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Strip-club owners charged over campaign donations
Seattle Times staff reporter
Longtime Seattle strip-club operators Frank Colacurcio Sr. and Frank Colacurcio Jr. were charged Wednesday along with an associate with numerous civil violations of city campaign laws for allegedly funneling illegal campaign contributions to two Seattle City Council members in 2003.
The charges — 29 counts in all — were filed by Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, against the Colacurcios and Marsha Furfaro, an employee of their stripper-hiring agency, Talents West.
The three accused already face separate criminal charges stemming from this so-called "Strippergate" scandal, in which thousands of dollars from Colacurcio associates suddenly flowed to three City Council members prior to a 2003 council vote to expand the parking lot of Rick's strip club in Lake City. Another Colacurcio associate, Gil Conte, is also charged in the criminal case.
The rush of donations aroused suspicion at the time, and investigators uncovered evidence that donors had been reimbursed in cash by the Colacurcios or their associates in an apparent effort to skirt city campaign-donation limits.
Colacurcio Jr. is charged with a dozen counts of illegally reimbursing donors and violating campaign-contribution limits. His father, Colacurcio Sr., faces nine charges and Furfaro is charged with eight violations, according to charging papers.
John Wolfe, an attorney for Colacurcio Jr., said attorneys will "vigorously defend" the three accused against the latest charges as well as the ongoing criminal case.
The civil charges — which contained no new revelations — carry a maximum fine of $5,000 per violation plus double the amount of the alleged illegal campaign contributions. The total fines could approach $180,000, Barnett said.
A hearing before the ethics commission has been scheduled for June 28.
The latest charges also come amidst wider law-enforcement scrutiny of the Colacurcios.
The FBI, King County Sheriff's Office and Seattle police have been investigating whether Colacurcio Sr. is linked to decades-old homicides connected to the strip-club industry. And authorities are probing whether the Colacurcios have profited from illegal activities including prostitution at four strip clubs they control in the Seattle area.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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