Springfield Republican Reports on Strip Clubs and the Mafia

A front-page story in today’s Sunday Republican describes the last months of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, whose leading role in Western Massachusetts organized crime ended when he was gunned down in November 2003. Strip clubs feature prominently in the article…

During the spring of 2002, Adolfo “Big
Al” Bruno inflamed local mafia wiseguys and club owners
by muscling them for increased “rent” to revive
illicit revenues choked by a law enforcement crackdown on
organized crime in Western Massachusetts, police reports

“The individual providing information stated that
Bruno informed the ranking (La Cosa Nostra) members in New
York City that due to the disorganization and disarray among
its members, the Springfield (LCN) faction was not
collecting or making money for the larger (LCN)
organization,” says a sworn statement drafted in 2002
by a state police organized crime investigator.

A witness told police Bruno walked away from that meeting
with authority from his higher-ups to strong-arm strip
clubs, smoke shops, liquor stores and pizza joints for
higher “rent” to fill the void. “Rent”
is one of the terms organized crime members have
historically used to label so-called protection money.

Soon after the meeting, reputed members of the Genovese
faction began commuting here from New York each weekend to
stake out clubs, estimate head counts and skim door profits,
the affidavit states…

The first tip on the alleged extortion scheme came in
through a city patrolman working an extra detail at the
former Hot Club in Stearns Square, according to the
statement, drafted by the then-Trooper Thomas J. Daly to
secure a recording device and a global positioning system in
Arillotta’s Ford Expedition…

“The individual stated that the owners of these
businesses do not want to pay Bruno, but that Bruno was
pressuring them to pay this money through intimidation of
organized crime,” the source reported. The affidavit
identifies the alleged payers as the Mardis Gras on Taylor
Street, Teddy B’s strip club on Worthington Street, two
other unnamed strip clubs and the Red Rose restaurant on
Main Street.

Any establishment collecting a cover charge had to hand
over $1 per patron to Bruno and the visitors from New York,
the source tells police…

One former bar owner, James Fiore, refused to pay,
triggering a confrontation at Friendly’s restaurant on
Sumner Avenue, according to the police report. Bruno’s
plan was to get the strip clubs in line and move on to other
city businesses, according to the police source cited in the

The primary visitor, constantly sporting gold-rimmed dark
glasses – indoors and out, day and night – was identified by
police as John Bologna. The other, described as “large
in stature,” was identified by police as Timothy
Sampson. Bologna is a lower-level Genovese “made
soldier” from New York, the documents state…

Bologna and Sampson invariably ended up at the Mardis Gras
most nights, the affidavit states. Their presence reportedly
raised the ire of late gangster Anthony J. Delevo, formerly
of Westfield, who, according to the police affidavit, was a
“hidden partner” in the strip club.

“The presence of two subjects inside the Mardis Gras
on weekend nights serves to represent the interests of (LCN)
in New York and is also an effort by Adolfo Bruno to
humiliate a subject identified as Anthony Delevo,”
stated the affidavit…

See also:

State of Minnesota, Report of the Attorney General’s Working
Group on the Regulation of Sexually Oriented Businesses, Office of
the Attorney General (June 6, 1989)

is a seminal work which
investigates the secondary effects of adult businesses from a number of
different research perspectives. Not only is the effect on crime
included, so is the effect on neighborhood disorganization and
disorder, as are the effects on property values addressed. The New York
study also concluded that business locations with adult-oriented
businesses had a significant loss of sales tax collections (42%) as
compared to control areas. Studies of Minneapolis, St. Paul,
Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Los Angeles are cited. RICO and organized
criminal elements of the industry
are also discussed. It was found that dramatic increases in crime rates
were directly
associated with the introduction of adult-oriented businesses into any
studied. Evidence is articulated indicating that property crimes were
forty to fifty
percent higher, and sex-related crimes were found to be seventy to as
much as 500
percent higher–depending upon the municipality. Other non-crime
issues are also discussed.

