BR man involved with Carencro strip club to change plea

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A Baton Rouge businessman who pleaded not guilty in May on a racketeering count involving the former Carencro strip club, is expected to change his plea Jan. 31. The now shuttered Desperado's Gentleman's Cabaret near Carencro has been the  subject of an ongoing drug and prostitution case in Lafayette Parish. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A Baton Rouge businessman who pleaded not guilty in May on a racketeering count involving the former Carencro strip club, is expected to change his plea Jan. 31. The now shuttered Desperado's Gentleman's Cabaret near Carencro has been the subject of an ongoing drug and prostitution case in Lafayette Parish.

BR businessman to cooperate in Desperado’s case

Another figure in the drug, prostitution and racketeering trial involving a former Carencro strip club and its owner indicates in a federal document that he will change his plea from guilty and cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Dipak Vora, a Baton Rouge businessman who had pleaded not guilty in May to one count of racketeering connected to the shuttered Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret, is scheduled to change his plea Jan. 31, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Lafayette.

Vora’s attorney in Baton Rouge, Lance Unglesby, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Vora would be the fifth of 10 defendants charged in the case to change his plea.

On Nov. 25, former club employees Tanja Clavier and Lydia Gauthreaux each pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises. That day, Clavier told U.S. District Magistrate Judge Pat Hanna, “I’m pleading guilty to selling cocaine.”

Two other former employees, Elias “E.J.” White and Crystal Sampy pleaded guilty to the same charge. Another employee, Gerald Cormier, was scheduled to change his plea but eventually chose not to do so.

White, Sampy, Clavier and Gauthreaux are scheduled to be sentenced June 11.

Vora is the only defendant who wasn’t an everyday worker at the club, maintaining an arms-length distance from Desperado’s that, according to a lawsuit, Vora financed in 1994.

Prosecutors allege Desperado’s was a site where out-in-the-open drug sales occurred and prostitutes carried on in the club’s VIP room.

Desperado’s owner James Panos and his wife remain defendants.

Panos faces charges of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Panos’ attorney, Kevin Stockstill, did not return a call Thursday.

Jennifer Panos is charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises.

A trial is scheduled for May 12.