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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

Sex-Slave Trade Flourishes under
Sin City Mayor Oscar Goodman
There's no prostitution taking place, and if there was, they should arrest them, not
make some big fuss as to what some 18-year-old girl is doing to make a living.
- Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas SUN, August 2, 2002

While I was employed at the Crazy Horse Too, the 'dancers' engaged in an activity
called a 'friction dance' wherein the male customer puts on a condom and the dancer
straddles the customer and manipulates her body against the male customer so as to
arose or gratify the sexual desire of the male customer. - affidavit of Sandra Kelemen

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 20, 2003

Since former mob lawyer Oscar Goodman was elected Mayor of Las Vegas in 1999, a troubling new enterprise has emerged within the city limits: the sexual exploitation of teenage girls. All of the businesses represented above are located in the City of Las Vegas and are under the direct control of the city council as the licensing agency.

The exploitation of young Asian women goes on inside recently opened massage parlors. Exploitation also occurs to teenage strippers in the back rooms of a few topless joints. A shocking article just published in the Las Vegas SUN tells how young Asian girls are being used as sex slaves in the local massage business. However, some Sin City strip joints have also flourished at the expense of adolescent girls, some still in high school, who are forced by management to perform lap dances on customers in private rooms. While the problem grows in his city, Mayor Goodman makes light of the subject.

Right now, I'm going to urge all able-bodied constituents to go out and have a lap dance. - Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas Review Journal, November 18, 2001

Clark County, the jurisdiction that controls half the Las Vegas valley, is at odds with Goodman over teenage strippers and touching laws. The county commission has also made it much harder for massage parlors to be licensed. For that reason, some adult businesses that are located just over the city/county line are being encouraged by Goodman to annex into the city so they can operate with relative impunity.

I have been told that many of the activities that Jaguars wishes that its dancers and patrons could engage in are not permitted under the Clark County code. These activities, however, are permitted under the Las Vegas city code. - Mayor Goodman, Las Vegas SUN, November 29, 2002

One of the businesses Goodman wants to annex into the city is owned by Michael Galardi who on September 9, 2003 pleaded guilty to paying off three San Diego city councilmen to relax the coastal city's physical contact laws, and to paying off a police officer for warning when undercover agents were about to visit his Cheetah's club there. San Diego has some of the strictest no-touch laws in the nation and Galardi said it was hurting his topless bar business.

Since he admitted committing a felony, Clark County officials are demanding that Galardi sell his two county based clubs, Jaguars and the Leopard Lounge, or lose his business licenses. Goodman on the other hand has not made his feelings known causing speculation he may allow Galardi to remain in the adult business if he agrees to annex Jaguars into the city and let a family member run the club while he serves time in federal prison.

Any business that wants to move over here, I welcome with open arms, and the one (Jaguars) that just spent $15 million on their property, I welcome them with wide open arms. - Mayor Goodman, Las Vegas SUN, August 7, 2002

In addition to condoning the exploitation of teenage strippers, Goodman has been very nonchalant about the takeover of certain adult businesses by organized crime. Casinos were once the stronghold of the Goodfellas, but today's massage parlors and one city strip club may have taken their place with what appears to be the Mayor's tacit approval.

To prove the point, Goodman has not been critical of the city-based Crazy Horse Too topless bar that employs a number of ex-felons, is the target of an FBI political corruption probe, and is being sued for the attempted murder of a patron. Remember, it was Goodman who once said he'd rather have his daughter date Chicago mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro than an FBI agent. Therefore, its easy to believe that Goodman will be happy to annex Galardi's business into the city and re-license him when he gets out of prison.
   Goodman and Tony Spilotro                     Las Vegas SUN cartoon by Mike Smith                                         Oscar and Joey Cusumano

Though the Goodfellas that run the massage parlors don't have vowels at the end of their names, they are cut from the same cloth as many of Goodman's former clients including several who are associated with the Crazy Horse Too. The Mayor's acceptance of "anything goes" in his city has begun to trouble long time residents, especially those who live in the mature neighborhoods along Sahara Avenue where most of the massage parlors and strip joints are locating. These areas are experiencing increasing crime statistics and stagnate property values while the sex trade takes advantage of the area's close proximity to the Strip.

The Mayor rationalizes the problem in statements he made to the press.

We're an adult community, an adult playland, let's not pretend to be something we're not. I think anything that's legal should be here. - Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas SUN, August 2, 2002

Since Goodman made that statement, he has voted along with his council to license additional massage parlors, and has fought the county in their quest to stop teenagers from working the back rooms of strip joints.

The spread of sex-slave businesses inspired investigative reporter Timothy Pratt of the Las Vegas SUN to author the following article. I hope Mayor Goodman takes time to read it before more young lives are ruined.

