By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Police again surrounded Porky's in the early hours of May 9, 2009. They arrested 18 suspects, including Galeota, several strippers, and most employees. But all the cops found were five grams of weed, a bottle of Viagra, and some mysterious yellow pills. Galeota was hit with felony drug and prostitution charges.
Again, the charges were dropped. Galeota says the police had already gotten what they wanted: Porky's demise. Prosecutors say police never filed the necessary paperwork. This time, the feds took over the strip club before selling it to new owners, with one requirement: Neither Galeota nor anyone else from the old club could ever work there again.
Twice, American authorities had investigated Galeota. And twice they had given up. But the hassle had taken its toll on him.
If only there were a place where prostitution was legal, he thought, a city full of beautiful women like Miami, but no rules.
Santiago de Cali shone in the syrupy South American sunlight filling Colombia's Cauca River Valley. Through the airplane window, Tony Galeota could see the city's colonial churches glow like polished gold. But his mind was on another kind of riches.
It was February 2011, and he was preparing to open the Doll House, his own strip club in Panama. He'd already invested in seven apartments in Panama City and rented a storefront on the capital's seediest street, where prostitution was legal. All he needed now were the prostitutes.
He met with mobsters in Cali mansions full of women, and he knocked on random doors in search of dancers. Eventually, he moved two dozen ladies to Panama City. The Doll House couldn't expand fast enough to meet the influx of sex tourists.
But Galeota's plan would soon go catastrophically wrong. His government protection would evaporate, the Doll House would be raided, his investments would be stolen, and he would be arrested.
"When you go to prison, it's like dying, but you get to see your own funeral," Galeota says. "You see who wants to fuck your wife, who wants to rob you, and who your real friends are."
His Doll House dream began at Porky's. When Bill Seidle died, Galeota knew the club's days were numbered. Prostitution in Miami had become too risky, he decided, but overseas sex tourism was soaring. A friend suggested Panama.
"We went there and we couldn't believe what we saw," says Josh Weiss, a former DJ at Porky's and one of Galeota's closest friends. "It was cheaper than Costa Rica, and the women were gorgeous... So we met with a realtor, got high, and Tony got stupid with money. He bought seven properties pretty much sight unseen."
Galeota tried going straight, opening a coffee shop in downtown Panama City. But it bored him. "It was so slow I couldn't take it," he says.
He sold the shop and in 2010 opened Bongos, a restaurant serving wings and beer. Business was better, but it still wouldn't make him rich. Then an old friend showed up.
It had been ten years since U.S. Marshals deported Ludwig Fainberg from Miami. Somewhere between his native Ukraine, Israel, and Russia, he'd shed his trademark long hair and changed his name to Alon Bar. When he heard that his old partner in crime from Porky's had moved to Panama, he flew in to meet with Galeota.
But Fainberg wasn't in town to catch up. He knew that the owners of a local strip club called Moulin Rouge — David Fridman and Jake Lita (an Israeli wanted by German police on human-trafficking charges) — had a business offer for the duo. They'd use their connections with immigration officials to obtain visas and prostitution licenses and then give Tarzan and Tony 40 percent of the profits to run a new club, called the Doll House.
Galeota jumped at the deal. He decked out the Doll House with five upstairs rooms equipped with king-size beds, mirrors, lube, condoms, and showers, and brought in dozens of Colombian women, who could earn $120 — split with the club — for an hour of sex. Within weeks of its April 2011 opening, the club was raking in $6,000 on good nights.
Panama became Galeota's personal paradise. Between the restaurant and the Doll House, he was making enough to retire in five years. While Kristy was still in the States, he lived with five of his Colombian prostitutes. "If you like to eat chocolate and you live in a chocolate factory, you're going to eat chocolate," he says.
When Kristy and their three sons finally arrived in June, the business became a family affair: His wife took over at Bongos, while Galeota concentrated on turning the club into a cash machine.
The domestic bliss lasted only a couple of weeks. On June 19, 2011, Tony and his oldest son, 15-year-old Anthony Jr., had just sat down to eat wings in the Doll House office around 11 p.m. when the gold-painted doors burst open. A dozen plainclothes cops poured in with pistols drawn.
Panamanian police had been casing the Doll House, Moulin Rouge, and another joint, called Havana Club, for weeks. Cops had made several controlled buys of drugs. During the Doll House raid, they found marked bills in the register and several grams of pot on a promoter.