I-Team: Probe into NYC exotic dancer scam has Las Vegas ties

LAS VEGAS -- A stripper from New York, charged with drugging customers and putting bogus charges on their credit cards, has obtained a work card as an entertainer in Las Vegas.

As it turns out, the I-Team has uncovered several Las Vegas links to the criminal case in New York involving exotic dancers and alleged credit card fraud. Three of the four women charged in New York either had -- or have -- permits to work in Las Vegas. That includes the alleged ringleader, who got her work permit in Las Vegas in July, while under indictment in New York city.

The New York case has brought new attention to the topless entertainment industry and it's a case that turns the tables on the use of what are commonly called "date rape" drugs.

It was big news in the Big Apple just a few months ago when four exotic dancers were busted -- as part of a ring that trolled upscale bars in New York city -- looking for wealthy men.

"Traditionally, you'd warn women or young girls to be careful who you talk to in bars and be careful of somebody putting something in your drink, slip you a mickey, so to speak, but in this case, it's the opposite," said James Hunt, a DEA agent in New York.

It was the men whose drinks were allegedly "dosed" with party drugs like "molly" and ketamine. Police say it was not to violate the men sexually, but to take advantage of them financially. Some alleged victims say they have no memory of even going to a strip club.

"It is conceivable that if somebody had an inkling of motivation and then you suppressed their inhibitions, the next thing you know they're somewhere they didn't intend to go, doing things they didn't intend to do, and don't have a recollection of it," said Dr. Mel Pohl, a drug expert.

Dr. Pohl is not commenting about any specific case, but he says the scenario painted by New York investigators is plausible based on the effects of some date rape drugs which can lessen inhibitions while inhibiting memory. In addition, the drugs are not easy to detect after the fact.

"Probably by the next day, they would be gone. Reliable evidence of these drugs would be gone in about 24 hours," Dr. Pohl said.

A lawyer for at least one of the women charged in New York has suggested the alleged victims in this case are suffering "buyers remorse" and were not drugged. However, police used an undercover officer in this investigation and his testimony could give the victim's claims a significant dose of credibility.

The I-Team has learned at least three of the four dancers accused in the New York case have Las Vegas connections. That includes the woman named by investigators as the ringleader -- Samantha Barbash.

Records obtained by the I-Team show the 40-year old Barbash was arrested in New York June 11, but obtained a work permit as an "entertainer" in Clark County on July 21, less than six weeks later.

Another New York defendant, 29-year-old Roselyn Keo, had a work permit as an entertainer in Clark County from Oct. 2002 until Oct. 2007.  A third erotic dancer, arrested in the plot, Marsi Nicole Rosen, is a former Las Vegas resident. She had a Nevada business license from July 2011 to July 2012. County voting records show she cast a ballot as far back as Nov. 2008.

It is unknown if the women worked in any local lounges.

The topless bars in New York were not named as defendants in the indictment, although a former manager at one of them was arrested in the probe.

A drug enforcement spokesperson in New York told the I-Team her agency has been in contact with Las Vegas Metro Police, but she stopped short of saying the New York investigation is related to a Metro probe that surfaced in June.

Metro detectives served search warrants at Club Paradise topless lounge. They were looking for evidence of alleged credit card fraud and possible use of party drugs. No drugs were found and, so far, no arrests have been made. Lawyers for Club Paradise say police assured them the local investigation is focused on three former employees, two dancers who were independent contractors and a floor man. The management and ownership of the club are not suspected of wrongdoing. The lawyers say the New York suspects never worked at Club Paradise.



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