NEW YORK - A crew of New York City strippers scammed wealthy men by spiking their drinks with illegal synthetic drugs, then driving them to strip clubs that ran up tens of thousands of dollars on their credit cards while they were too wasted to stop it, authorities said Wednesday.
None of the victims - a New Jersey doctor, a banker, a hedge fund executive and a real estate attorney who lost at least $200,000 combined - was named in court papers. But a lawyer for Dr. Zyad Younan, a cardiologist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., identified his client as one of the victims.
Drug Enforcement Administration and New York Police Department investigators arrested four women - all described as professional strippers - earlier this week on charges including grand larceny, assault and forgery, according to authorities. A strip club manager surrendered Wednesday.
CBS New York reports that on Monday, agents and officers arrested four female adult entertainers. They were identified as Samatha Barbash, Roselyn Keo, Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen. Carmine Vitolo, a manager at Roadhouse NYC Gentleman's Club in Flushing, Queens, was arrested Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday, Vitolo and one of the four women pleaded not guilty to all charges in state court in Manhattan, according to the station. The other three women, including suspected ringleader Barbash, appared in court Tuesday.
"[Vitolo] was shocked at the charges, he has no criminal record," the club manager's attorney, Brian Packett, told CBS New York. "He looks forward to fighting."
Barbash's attorney, Stephen Murphy, said Wednesday that his client also denies the charges. He declined to comment further.
The roundup followed an undercover investigation that found that the women joined in a scheme to rip off the men by drugging them with the stimulant methylone, commonly known as "molly," and the tranquilizer ketamine after arranging to meet them at upscale bars in New York and Long Island, authorities said. The impaired victims were driven to Scores in Manhattan and the RoadHouse in Queens, where they were charged for private rooms, expensive meals, drinks and other services, they said.
The clubs paid the women for the visits, but the establishments were not facing criminal charges, authorities said.
The men reported waking up in their cars or in hotel rooms with little or no memory of the encounters. Those who tried to dispute the strip club bills received texts from the strippers threatening to go public with their transgressions, authorities said.
"The defendants were banking on the victims being too afraid to contact the police, but as the indictment and arrests show, they made a serious miscalculation," Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said.
Last month, Scores sued Younan, saying he owed the club $135,303 for unpaid services. According to the lawsuit, the doctor disputed the charges by saying "he was drugged by plaintiff's employees and thus did not authorize the charges," a claim the club says is contradicted by security video showing him freely showing up there on four separate occasions.
The arrests exposed how "my client was preyed upon by this ring and not responsible for charges to his credit card," Younan's attorney, Michael Weinstein, said Wednesday.
There was no immediate response to phone messages left Wednesday at Scores and the RoadHouse.