- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A Baton Rouge businessman and another defendant in a federal drug and prostitution case involving a now-closed club in Carencro have been sentenced.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1sEbfvB ) U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote sentenced Dipak Vora to 10 months in federal prison on Thursday. Vora owned the land and building that housed Desperado’s.

“I regret and am ashamed of myself,” Vora told Foote and others, including his wife and two daughters, who were seated in the courtroom.

“I left a black mark on my family,” he said. “I’m very sorry.”

Desperado’s was raided in December 2012 by local, state and federal agents. For months previous to the raid, agents ran undercover operations that turned up rampant drug sales and prostitution in the strip club’s VIP room.

Vora and nine others, including club owners James and Jennifer Panos, were charged in a 2013 multi-count indictment. The Panoses are scheduled for sentencing Nov. 14.

Vora pleaded guilty in February to one count of aiding in a racketeering operation.

In February, Vora admitted to traveling each week from Baton Rouge to Desperado’s to pick up $3,000 and socialize with the dancers who performed nude.

“You profited handsomely,” Foote told Vora. “Your involvement was over a period of years.”

Vora also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and serve one year of supervised release.

Also on Friday, Gerald Cormier, of Carencro, was sentenced to 29 months in federal prison for selling 500 to 1,999 grams of cocaine to Desperado’s customers and dancers over the years. Cormier pleaded guilty in March.

Foote was more lenient on Lydia Gautreaux, Elias White, Heike Slattery and Crystal Sampy, handing down probation sentences of varying lengths to the former Desperado’s employees. All four pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises.

Still to be sentenced are former Desperado’s employees Tanja Clavier and Acquila Shanete Latigue, and the husband-wife team of James and Jennifer Panos, who for more than 10 years owned and ran the club off Interstate 49 in Carencro.

All four are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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