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Sex, sports and the mob: The Gold Club trial

club
The Gold Club is one of Atlanta's most prominent strip clubs.  


ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Atlanta's Gold Club is one of the city's most prominent strip clubs, bringing in millions of dollars a year and attracting athletes, celebrities and other wealthy patrons.

Federal prosecutors allege that the club is also a front for prostitution, credit card fraud, money laundering and other crimes. In a sweeping racketeering indictment that reads like a crime novel, authorities allege that club owner Steve Kaplan and his associates had ties to the Gambino crime family.

Kaplan, along with a former dancer at the club and five others, is on trial at the federal courthouse in Atlanta.

Former club manager Thomas "Ziggy" Sicignano, one of the prosecution's star witnesses, testified that he arranged for dancers to have sex with a number of high-profile athletes, including former New York Knicks' basketball player John Starks.

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The case has focused on allegations that Kaplan and trusted employees paid club dancers to have sex with athletes and other celebrities to raise the club's profile.

Prosecutors have said Terrell Davis of the NFL's Denver Broncos, Jamal Anderson of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Patrick Ewing of the NBA's New York Knicks will testify. In addition, at least two other basketball stars, Dikembe Mutombo of the Philadelphia 76ers and former NBA player Dennis Rodman, have been subpoenaed.

An attorney for Starks told CNN that Starks, if called to testify, would confirm he had sex with Gold Club strippers "a long time ago" before he "re-dedicated his life to Christ."

Sicignano cut a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting to a felony charge of failing to turn over information to the government about a crime in exchange for his testimony.

He testified Kaplan arranged for dancers to have sex with the players in private rooms at club, in the players' hotel rooms and even sent dancers to the Knicks' 1997 training camp in South Carolina to meet with players.

Toronto Raptors star Antonio Davis was also named in the testimony. He called the allegations against him "malicious lies" and has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Sicignano.

The defense argues that Sicignano was responsible for any prostitution that may have gone on in the club.

Steve Sadow, Kaplan's attorney, told jurors in his opening statement that the case was built on "lies and prejudice" from witnesses "bought and paid for" by the government. He called Kaplan a "legitimate, hard-working businessman."

Sicignano
Former club mana