FBI checking if agents got freebies from Vegas strip club owner

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Federal authorities are investigating whether FBI agents received improper gratuities at southern Nevada striptease clubs owned by a man who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a two-state political corruption case.

FBI spokesman Daron Borst said the bureau was checking club owner Michael Galardi's claim that FBI agents got complimentary treatment as patrons at his businesses.

Galardi is a focus of a public corruption and bribery investigation involving elected officials in Las Vegas and in San Diego, where he pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Galardi, during plea negotiations, told authorities that Eric Johnson, a federal prosecutor in the two-year probe, was a patron at his topless clubs. Galardi later said the claim was not true.

Johnson has declined comment, but left the case.

Borst said he did not know whether the allegations against FBI agents he declined to identify were being handled by the Department of Justice or the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility.

He said FBI agents may have visited Galardi's southern Nevada clubs, Cheetah's and Jaguars, during the investigation.

"The fact he may have 15 or 20 business cards does not shock me," Borst told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, adding that agents on official business would follow investigative leads and speak with club management.

Borst called it unlikely that agents were regular customers.

When the FBI raided the two clubs in May, they were looking for evidence of gifts or payments to Clark County Commission Chairwoman Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, former Las Vegas Councilman Michael McDonald and former county commissioners Dario Herrera and Erin Kenny.

Former County Commissioner Lance Malone, who worked as a lobbyist for Galardi, has been indicted in San Diego on public corruption charges. He has pleaded innocent.

Galardi faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He agreed to testify against the three San Diego city councilmen, who have each pleaded innocent.


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