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Cheetah’s Strip Club Owner Gets 15 Months in San Diego

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Aired 4/19/09

The former owner of the Cheetahs strip club is going to prison. Michael Galardi was sentenced to 15 months today. Galardi said he bribed San Diego politicians with cash. The sentence comes a week after a Las Vegas judge sentenced Galardi to two-and-a-half years for racketeering. KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps reports.

Las Vegas club owner Michael Galardi operated in a culture of corruption. It all came tumbling down two years ago.

Tom Fudge : Two members of the San Diego City Council have been convicted on federal corruption charges, and we will bring you more news on that as we receive it.

Galardi paid a lobbyist to bribe the councilmen. He wanted to get rid of the "no touching" rule at Cheetahs. The rule never got repealed. Instead, federal prosecutors stepped in. Galardi describes the last four years as "pure hell." In federal court, he apologized to the judge for embarrassing San Diego.

Afterward, Galardi told reporters that bribery is just part of the business. He says nightclub owners are held hostage by politicians.

Galardi won't be able allowed back in the business for three years. He'll also pay a $30,000 fine. That's pocket change for a man worth $45-million.

For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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