DEA Agents to Judge: Block The Lap Dance Videos
Apr. 14, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — This one can be filed in the “they-finally-went-after-one-of-their-own” bin. Federal prosecutors from New York’s Southern District have indicted two DEA employees for moonlighting as strip club owners and then purportedly lying about it to their bosses. From the New York Times:
It is not often that the government seeks to show a jury a video of lap dances.
But that has happened in a bizarre case in which a former official and a civilian employee of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration are soon to be tried on charges that during national security background checks, they lied about their ownership in a strip club in South Hackensack, N.J.
The defense does not want the government to introduce the video evidence, which it characterizes as “third parties engaged in graphic sexual conduct” and which it says would unduly sway the jury.
Talk about having a side gig. Special Agent David Polos and Greg Glover, a telecommunications specialist, have been charged with conspiracy and making false statements in connection with the forms they submitted to renew their national security clearances. The form, known as Standard Form 86, requires government employees who have a national security clearance to disclose, amongst other things: (i) whether they have engaged in employment outside the DEA, and (ii) whether they have had “close and/or continuing contact with foreign nationals within the last 7 years.”
The government alleges that Polos and Glover conspired to conceal their ownership of the New Jersey strip joint, “Twins Go-Go Lounge,” and that Polos also failed to disclose an “intimate relationship” with one of its foreign dancers that lasted for months. Since strip joints are (justifiably or not) generally perceived as places of ill repute, it is obvious why the defense wants this kept from the jury. As the government said:
“Put simply, the outside business in which Polos and Glover chose to be involved was not a benign enterprise that might have been looked upon favorably” by top government officials, the prosecutors, Martin S. Bell and Andrew D. Goldstein, wrote.
“Rather, as Polos and Glover knew, significant illegal activity took place at the club that if discovered could have led to serious adverse consequences for the defendants,” like losing their security clearances or even their jobs, the prosecutors added.
If the video is allowed in, it will help the government prove that Polos and Glove had the requisite state of mind and motive to conceal their work at the strip joint from the DEA, considering what supposedly took place while they were present: prostitution, drug use, employment of illegal immigrants, and running the club during “DEA business hours.” More importantly, the jurors would be shocked and upset (and maybe a bit jealous?) to see two federal employees taking part in such debauchery during working hours.
But the defense has a good argument to preclude the video’s admission: its contents have little or no probative value, while it is highly prejudicial to Polos and Glove, it was surreptitiously recorded three years after they filed for national security clearance, and the lap dances involve third parties and not them.
Of course, a case like this cannot be devoid of irony. Part of their trial strategy involves demonstrating that their proprietorship was an “open secret” at the DEA (and that their colleagues went there often) to show that they never tried to conceal their second job from the DEA. But, there is a catch:
Defense lawyers have indicated that they may call agency employees to testify that the men’s ownership in the club was an open secret at the D.E.A., and that members of law enforcement even frequented the lounge. But the defense contends that the government is intentionally trying to hamper that strategy.
Defense lawyers have objected to a federal regulation that requires them to obtain the agency’s approval before an employee can testify. The rule is designed to ensure such witnesses do not reveal classified or other sensitive information, prosecutors have said in court papers.
That federal regulation forbids a DEA employee’s testimony without the agency’s prior approval, and the U.S. Attorney’s Manual confirms that the DEA receives “unique treatment with respect to authorizing testimony.”
So, the DEA will likely forbid its employees from coming forward to testify that they were frequenting a strip club that they knew was run by their brethren, who are now facing federal indictment involving sordid stuff that most wives and girlfriends would frown upon. At least that would give Polos’ and Gloves’ former co-workers the perfect way out from testifying for the defense, and it will obviate the need for federal agents to knock on their doors and politely remind them that they may be under investigation, and that they may be charged with perjury and/or obstruction should they not testify “truthfully.”
As for the video, who knows? If it’s let in by the Judge, it may look something like this. Or not …
Then again, this may not be the worst episode involving DEA employees. It’s not like Polos and Glove have been implicated in having sex parties with Colombian hookers, arranging prostitutes for Secret Service members, unjustly seizing cash without warrants, lying about severely beating up suspects and snorting cocaine on the job, or egregious mishandling of seized contraband.