- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2001

The D.C. Council is planning to retract an alcohol regulation bill and reinstate a moratorium on downtown strip clubs applying for liquor licenses, city hall sources have told The Washington Times.

The council's plans come after The Times first reported that Scores, a New York City strip club with ties to organized crime, wants to open for business near Eighth and F streets NW.

Council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat and the bill's author, and council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, met this week to discuss the best way to modify the legislation, city hall sources said.

The bill could be modified and reintroduced during a third and final reading on Jan. 23, or it could be passed again in its entirety with the 1994 moratorium back in place, the sources said.

Some residential, business and religious groups have begun a lobbying campaign to persuade D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams to veto the legislation.

Mr. Williams has not taken a public position on the strip-club provision, but aides said last week he is expected to sign the bill into law as it is now written.

Council members have felt pressure from congressional Republicans, who indicated they would kill the strip-club provision or the entire alcohol regulation bill, one city hall source said.

Some members of Congress became alarmed after The Times reported that Scores had served as an extortion base for the Gambino crime family and organized crime leader John A. "Junior" Gotti, now in prison, the source said.

Council members are looking to retract the bill to avoid the embarrassment of a congressional override, the source said.

In several criminal prosecutions in New York over the past five years, Scores was connected to the crime syndicate, and several of its current and former employees were convicted of or admitted to violating the law while working for organized crime.

The council also became concerned with a rising chorus of criticism from police, religious leaders, residents and business groups who said the bill would lead to a proliferation of strip clubs and prostitution, violence and narcotics returning downtown to its former status as a red-light district.

"The last thing this District needs and this police department wants is mob stuff," Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer, the No. 2 official in the Metropolitan Police Department, said after learning of Scores' plans.

A staff member for Mrs. Ambrose said she could not confirm the report about plans to modify the bill and could not discuss the matter. She said Mrs. Ambrose was not available for an interview last night.

A spokesman for Mrs. Cropp said he could neither confirm nor deny the report that the council will reinstate the moratorium. "It's a rumor," said Cropp spokesman Mark Johnson.

Mr. Johnson said he discussed the alcohol bill and whether the council might modify it with Mrs. Cropp yesterday afternoon.

"I don't think [the council is] going to make a decision on this one way or the other in one afternoon," he said. "The last time I spoke to my boss was this afternoon, and that conversation leads me to tell you that I cannot tell you that's true."

"I don't know how anyone can know what's going to happen on that," Mr. Johnson added. "Anybody who wants to do that would want the chair to know what's going on. There could very well be some discussion being had."

Mr. Johnson left the possibility open that the council could still act to modify the law.

The bill had left Mrs. Cropp's office and was still in the legislative services office when Mr. Johnson checked yesterday afternoon, he said.

"Until it goes to the mayor, it's still in the council's authority to pull it back," Mr. Johnson said. "There could be some huddling and discussing."

The New York Times reported in October 1999 that Scores was controlled by Gotti through the Gambino crime family, according to the federal indictment handed down against Gotti and other syndicate figures.

During a murder trial of two Albanian brothers, ex-mob enforcer Willie Marshall testified he and others extorted money from the owners, disc jockeys and strippers at Scores for the Gambino crime family, the Times reported in 1999.

Another Gotti associate, John Sialiano, known as DJ Goumba Johnny from his days as a bouncer for Scores, received a five-month prison sentence last year after he was convicted of tax evasion.

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