Strip club worker admits selling drugs, role in prostitution
LAFAYETTE — The conspiracy case involving a Carencro strip club netted a second guilty plea Thursday, this time from a club supervisor who admitted to U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna that she sold drugs to patrons and collected proceeds from prostitution that was ongoing in the club’s VIP room.
Crystal Sampy, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises at Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret.
Sampy was one of 10 defendants charged in a drug and prostitution sting in which local, state and federal agents conducted a months-long undercover operation at the club.
Sampy was charged with nine others, including club owner James Panos and his wife, Jennifer, in a May 8 superseding indictment. Seven defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises, a charge that includes illegal drug sales.
Sampy faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, Hanna said. Hanna did not set a sentencing date.
A trial is scheduled for Dec. 9, though Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers Namie has requested the trial be delayed. In court papers filed this week, Namie cited the case’s complexity in requesting the delay.
Earlier this month, former Desperado’s employee Elias “E.J.” White pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The nude dance club off Interstate 49 in Carencro was closed after a December raid by federal agents, which followed months of undercover surveillance.
Hanna, reading from court papers Thursday, said Sampy worked at the club from August 2006 until the raid on Dec. 5. She supervised club employees and was responsible for staffing the bar with dancers and bar personnel.
Sampy admitted selling prescription pain pills Loritab and hydrocodone to undercover agents, as well as hydroponic marijuana and cocaine. The cocaine sold for $50 to $70 a gram.
She also admitted to collecting $25 from each prostitution session in Desperado’s VIP room, and depositing those and other prostitution fees into a safe in the office of the owner, Panos.
Namie, the federal prosecutor, said in court papers filed Tuesday that he wanted to delay the trial for Panos and the other seven defendants because attorneys would not complete collecting trial information until Sept. 15.
Namie wrote that the time between Sept. 15 and the Dec. 9 trial was insufficient to “continue to negotiate plea agreements with the eight remaining defendants” or to review 28,000 documents that have been gathered and interview new witnesses.
The motion to continue the trial states Panos has objected to delaying the trial.
A message left at Panos’ attorney’s office seeking comment was not returned Thursday.
Panos is faces three felonies, including racketeering and illegal weapons charges. Jennifer Panos is charged with racketeering and drug conspiracy. Baton Rouge businessman Dipak Vora is charged with one count of racketeering.
Five others, all former club employees, face one count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises.