Strip club appealing order to close

November 30, 1990|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff

The attorney for the Baltimore County striptease club Body Talk says he will file an appeal today of a District Court judge's ruling ordering the establishment to close.

Karl H. Goodman, attorney for Body Talk owner Dominic Stenti, predicted last night the Rockdale club would reopen tonight after he files the appeal in county Circuit Court.

The club, in the 8100 block of Liberty Road, was not open last night .

District Court Judge Kathleen M. Sweeney fined Stenti $33,000 yesterday and gave him a suspended 90-day sentence and two years of supervised probation. He has until Feb. 1 to pay the fines.

Stenti was found guilty of operating Body Talk illegally because he did not get the permit needed to change the business from a pool hall to a striptease club.

Sweeney told Stenti that if he reopens the club he will do so at his own risk. Sweeney said she would not hesitate to impose the 90-day jail sentence if Stenti violates his probation and continues to run the business without the proper county approval.

Sweeney said that while Stenti is on probation he may not operate any establishment in the state unless it is in compliance with building-code and zoning regulations.

Rockdale residents may finally be seeing the last of the Girls of Body Talk.

Neighbors began protesting outside the club in May when Stenti took over and changed the place from Al's Billiards to Body Talk.

Patrons of Body Talk were charged $10 to enter the establishment, where they could enjoy snacks and soft drinks and watch young women strip to nothing, or virtually nothing, according to testimony during a trial last summer.

While the club provided no alcohol, which allowed it to escape regulation by the county Liquor Board, and, therefore, employ striptease dancers, it did allow patrons to bring in their own alcohol.

Area residents complained that some patrons leaving Body Talk would litter and urinate on the lawns of the nearby homes.

Stenti and his two corporations were fined $6,000 each for violating zoning laws, and $5,000 apiece for violating building code laws.

Michelle Lee Higgs, a former partner in Body Talk, was found not guilty of the building-code violations but was fined $2,100 for zoning violations. Higgs, who was not present during court proceedings, has moved to New York, Goodman said.

The building's owners, Alfred and Caroline Bucci, also were found not guilty of the building code violations but were fined $900 for zoning violations.

County attorneys Nancy West and Timothy Kotroco had argued that Stenti unlawfully changed the former pool hall to a nightclub without getting the proper permits. Stenti said the use of the building had not changed.

This is the second time Stenti has been found guilty and fined for building-code violations. A Catonsville District Court judge imposed a fine of $8,000 on Stenti in July. The conviction is now under appeal.

After Stenti was convicted of building-code violations last summer, he closed down Body Talk for a few days and then reopened with five pool tables set up inside.

Stenti told the judge that the pool tables always were to be a part of the club. "There wasn't any problem with what I was doing until some political pressure was issued," he said.

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