North Huntingdon strip club owner fights shutdown order
An 83-year-old businesswoman said on Monday that she did nothing wrong in running her now-padlocked North Huntingdon strip club.
Gloria Brugnoli was in court to fight an effort by Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck to have Gloria's Cantina Lounge on Route 30 permanently shuttered.
Peck contends that criminal activity at the club, which has been a fixture on the western end of the township since 1971 and located next to the Hartford Heights Volunteer Fire Department, warrants it being declared a nuisance bar.
Earlier this month, police charged two of the club's dancers with drug offenses and prostitution and a patron with drug dealing.
“I don't feel I did anything wrong. I'm sure I'm not guilty,” Brugnoli said during a court break. “I don't believe in smoking cigarettes, let alone that funny stuff.”
Brugnoli has not been charged with a crime, although Peck said on Monday that the investigation into activity at Gloria's is ongoing.
Nathan Edward Moore, 34, of Pitcairn and Ashlee Nicole Campbell, 30, of East Pittsburgh were charged with drug possession with intent to deliver; and Selene Amber Vicini, 35, of Rochester, Beaver County, was charged with prostitution.
Their preliminary hearings before District Judge Doug Weimer were canceled on Monday and rescheduled for Dec. 3.
Peck wants Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. to issue a permanent injunction to keep the strip club closed. Judge Gary Caruso temporarily shut the club in early November.
One witness testified Monday that dancers and customers were selling sex and drugs as Brugnoli sat nearby at the bar.
State police Trooper Michael Noel said he and another undercover vice investigator went to Gloria's five times over three months and saw dancers offer to have sex with customers for $60. Noel said he purchased painkillers and cocaine from a customer.
Noel testified that customers would pay $60 for a private session with a dancer in an upstairs room. The dancer and Brugnoli would split the money, he told McCormick.
“One dancer said that anything goes and there are no cameras,” Noel testified.
Brugnoli's lawyer, Dante Bertani, argued that his client reported the drug dealing to North Huntingdon police prior to the arrests this month.
The dancers did not work for Brugnoli but were self-employed and worked only for tips, Bertani said.
The hearing will continue on Dec. 17, when another undercover trooper is scheduled to testify, along with five defense witnesses, including Brugnoli.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.