Wiretaps Exposed in Colacurcio Case

Federal prosecutors are seeking sanctions against one of the defendants in the civil and criminal racketeering and prostitution cases against Seattle stripper king Frank Colacurcio for temporarily releasing secret wiretap information the court had sealed from public view, according to recently filed U.S. court documents. The wiretap information was quickly sealed and apparently went unseen by others. But the accused defendant, Leroy Christiansen, a Colacurcio business partner, says the protective order applies only to the civil case, not the criminal indictment against him and Colacurcio and their partners. He is seeking to have the wiretap details revealed.

Passages from the taps at Colacurcio's clubs, office and home were contained in a court brief Christiansen filed in U.S. District Court here and in an appeals brief with the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco late last month (he's asking the appeals court to lift the district court's ban preventing him from working at the clubs). Christiansen's attorneys said the first exposure of the sealed taps was unintentional and agreed to seal that filing; they reluctantly also belatedly sealed the appeals filing, but argue the exposure was proper.

The protective order applies to the 2008 civil case against Colacurcio and his partners in which the U.S. is seeking to seize their dance club properties for violating federal laws. A separate 2009 criminal case accuses the partners of racketeering and conspiracy at the clubs. The wiretaps are evidence in both cases, but only the civil case contains an order preventing their public release. Christiansen contends the situation makes the sealing order "unworkable" and says prosecutors have quoted from the tap transcripts in open court, voiding the order. The issue is likely to be argued soon in court, but no date has been set.

Court files also show the U.S. has begun turning over discovery material to Colacurcio and the others. The listed stash includes 275 boxes of confiscated records and material, items seized from trash cans, telephone and computer records, video footage from telephone pole cameras taken outside Rick's nudie club in Lake City and hidden video from inside the club.

The feds numerated the evidence thusly: One searchable CD containing over 89,300 pages of documentary materials, eight CDs containing 15,989 pages of dancer's records from Rick's, a CD containing a 2,461-page database of telephone and pen register (number-tracing) records, 21 CDs and DVDs containing audio and video files and photographs and three CDs and a 1.5 terabyte hard drive containing evidence from Colacurcio's computers. That's a lot of heavy viewing, prompting the court to recently extend the criminal trial start date to January 10, 2011.

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