US Appeals Court Upholds Daytona Zoning and Public Nudity Ordinances; No Grandfathering for Lollipop’s Gentlemen’s Club; Rebutting Daniel Linz

The opinion describes the harms that adult theaters impose on Daytona Beach, the city’s drive to regulate these enterprises, dodges and arguments employed by theater operators, and the standards by which the constitutionality of adult-use zoning is evaluated. The court affirms that cities may draw upon anecdotal evidence and common sense when drafting laws, in addition to scientific studies…

Langston testified that the blight deterred investment — hotel development ceased in 1975, and in the late 1970’s, Daytona Beach was denominated the “City of Sleaze…”

David Smith, an assistant state attorney who had prosecuted drug and prostitution offenses in Daytona Beach, also testified that “‘most definitely’ there were more drug and prostitution offenses in topless bars than in other bars…”

It has been by now clearly established that reducing the secondary effects associated with adult businesses is a substantial government interest “that must be accorded high respect…”

…the City’s rationale was to reduce the negative secondary effects associated with adult theaters:

It is hereby found that the acts prohibited in [this ordinance] encourage the conduct of prostitution, attempted rape, rape, murder, and assaults on police officers in and around establishments dealing in alcoholic beverages, that actual and simulated nudity and sexual conduct and the depiction thereof coupled with alcohol in public places begets undesirable behavior, that sexual, lewd, lascivious, and salacious conduct among patrons and employees within establishments dealing in alcoholic beverages results in violation of law and dangers to the health, safety and welfare of the public…

…the City also relied on its own experiences to support its rationale. That legislative history includes: a document describing the difficulties faced by law enforcement in arresting and successfully prosecuting crimes relating to prostitution and pornography and listing arrests for prostitution and other crimes that occurred in or near many Daytona Beach adult businesses; a short memorandum written by the City’s police chief that provides “a partial list of situations, offenses and incidents which have occurred within the areas of topless bar establishments …. [that] can be substantiated by police reports and testimony of various police officers”; police dispatch records of calls for service (“CAD data” [“CAD” stands for Computer Automated Dispatch] [22]) from areas around adult businesses from November 1980 to July 1981, which were attached to the police chief’s memorandum; police reports of eighty-three prostitution arrests; police reports of seven arrests for assault and battery of a police officer in or near an adult theater; and the minutes of a public hearing summarizing local business owners’ firsthand accounts of criminal activity in and around adult businesses…

The Ordinance sets forth the following findings: “The appearance of persons in the nude in public places…increases incidents of lewd and lascivious behavior, prostitution, sexual assaults and batteries, attracts other criminal activity to the community, encourages degradation of women, and facilitates other activities which break down family structures and values…”

Langston testified that live nude and seminude entertainment businesses “promote and perpetuate urban decay” and that “adult businesses have impacted on crime in the area surrounding Daytona Beach.” Id. at 547. Smith, who as an assistant state attorney had prosecuted drug and prostitution offenses in Daytona Beach, concurred that “there were more drug and prostitution offenses in topless bars than in other bars…”

Footnote 34 from the PDF of the court’s opinion: In addition to crimes against persons, crimes against property, and sex crimes, the study that focused on Ordinance 81-334 also analyzed “miscellaneous incidents that share in common that they involve violations of social norms…., includ[ing] drunkenness, disorderly conduct, drug offenses, liquor law violations, and weapons complaints.” (Experts’ Report 27.) The study found a statistically significant increase in these so-called “norm violations” in areas with adult theaters compared to control areas, (id. at 33-34), which could be read to support part of the City’s rationale for Ordinance 81-334. See Ordinance 81-334 § 2 (seeking to reduce “undesirable behavior” and “dangers to the health, safety and welfare of the public”). Similarly, the study that focused on Ordinance 02-496 found a statistically significant increase in drug related offenses in areas with adult theaters compared to control areas. (Experts’ Report 80, 105 tbl.10.)

Strip Clubs Are the Next Hot Thing on Wall Street, Fund Manager Tells Barron’s
“…the girls who work there, the dancers, or what the
industry calls the “talent,” pay $150 to $200 a shift for the privilege
of working…

“I asked one guy
in the business, ‘What’s the biggest risk to your business model?’ He
said if the government stops immigration from Eastern Europe.”

