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Originally published Friday, December 15, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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14 arrested in raid at Rick's strip club

In one of its largest recent crackdowns at a strip club, Seattle police arrested 13 dancers and a manager at Rick's on Lake City Way on...

Seattle Times staff reporter

In one of its largest recent crackdowns at a strip club, Seattle police arrested 13 dancers and a manager at Rick's on Lake City Way on Wednesday night, alleging violations ranging from prostitution to ignoring illegal activity.

Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb described the arrests as a typical vice operation using undercover officers who were sent into the club. But the arrests come as the FBI, Seattle police and the King County Sheriff's Office conduct a major investigation into Rick's and other strip clubs long run by Frank Colacurcio Sr., his son, Frank Jr., and others.

In the past two years, police have arrested dancers, alleging lewd conduct at Rick's and another club owned by Colacurcio Jr., Fox's, in Pierce County.

Both Colacurcios have criminal records, primarily for skimming cash from clubs to avoid taxes.

The FBI-local investigation, which grew out of the 2003 "Strippergate" campaign-contribution scandal in Seattle, is focusing on allegations of prostitution, criminal profiteering, political corruption and past turf battles with competitors.

As part of the investigation, detectives have arrested three people in the past year in separate cold-case homicides. The killings, which occurred in King and Yakima counties in the 1970s, have been investigated for ties to the strip-club industry.

In one of the cases, a Pierce County woman pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday in what police described as a contract slaying.

The Colacurcios have not been implicated in the killings.

In Wednesday's operation, police arrested many more dancers than in other recent crackdowns, temporarily bringing business to a halt about 9:45 p.m.

Officers arrested and booked 13 dancers and a manager, Whitcomb said. Another dancer committed violations, he said, but left before she could be arrested.

In all, the dancers were cited for 18 counts of illegal touching during lap dances; 16 counts of off-stage nudity, which is prohibited; 18 counts of accepting money for illegal acts; and four counts of prostitution. All are misdemeanors.

"That is a lot of activity for one night," Whitcomb said.

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The prostitution arrests were rare, involving allegations that dancers offered to perform sex acts in exchange for money.

In another unusual action, the manager was cited for reckless managerial conduct, a misdemeanor, for allegedly being aware of illegal activity and taking no action.

"I've not seen that before," said Gil Levy, the club's attorney, referring to the prostitution and managerial counts.

Levy said he couldn't comment on the overall allegations without seeing the police reports and he was not aware of a larger investigation.

The arrests came about five weeks after Seattle voters rejected an ordinance that would have required strippers to remain at least four feet from customers.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302

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