he said some of the weapons had never been fired — and that combined they cost more than $10,000.

Panos remains out of jail on a $50,000 bond.