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Future of North Huntingdon strip club in limbo

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Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Gloria's Cantina, a North Huntingdon strip club padlocked last month after dancers and a patron were arrested on drug and prostitution charges, will remain closed indefinitely after a Westmoreland County judge on Monday stormed out of a hearing on the bar's future.

Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. ended a hearing in which prosecutors are seeking to have the Route 30 club declared a nuisance bar and permanently closed.

During testimony from an undercover state police trooper, the judge became upset with attorney Dante Bertani, who was representing Gloria's.

McCormick suspended the hearing after numerous complaints from Bertani that he allegedly had not received investigatory reports from District Attorney John Peck.

“Sit down and shut up,” McCormick yelled from the bench at Bertani as he and Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers discussed documents in the case.

When Bertani started to argue with the judge, McCormick repeatedly shouted, “I'm done,” stormed off the bench and slammed shut his office door.

Before the abrupt ending, McCormick heard testimony from Trooper Teko Angelicchio, who made five undercover visits to Gloria's between Sept. 5 and Oct. 10.

Angelicchio said dancers solicited him to pay for sex and a patron sold him drugs.

A dancer took Angelicchio to a private upstairs room and attempted to engage him in sexual activity, he testified. Angelicchio said he halted her attempts in the dimly lit room, which was furnished with a couch and a lamp.

Dancers charged $60 for a half-hour of private dealings, according to Angelicchio.

“Every dancer that approached me specifically asked to go up to a private room,” Angelicchio testified.

Peck wants the court to find that criminal activity at the club warrants labeling it a nuisance bar. The bar, which is owned by 83-year-old Gloria Brugnoli, has been a fixture on the western end of the township, next to the Hartford Heights Volunteer Fire Department, since 1971.

State police raided the club on Nov. 8. Brugnoli has not been charged with a crime.

Nathan Edward Moore, 34, of Pitcairn and Ashlee Nicole Campbell, 30, of East Pittsburgh were charged with drug possession with intent to deliver. Moore was a patron at the bar, according to police, while Campbell worked as a dancer.

Selene Amber Vicini, 35, of Rochester, Beaver County, was charged with prostitution.

Investigators have testified that Brugnoli was seated at the bar, just feet away from dancers propositioning patrons and while drug dealing occurred.

Bertani maintains that police have no evidence that Brugnoli did anything wrong and that her club should remain open.

A date to reconvene the hearing has not been set.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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