The mysterious owners of the Las Vegas–based Cheetahs strip joint in Kearny Mesa have opened a new legal front in federal court against San Diego police, claiming that raids by the cops have been illegally disrupting their business and caused performance anxiety among the strippers. But to whom do taxpayers write the check if the club wins its case?
“Vice officers made the entertainers queue up in two separate lines over a prolonged period depriving them of their liberty, time to perform, to submit to lengthy questioning including questions about tattoos, body piercings, and personal matters including their social security numbers,” says the April 7 complaint by Red Eyed Jack’s Sports Bar, Inc., the Nevada corporation that runs the infamous nude-entertainment emporium.
But who owns Red Eyed Jack’s? Back in May of 2003, when the FBI raided city-council offices, a Las Vegas native named Mike Galardi ostensibly controlled Cheetahs, then at the heart of what became the most sensational bribery scandal in San Diego history. He copped a plea in the case, testified against the city-council defendants, did two years in federal prison, and dropped out of sight. Galardi “was tied into organized crime,” FBI agent Leonard Davey, in charge of the investigation, recently told U-T San Diego in a post-retirement interview.
Galardi’s father Jack founded the family’s stripping enterprise after humble beginnings in the hardscrabble Colorado coal-mining town of Trinidad. Before starting a prosperous chain of nude nightclubs in the South and later moving into Vegas, Jack and his brother Angel had been convicted and imprisoned for breaking into California post offices to steal blank money orders. Later, Las Vegas police linked Jack and his operation to the Gambino crime family, an allegation his lawyers denied. Son Mike’s name began to appear on permit records. Then, in 2004, after the Cheetahs case broke, Jack sued Mike, claiming his son embezzled $530,000 from the family’s Las Vegas branch of Cheetahs to finance Jaguars, his own $15 million club in Vegas. Jack Galardi died on his sprawling Circle G Ranch in Georgia in December 2012 at age 81, according to an obituary in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Nevada records have it that South Carolina–based attorney Suzanne Coe, who long represented Jack Galardi and his various enterprises, is president of Red Eyed Jack’s. Reached by phone in the fall of 2006, she told us that she personally owned 5 percent of the corporation and intended to acquire the remaining interest from the senior Galardi. A San Diego attorney for Red Eyed Jack’s said he would forward a message to her, but a callback did not materialize.