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Nuisance board orders changes for Tampa strip club

Published:   |   Updated: December 3, 2013 at 04:49 PM

TAMPA — City officials placed Flash Dancers, a crime-plagued West Tampa strip club, on probation for the next year in an attempt to clean up the criminal activity that prompted the city to declare the club a public nuisance.

Under the deal signed Tuesday, club owner Richard Bavota and landlords Antonio and Candy Serrano must meet a long list of requirements to avoid another trip to the Nuisance Abatement Board and potentially further fines and restrictions.

Flash Dancers is at 4202 W. Cayuga St. in the Drew Park neighborhood.

Among other things, the deal with the city requires Flash Dancers to:

  • *Install 24-hour video surveillance the club inside and outside under the guidance of police. Bathrooms are exempt.

  • *Use wand-type metal detectors to inspect clients as they enter the club in an effort to keep guns, knives and other weapons out.

  • *Dismantle a VIP room that had become a place for lewd and illegal activities.

  • *Hire uniformed security guards from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

  • *Ban known gang members from the club and block dancers from soliciting drinks or sex from patrons.

The owners have until Dec. 10 to make most of the changes. They have until Dec. 31 to have the cameras in place.

“Money will not be a consideration,” said Luke Lirot, attorney for club owner Bavota. “We will in good faith do all we can to comply.”

The owners also have until March 1 to pay $5,070 in fees and costs and $1,300 in fines related to the Tampa Police Department’s five-year investigation of drug-dealing, prostitution and gang activity at the club between 2008 and this spring.

Bavota owns three other clubs in Tampa -- Crazy Horse, Dream and Glo Ultra Lounge. He said Flash Dancers, which he took over in 2007, has been his most problematic club.

Flash Dancers was the site of shootings in 2011 and 2012. In the first one, a security worker shot and injured a patron at closing time after the two got into an argument and the patron threw a bottle.

The second shooting happened between two patrons in the parking lot of the club after closing. One man died.

Two days later, Police Chief Jane Castor sent Barvota a letter telling him to clean up the business or face penalties from the city.

TPD spokeswoman Laura McElroy said the restrictions were about making sure Flash Dancers’ visitors were safe.

“As long as the agreed-upon stipulations are implemented, we feel they will ensure a much safer environment,” McElroy said.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Bavota said he welcomed the restrictions.

“It’s definitely going to help,” he said.

Lirot said the situation at the club has improved in recent months as police have rooted out gang activity in the Drew Park neighborhood.

For their part, the Serranos told the city they would make the list of restrictions a part of their lease with Bavota. They assured the city they would be more attentive landlords and show less tolerance for the kind of behavior that landed them and Bavota under the city’s supervision for a year.

Under the deal with the city, Flash Dancers could be fine up to $500 per incident if it backslides on its efforts to keep criminal activity outside.

The Serranos assured the city there’ll be more than a fine to pay if that happens.

“The next thing that will happen is an eviction,” attorney Smith said. “And there’ll be a new tenant in there.”

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Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO