RI strip club could be closed over prostitution, drug charges

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island strip club could be shuttered permanently over accusations of drug dealing, prostitution and the onsite assault of a dancer, police said.

The Providence Board of Licenses will continue a hearing on Jan. 8 to decide whether to revoke the license for The Wild Zebra Gentlemen’s Club.

Until then, a back room where most of the alleged illegal activity occurred must be closed, police said.

In May, a dancer allegedly sold drugs to an undercover officer and propositioned him for sex at the club, police said. In March, an alleged human trafficker from Connecticut was accused of hitting a different dancer with his car outside the club and then physically assaulting her. The Connecticut man is facing felony assault and other charges.

The club denies the allegations of prostitution and drug dealing.

Major David Lapatin said he is inclined to revoke the club’s license.

The club’s attorney, Peter Petrarca, told the Providence Journal that the establishment will pursue an aggressive defense.

“We’re not going to take this lying down,” Petrarca said, “I can tell you that much.”

The board’s decisions are often reversed in legal appeals.

Another Providence strip club, Foxy Lady, successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court and state government the board’s attempts to permanently shut it down last year after three dancers were arrested on prostitution charges. Two of the dancers pleaded no contest; one was cleared by a judge.

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