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Chippendale’s Owner Admits Murder : Courts: Man who began male stripper revue pleads guilty to homicide, racketeering charges. He will get 26 years in prison.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The owner of Chippendale’s, a touring company of male strippers, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to arranging the murder of an award-winning television producer and to a racketeering charge growing out of an attempted arson at a Marina del Rey restaurant.

By pleading guilty to a murder-for-hire charge, Somen (Steve) Banerjee admitted that he was responsible for the April, 1987, murder of Emmy Award-winning television producer Nick Denoia in New York City, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Sally L. Meloch.

Denoia, once choreographer for Chippendale’s touring dance company, was shot in the face at his mid-town Manhattan office. An unidentified assailant was hired by Banerjee and another man for an undisclosed sum, according to the indictment charging Banerjee with murder for hire.

Banerjee, 47, also pleaded guilty to orchestrating the 1984 attempted burning of the Red Onion Restaurant and Bar in Marina del Rey.

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Banerjee’s guilty plea “brings to an end an extensive four-year investigation during which FBI agents traveled worldwide to build a prosecutable case,” said Charlie Parsons, special agent in charge of the bureau’s Los Angeles office.

Under terms of Friday’s plea bargain, Banerjee, who lives in Playa del Rey, will be sentenced to 26 years in prison and he must forfeit his interest in Chippendale’s, Meloch said.

In September, Banerjee was arrested and charged with hiring a man in 1990 to kill three of his former Chippendale’s associates, but those men, who had defected to a rival male dance revue, were not killed.

In October, he was also charged with orchestrating De Noia’s murder and with violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) through a pattern of racketeering activity that included murder, murder for hire, solicitation to commit murder and arson.

The basic theme of the October indictment was “that anybody or anything that got in Banerjee’s way, he would hire somebody to kill or burn the competitor,” Parsons said.

Banerjee, a native of Bombay, India, bought a failing bar on Overland Avenue on the Westside in 1975 and renamed it Chippendale’s. He launched his “Male Exotic Dance Night for Ladies Only” four year later, and the club quickly began drawing overflow crowds of women who came out to see muscular men who stripped to their G-strings.

Eventually the club closed, but Banerjee continued to operate the touring company of male dancers from an office in Santa Monica. At the height of his success, Banerjee also had clubs in New York, Dallas and Denver.


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