LAFAYETTE — The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has indefinitely suspended the liquor license of Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret pending the outcome of a criminal case against the owner of the Carencro strip club.
A federal grand jury indicted 54-year-old James “Jim” Panos last month on a charge of “maintaining drug-involved premises” in an investigation of drug dealing and prostitution at his club.
The state temporarily suspended Desperado’s liquor license, and state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert said he decided after an administrative hearing Wednesday to maintain the suspension until the federal criminal case is resolved.
The future of the business could be tied to the outcome of the case after prosecutors put Panos on notice that they want to seize his club under laws that allow the government to seek the forfeiture of property linked to drug crimes.
In a court hearing in the case last month, a federal agent testified that Desperado’s has been the target of a two-year investigation into drug dealing and prostitution in a “VIP” room where dancers met customers for sex.
Investigators have said that undercover agents made at least 30 drug buys from waitresses, dancers and other employees of the strip club, easily obtaining painkillers, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Panos’ attorney has disputed whether Panos had direct knowledge of any illegal activity at the club.
Panos is free on a $50,000 unsecured bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 17.