- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Even in a town used to baring it all — where gangster Bugsy Siegel is considered a founding father, showgirls are a way of life and old-timers fondly recall when the mob ran the casinos — the revelations in a political-corruption trial have been shocking.

Tough-talking strip club owner-turned-government star witness Michael Galardi says he tossed bags of cash to put politicians and others in his pocket. And when purple velvet Crown Royal bags stuffed with cash weren’t enough, say Galardi and prosecutors, he traded sex — using strippers, dancers and other club employees to keep elected leaders happy and voting his way.

For six weeks, jurors in the so-called G-sting trial have listened to FBI wiretaps, watched videotapes and heard testimony about politicians accused of taking bribes. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin today.

Two former Clark County commissioners, Dario Herrera and Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, are standing trial on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion under color of official right. They could get 45 years in prison if convicted. A third former commissioner, Lance Malone, who also was Galardi’s lobbyist, is due to stand trial in August. All three pleaded not guilty.

A fourth former commissioner, Erin Kenny, pleaded guilty and has testified for the prosecution. Galardi said he had sex at least six times with Kenny, which she denies. Galardi also says he paid $200,000 to Mr. Herrera from 1999 to 2003 and $85,000 to Mrs. Kincaid-Chauncey.

County officials rarely face such scandalous accusations or draw so much attention from federal investigators and prosecutors, but the Clark County Commission is one of the most powerful elected bodies in the state. Out of Nevada’s 2.2 million people, 1.7 million of them live in Clark County, where Las Vegas thrives on hotels, casinos and fancy clubs.

Mr. Herrera, a one-time rising political star who addressed the Democratic National Convention in 2000, has admitted that he interrupted a golf outing with Galardi to have sex behind the bushes with one of Galardi’s female employees. As his wife dabbed her eyes in the courtroom’s first row, Mr. Herrera admitted to getting lap dances from a stripper at one of Galardi’s clubs and said he’d had an affair with another Galardi employee during a trip to a California resort.

Mr. Herrera denied ever receiving cash from Galardi or Mr. Malone, but said he took a $10,000 check as a campaign contribution.

Mrs. Kincaid-Chauncey testified that she never traded votes for Galardi’s cash, but she acknowledged accepting money from Galardi through Mr. Malone. One envelope with $4,000 in cash went to help pay a grandson’s ski school scholarship. An additional $5,000 was a campaign contribution for her son’s failed bid for North Las Vegas City Council.

The case hinges on whether jurors believe Galardi, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in Las Vegas and in a related corruption case in San Diego, where two council members were convicted. He has been promised no more than five years in federal prison on both the San Diego and Las Vegas charges and could get probation.

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