Seattle strip club boss Frank Colacurcio Sr., longtime scourge of law enforcement, dies at 93

Friday, July 2, 2010

Seattle strip club boss Colacurcio Sr. dies at 93

SEATTLE — Frank Colacurcio Sr., Seattle’s elderly strip club boss and notorious organized crime figure, died Friday at age 93.

His attorney, Irwin Schwartz, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, which had been prosecuting him in a racketeering conspiracy arising from rampant prostitution at his four Seattle-area strip clubs, confirmed the death.

Colacurcio was indicted last year along with his son, Frank Jr., and several associates. All except Frank Sr. reached plea deals with the government — resulting in his four remaining clubs being shut down or forfeited to the government. His son agreed last week to spend a year in prison and turn over $1.3 million.

No cause of death was immediately given, but Colacurcio Sr.’s poor health from congestive heart failure had slowed the government’s efforts to prosecute him. His family did not immediately issue a statement Friday.

“It is the end of an era, hopefully one that won’t be repeated,” former Seattle U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said Friday.

The son of a King County farmer, Colacurcio made a name for himself with pinball machines in the 1950s, muscled his way into the jukebox and cigarette vending machine business, and built a topless and strip club empire extending to 10 Western states. In 1984, the FBI hosted a two-day conference on him that was attended by investigators from 12 states.

He was identified as a racketeer in hearings before a U.S. Senate organized crime committee in 1957 and has periodically served time for racketeering and tax convictions.

But he remained a bane of investigators who suspected him of involvement of several contract-style murders. Colacurcio was never charged in those cases, and he dismissed the implications, once telling The Seattle Times, “They have been investigating me since the time I was born.”

In 2003, an attempt to expand a parking lot at his biggest strip club backfired in a campaign contribution scandal that cost two Seattle City Council members their seats. That case prompted a wider inquiry — one the Seattle Police Department described as it’s largest-ever organized crime investigation. Over the next four years, investigators infiltrated Colacurcio’s strip clubs as customers and employees and secreted surveillance cameras in the clubs.

The resulting federal indictment included graphic details of prostitution. The clubs made much of their money by installing ATMs that charged 10 percent fees for transactions, court documents said, and as late as 2007, Colacurcio continued to pay his dancers as much as $1,000 for sex.

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