By Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A former dancer at the now-shuttered Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret and a longtime customer of the business pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution charges in a federal probe of prostitution and drug dealing at the Carencro strip club.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1r4l8m5 ) Acquila Shanete Latigue, the former dancer, and Gerald Cormier, who was a regular customer, both admitted dealing cocaine to customers and employees at the club.

They each face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.

The two guilty pleas Thursday bring the total number of pleas in the case to eight, including Desperado’s co-owner Dipak Vora, 70, a Baton Rouge businessman and chemical engineer who admitted in January to one count of aiding a racketeering operation.

All have agreed to cooperate in the case against the remaining two defendants, club owner James Panos, 55, and his wife, Jennifer “Nancy” Panos, 47, of Broussard.



Their trial is set for May 12 on drug and racketeering charges.

In prior court hearings, federal investigators have said Desperado’s was the subject of a two-year investigation that involved at least 30 undercover drug buys of painkillers, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine at the strip club.

Latigue admitted Thursday to selling cocaine to undercover agents at the club on five separate occasions in 2010.

Agents also have testified that customers routinely met dancers for sex in a “VIP” room, with the club taking a cut of the payment.

The indictment characterizes the environment at Desperado’s as “anything goes.”

James Panos’ attorney has disputed whether his client had direct knowledge of the ongoing illegal activity at the club.

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

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