New York Times: “The Girls Next Door”; Worldwide Sex Trafficking; Role of Porn
In Eastern European capitals like Kiev and Moscow, dozens of
sex-trafficking rings advertise nanny positions in the United States in
local newspapers; others claim to be scouting for models and

women’s] idea of prostitution is ‘Pretty Woman,’ which is one of the
most popular films in Ukraine and Russia. They’re thinking, This may
not be so bad…”

The Science Behind Pornography Addiction (explicit language)
[Performers in the sex industry] have high rates of substance abuse,
typically alcohol and cocaine, depression, borderline personality
disorder which is a particularly serious disorder and dissociative
identity disorder which used to be called multiple personality
disorder. The experience I find most common among the performers is
that they have to be drunk, high or dissociated in order to go to work.
Their work environment is particularly toxic. One study on strippers
indicated that they were likely to be punched, slapped, grabbed, called
cunt and whore and to be followed home or stalked. Not surprisingly,
these women often work with bodyguards. This live form of pornography
causes violence and the customers receiving these Permission-Giving
Beliefs become carriers of these beliefs back to their homes, onto
their jobs, into the street, onto the school yard. There they encounter
women and children who do not have bodyguards.

The terrible work
life of the pornography performer is often followed by an equally
terrible home life. They have an increased risk of sexually transmitted
disease including HIV, domestic violence and have about a 25% chance of
making a marriage that lasts as long as 3 years.

“Waitressing, I cleaned the floors and I own a box of men’s wedding rings that I found on the floor.”
I went back to the strip bars to make money. I cannot tell you the lie
and the fantasy that it is for men. Waitressing, I cleaned the floors
and I own a box of men’s wedding rings that I found on the floor…

degradation and inferiority and humiliation of being presented as two
tits and a hole for entertainment was not as bad as the sexual
harassment I received from the management of these places. Customers
are not allowed to touch you, but management can and does. You cannot
complain to the Labor Board because they say you put yourself there
willingly, and usually it’s under the table. I felt worthless…

Crime, Nuisances Motivate Cities to Regulate the Location of Adult Entertainment Uses
The City of Kent, Washington had similar experiences with the Roadside
Inn Tavern. Prior to its forced closing, the Roadside Inn offered
topless dancing and table dancing in conjunction with its selling of
alcoholic beverages. Kent police investigations conducted in the summer
of 1981 revealed a very high incidence of criminal activity at the
Roadside, related primarily to sex crimes (prostitution) and drug
related offenses. As a result of 57 hours of on-premise investigation,
162 charges were brought against 21 persons by the Kent Police
Department. The report filed by the police stated: “The total time
involved, and the number of charges, break down to a time expenditure
of slightly more than 20 minutes per charge, attesting to the relative
ease by which the subject of prostitution arises within an environment
such as the Roadside.” In September, 1981, the Roadside Inn Tavern was
closed by the City of Kent.

Bothell’s experiences with Mama Hoopah’s in 1982 demonstrated similar
association between the use (an adult dance hall) and the occurrence of
crime. Research by the Bothell Police Department also demonstrated the
regional attraction that such an establishment can have. In one
investigation of the 321 vehicles checked, 8 were registered in Bothell
with most of the remainder from the Puget Sound region, though others
had out of state registration. This is potentially significant in that
nonresidents of an area may be less inhibited in their personal
behavior when away from their community. Nonresidents may also be
unaware of the needs or concerns of residents/owners of areas adjacent
to the adult entertainment use…

Secondary Effects Across America: 1977-1999
Austin, TX, 1986: Of 81 license plates traced for owner addresses, only three lived
within one mile of the sexually oriented business; 44 percent were from
outside Austin…

Seattle, WA, 1989: The increased number of cabarets resulted in citizen complaints,
including phone calls, letters (from individuals and merchant
associations) and several petitions with hundreds of signatures.
Protests cited decreased property values; increased insurance rates;
fears of burglary, vandalism, rape, assaults, drugs and prostitution;
and overall neighborhood deterioration. The report noted that patrons
of these cabarets most often are not residents of nearby neighborhoods.
Without community identity, behavior is less inhibited. Increased
police calls to a business, sirens and traffic hazards from police and
emergency vehicles are not conducive to healthy business and
residential environments.

Report to the Rome City Commission–Adult Entertainment, Police
Department, City of Rome, Georgia, (March 6, 1995)
This report
includes crime data from the city of La Grange, Georgia… Located in that small suburb of Atlanta, is a three-year-old
“adult nightclub.” In just one year (1994) that single adult-oriented nightclub
generated 141 calls-for-service, with thirty-five of those calls being criminal in nature.
Those crimes included such violent crimes as: eight criminal batteries and eight
aggravated assaults (knives, baseball bats, and firearms with shots fired). The
report also includes many of the other municipal studies articulated elsewhere in this

Viewing Booths and HIV: An Open Letter to Thomas Lesser of Northampton, Attorney for Capital Video

Police reports suggest a number of Springfield Capital Video patrons
are drunk. Scientists are finding that high-risk sex, intoxication and
being HIV-positive correlate with each other.