Copyright © Steve Miller
LV alters tactics in fighting sex-slave trade
Authorities hope to help victims, go after traffickers

By Timothy Pratt
Las Vegas SUN
October 13, 2003

Metro Police Sgt. Gilbert Shannon says he can always tell by the fear in their eyes.

He sees them on his unit's raids of massage parlors, where he finds up to 20 of them living out of their suitcases in a single room.

The vice squad he works in made more than 4,000 arrests for prostitution in the fiscal year ending in July, and a growing number of the young women arrested were brought to the United States against their will and forced into prostitution under a modern form of slavery, he said.

"I can see they're afraid ... almost all of them don't speak any English ... How are they going to get out of there?" Shannon said.

Most of the time, they don't. They get charged with a misdemeanor, then put on probation or fined in court and are soon back in the massage parlors, where they are forced to work and live.

The sergeant's investigative unit of seven runs across these cases weekly. And though Metro has no way of keeping track of women in prostitution who were trafficked from abroad, Shannon said there are dozens of so-called sex slaves trapped in the Las Vegas Valley, and that the numbers are growing.

Nationally an estimated 20,000 people are trafficked into the country every year, and up to 900,000 are trafficked worldwide, according to the U.S. State Department.

It's natural that some of them land in Las Vegas, Shannon said. "We have such a large prostitution-related industry ... it's a supply and demand factor ... (and) traffickers look to this city to meet the demand," he said.

Until recently, authorities had no way to help these women out of their situation and little luck getting at the traffickers themselves.

"It's a very sad and unfortunate situation. ... We're not interested in going after them but after the people who are trafficking them," Shannon said.

Now a federal law passed in 2000 allows women who can show they were trafficked into the country for sex or other reasons to become residents and then citizens. It provides them the paperwork they need to obtain legal jobs and social services and offers them protection from trafficking rings. The new law also increases penalties against traffickers, including maximum sentences of 20 instead of 10 years.

But few people know about the law. That's one of the reasons it was the subject of a workshop held recently at the Boyd Law School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Participants included Shannon and about a dozen of his colleagues, as well as representatives of nonprofits from across the valley who have run across some of these women after they have escaped.

Sheila K. Neville, attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, told the auditorium how traffickers offer jobs such as housecleaning to their victims and pay for their trips and visas. When the women arrive, they are forced into prostitution. The traffickers threaten them and their families back home if they attempt to escape.

Only 200 visas have been processed for women who were victims of trafficking since the law was passed, though the cap is 5,000, Neville said. The problem, she said, is that the word is still getting out.

Locally, Shannon said, he has seen women whom he suspects of being victims of trafficking rings in Asian massage parlors across the valley.

"You can tell they're living there ... they have all their worldly belongings and no passport, no money," he said.

They don't speak much English, either, meaning they probably recently arrived, he said.

Attorney David Thronson, director of the UNLV immigration law clinic, who helped organize the conference, said he is currently helping a woman who was a sex slave obtain a visa through the new federal law.

Thronson wouldn't reveal any of the details of the case -- including the victim's country of origin -- because he said word travels fast in immigrant communities and the woman's family could be in danger back home.

Liliana Loftman, an attorney for Clark County Legal Services, a nonprofit, said she has seen several Asian women who escaped from slavery at her office in recent years.

She said she there are more women who could use help in that situation locally, but she has no way of gaining access to them.

"My guess is that there is a gigantic amount out there, but we can't prove it," Loftman said.

Loftman said it is difficult for her organization to spread information about the law.

"I don't think there's an opportunity for us to go into a massage parlor and give a presentation (on the law)," she said.

Thronson said nonprofits and pro bono attorneys are facing the same obstacles across the valley.

"If the police are seeing these cases every week and we can only point to a handful of cases that are getting assistance, then there's a huge gap," he said.

Metro's vice unit does go into massage parlors, and Shannon hopes to use that access to start informing possible victims. He would like to see Metro put information about the law on a card or flier to distribute. He will also be talking with Metro brass about how to work with federal authorities on trafficking cases.

Neville said some of the biggest trafficking cases nationwide have been cracked because of local law enforcement. One 2001 case involving Metro and federal authorities resulted in five men receiving less than five years each in prison for trafficking women and forcing them into prostitution in Las Vegas.

"(The law) could be one of the tools to get at the big fish, since we have something we can offer," Shannon said.

"If I have you as a victim and you're afraid of me, then you need something from me in order to cooperate with me," he said.

He said the public needs to keep in mind that the many women who are forced into prostitution "are just people ... who become the byproduct of somebody else's greed."

Copyright 2003 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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