Murder Incorporated

Thursday, July 20, 2006

About Steve Kaplan

Not far away, up in Atlanta, the lights to the Gold Club have finally gone out. The club, once a prominent Atlanta strip club, was strung by a federal indictment which claimed the bar was a front for prostitution, that it over billed patrons, provides free sex to celebrities, bribed police officers and bought protection from the Gambino organized crime family and laundered its money.

The clubs owner is Steven Kaplan, a longtime associate of John A. Gotti Jr. and 15 others, including two strippers, were charged in a federal indictment that alleges the Gold Club was controlled by New York's Gambino crime family. Law Enforcement official identify Kaplan as a longtime associate who worked in Junior Gotti's crew when Junior was a capo.

The indictment said that the elder Gotti collected payment from clubs that Kaplan owned in Manhattan and Boca Raton, Florida and that after the elder Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992, his son took over the family and the collection of the payments from Kaplan.

The indictment says Kaplan paid the Gambinos protection money, bribed Atlanta police, overbilled patrons and laundered millions in illegal profits since 1988. Prosecutors also allege that after John Gotti, Jr. was indicted in New York one of his subordinates used Kaplan to keep a potential witness quiet about the Gambinos' control of Scores, a Manhattan strip club.

Kaplan is accused of providing dancers and hookers to celebrities and athletes as part of a $50 million criminal operation with ties to the Gambino family. NBA stars cooperated with the FBI agents who were investigating the Gold Club and said that the club's owner, Steve Kaplan, procured hookers for pro basketball players at least seven times between 1994 and 1998.

The indictment against Kaplan stated that in April of 1997, Kaplan brought strippers to the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, to perform a lesbian sex show. Afterwards the women offered sex to some of the Knicks players.

It also alleges that Kaplan provided strippers as prostitutes to NBA players at an Augusta, Georgia hotel, at the Gold Club's Gold Room and inside the Atlanta Swiss Hotel.

According to the 97-page indictment, Kaplan provided strippers to perform oral sex on unnamed pro basketball players inside his Gold Rooms which the players allegedly "rented" using "Gold Bucks" or fake money that the club normally sold to patrons to slip into strippers' G-strings or "rent" one of the club's 19 VIP Gold Rooms for watching nude lap dances in private. On one occasion, Kaplan approved comp slips for "Patrick Ewing and friends" for a total bill of $2,233, including a $991 tab in a single night, and that he also authorized free liquor and sex shows to former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman and professional wrestlers Randy (Macho Man) Savage, Diamond Dallas Page, Lou Sabh, Scott Steiner and Saturn.

Officials say that the favors were probably provided to attract celebrities to the club rather then to influence athletes to throw games or to divulge information that could help gamblers. The indictment describes Kaplan handing a bag of $20 bills packaged in $2,000 bundles to a Gambino capo identified as "M.D." during a ride to LaGuardia Airport in 1997.

It also described a scheme by club employees to charge thousands of dollars to unsuspecting customers on their credit cards for food and drinks, which were never authorized. Some club members of club management were also charged with double-billing, fraudulently obtaining signatures and altering credit card receipts.

The racketeering indictment charges that Kaplan intimidated his competitors by using his Mafia ties and corrupted two Atlanta police officers in return for special favors and that he skimmed cash from his businesses to evade paying taxes.

The government has moved to seize Kaplan's Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, home. Otherwise, Kaplan is an American success story. The son of a magazine stand operator inside New York's Grand Central Terminal, he earned enough money in his life to consider making a bid to purchase an NBA franchise.


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