Boston Globe Profiled Kenneth Francis Guarino in 1983
Kenneth Guarino started Capital Video in 1979. As early as 1983, The Boston Globe published a profile of him and his operations:

…Although he was only 28 years old [in 1977], Guarino had become the biggest purveyor of pornography in New England…

who entered the business as a teenager, had risen to become one of the
nation’s top pornography dealers in less than 10 years. His companies
were grossing an estimated $3 million a year, and every month Guarino
was depositing an average of $175,000 into their bank accounts…

few things have changed for Guarino since the mid-1970s… One of his
closest associates was killed under mysterious circumstances when he
fell out of a moving car…

…Guarino has been tried and
convicted on federal charges for interstate distribution of obscene
materials (he has appealed), and he has been indicted for income-tax
evasion, as well as distribution of pornographic material involving

Guarino has never spent any time in prison [that changed in 1997],
and his pornography empire continues to grow… [H]e has branched out
through his wife, Paula, into the fastest growing area of the
pornography business: video cassettes…

Guarino refused to be interviewed, as did most of his present and past associates.

sources, including those in the FBI, Rhode Island State Police and
Providence Police, stated in interviews that Guarino has ties to
organized crime, especially the Carlo Gambino family in New York City.
There are these circumstances to support their statements:

major supplier of pornographic magazines and films has been Star
Distributors Ltd., a Manhattan company that is controlled by an
associate of two crime families, those of Gambino and Simone (Sam the
Plumber) DeCavalcante of New Jersey.

An undercover FBI agent who
helped bring obscenity-related indictments against numerous associates
of organized-crime families in the 1980 Miporn case said that, by
agreement, Guarino handled trade of books, magazines and sexual devices
in New England while the 16mm and 35mm movie business was reserved for
the DeCavalcante family.

Late in 1977, Guarino made out two
$7500 checks to an associate of the Gambino family. The money was the
single largest payment made to any individual out of Guarino’s
corporate funds during the three-year period from early 1975 to
February 1978, and it is labeled on Guarino’s ledger book as

Guarino’s company, Imperial Distributors, took
over as the prominent distributor of pornographic magazines in New
England in the early 1970s, from the now-defunct Atlantic Distributors
Inc., also of Providence. Providence police contend that Guarino went
to work for Atlantic around 1966 or 1967, shortly after he left Mount
Pleasant High School in his junior year.

In 1969, then 20 years
old, he started on his own and opened Imperial Distributors Inc. in
Providence. Within two years, most of the adult bookstores in New
England were buying their magazines and books from Imperial. The
details of how Guarino assumed major control of pornography
distribution from Atlantic Distributors are not known…

For pleasure, [Guarino] made frequent trips to Las Vegas, where he ran up thousands of dollars in casino “markers…”

FBI assigned one of its accountants to review the several ledger books
and other financial records seized at Guarino’s Imperial Distributors
headquarters. From that review, the FBI accountant concluded that
Guarino was failing to declare thousands of dollars in income that his
chain of retail stores was grossing…

In addition to inspecting
Guarino’s seized records, the FBI interviewed an accountant who had
worked on Guarino’s financial books from sometime in 1973 to February
1978. According to a confidential report on that interview, the former
accountant, William J. Martin 3d, told the FBI that “Guarino was
skimming over a half-million dollars a year” from his corporations and

At the time that the former accountant made the
charge, he was under indictment in Connecticut for embezzling more than
$146,000 in four separate checks from his full-time employer, General
Dynamics, in early 1978. Martin, according to the confidential report,
later told the FBI that he had embezzled the money on orders from
Guarino because Guarino needed money “for anticipated legal fees.”
However, Martin said he would not testify against Guarino in the case
because he feared for his safety…

Martin pleaded guilty to
charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy and was given a
four-to-eight-year suspended sentence. Guarino was never charged in the

Providence Journal Archives: Kenneth Guarino’s Mob Ties, Criminal Past, Global Empire
Kenneth Guarino, whose multimillion-dollar erotic empire has gone global, is going to prison…

Guarino, a millionaire, lives in a posh waterfront home in Cranston’s Edgewood neighborhood…

Guarino’s relationship with mobsters is well-documented. In 1991, the
Journal-Bulletin reported that Guarino, Natale Richichi and Gotti met
at a Johnston restaurant with other mobsters.

