Rodman named in strip club case

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Former basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman and Denver Broncos superstar Terrell Davis are among the latest celebrities to be associated in court with Atlanta's notorious Gold Club, whose owner is accused of courting them with free sex shows and trysts with club performers.

Thomas ``Ziggy'' Sicignano, a key witness in the federal government's wide-ranging racketeering case against club owner Steve Kaplan and six associates, testified Tuesday that he and Kaplan arranged for two dancers to meet Rodman — a frequent Gold Club visitor — in his hotel room for sex once in 1998.

Sicignano also said Kaplan arranged a sex show for three New York Knicks rookies in 1997 in Charleston, S.C., where the team was training. He said six club dancers performed for John Wallace, Walter McCarty and Dontae Jones and had sex with them.

``The three rookies were very excited about what was going on,'' Sicignano said.

Prosecutors have painted Kaplan as a starstruck profiteer who used the lure of sex with club dancers to entice celebrities and professional athletes to raise the profile of the strip club, believed to be the nation's most profitable.

Sicignano said dancers also provided oral sex at the club for former World Championship Wrestling executive Eric Bischoff, NBA players Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Johnson, and Davis.

Spokesmen for the Knicks, the National Basketball Association and the individual athletes named all declined to comment when the allegations were raised earlier this year.

Sicignano, one of the club's top advisers in 1994 when Kaplan bought it, pleaded guilty to withholding information from investigators and will get a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against the other defendants.

The accused face racketeering charges, including accusations of credit card fraud, prostitution, loansharking and funneling money to the Gambino crime family.

Also Tuesday, the jury had its first opportunity to hear from Kaplan, via a videotape made without his knowledge in a business office in New York City. On the tape, Kaplan boasts to New York associates about how much money is made at the Gold Club through the sale of private VIP rooms at several hundred dollars each, and dancers pushing expensive champagne and meals on customers.

Sicignano also testified about accompanying Kaplan to move $5 million to $10 million in cash from Kaplan's home to another location soon after the club was raided by the FBI in March 1999.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Art Leach is expected to finish his examination of Sicignano on Wednesday, giving way to the seven defense attorneys for what is expected to be a lengthy cross-examination.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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