The seeds of the criminal charges were planted in February 1993, when
Guarino, Natale Richichi and Cino were indicted on charges that they
conspired to bribe the president of the Las Vegas stagehands union.

The men were accused of seeking to obtain favorable treatment in a
financially troubled stage show, at the now-defunct Dunes Hotel, that
Guarino had invested in.

As part of yesterday’s plea, the government dropped those charges.

Following that indictment, prosecutors said, they captured Guarino on
federal wiretaps, offering his own contacts in the underworld to help
Richichi get fake identification so he could flee to the Dominican

Richichi apparently considered himself more than Guarino’s protector.
The plea agreement says federal agents intercepted Richichi telling
Patriarca crime boss Francis P. “Cadillac Frank” Salemme “that
everything of Guarino’s was (Richichi’s)…”

Guarino has had past run-ins with the law. In June 1985, he pleaded
guilty to federal tax-evasion charges. He served three months in prison
and was fined $5,000.

In 1980, Guarino was arrested with 44 others in gambling raids in 12
Rhode Island communities, and charged with operating an organized-crime
gambling business. Seven years later, in 1987, he pleaded no contest to
bookmaking charges and was fined $250.

Capital Video Owner Kenneth Guarino “was associated with Natale Richichi, a capo in the Gambino family of La Cosa Nostra”
The following is taken from the records of the US Court of Appeals, where Guarino lost an appeal of a tax case in 2002.

In 1979, Kenneth Guarino created and incorporated Capital Video
Corporation, located in Cranston, Rhode Island; Guarino was the sole
shareholder. Capital Video was a distributor of pornographic
videotapes. Guarino was associated with Natale Richichi, a capo in the
Gambino family of La Cosa Nostra, who dealt directly with the bosses of
both the Gambino and Patriarca families and had influence with other
factions of La Cosa Nostra. Guarino was concerned that members of other
organized crime families would extort money from, or take over, his
multimillion dollar business. He also worried that organized crime
would interfere with his other business ventures, including a show at
the Dunes Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, called “Night Dreams,” and a
precious metals business in the New England area.

Guarino in 1979 began to pay ‘tribute’ to Richichi to fend off
extortion attempts and to assist Guarino with other business matters
where Richichi’s influence as a capo might benefit Guarino… The total
amount of the payments is in dispute, but between July 1985 and
September 1995, Guarino paid Richichi at least $1,728,000 in cash…

In January 1997, Guarino, as part of a plea agreement, pled guilty only
to the charge of conspiracy to evade taxes. He was sentenced to sixteen
months in prison, eleven of which were served in a halfway house, and
fined $250,000…

Valley Advocate: “Erotica: Eden’s Dark Side”
The mafia and its business associates understand the First Amendment,
and they know how to push liberals’ buttons. They’ve done it before in
this area with dismaying success, recruiting liberal lawyers to help
keep notorious Springfield mobster Al Bruno out of jail in the early
’90s, to mention one example…

It’s a far cry from D.H.
Lawrence, from gentle line drawings of women making love with women, to
a store front that sets a porn mogul with a history of mafia ties up in
the middle of Northampton’s Rte. 5 business district. It would be an
irony, and not a happy one, for the more elevated arguments in favor of
porn to shield the underside of the industry as it would touch down in
Northampton, possibly drawing profits to interests quite at odds with
the character of this community.

Capital Video Springfield: Secondary Effects Extend to Prostitution; Actions the City Can Take
Springfield is far from helpless before the problems posed by Capital
Video. The drug use, lewd behavior and prostitution in or around the
shop suggest it can and should be shut down as a public nuisance. We
elaborate on this strategy here.

A parallel action that should be undertaken by the city is to adopt adult-use zoning with an amortization clause (see this general example).
That is, all existing adult uses that do not conform to the new zoning
would be required to move or close within some definite period. The
town of North Reading, MA has one of these clauses:

E. Amortization.

(1) Any adult use which exists in North Reading at the time of the
adoption of this bylaw shall cease and desist all adult use activities
within five years (5) of the effective date of this bylaw.

(2) Adult uses which apply for and are granted a special permit under
the provisions of this bylaw shall be exempt from Subsection E(1)