Money squabble keeps strip club near convent from opening - New York News

Money squabble keeps strip club near convent from opening

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News & Better Government Assoc.) -

The case of the nuns versus the strippers just took a bizarre new turn.

It's been one year since FOX 32 News first broke the story about that giant strip club going in next to a convent in west suburban Stone Park.

It was supposed to be "Get It," a giant, multi-million dollar strip club in Stone Park just feet from a Melrose Park convent, but more than nine months since it was supposed to open, it sits empty.

The sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo say it's a sign from God, but FOX 32 and the Better Government Association have learned it's more likely a battle over the almighty dollar.

"Fortunately it hasn't opened and there appears to be a big fight of the leadership and the ownership of the facility," says attorney Peter Breen.

That fight has made its way to court and FOX 32 has obtained a copy of a lawsuit detailing a rift between the club's owners.

A group called "Stone Lake Partners," which owned 70 percent of the club, is suing Bob Itzkow, who owns the rest of it.

The suit alleges the club "ran out of funds", and "debts are now owed to numerous contractors some of whom have filed liens against the property." It says "the opening of the club is in jeopardy."

To raise cash, the plaintiffs sold a controlling interest to an international company called Spearmint Rhino, which owns strip clubs all over the world.

The suit alleges Itzkow tried to "extort" the new owners, and hired a professional mixed martial arts fighter to stop them from coming on the property.

Attorney Peter Breen represents the convent.

"[The nuns] are very happy that the facility isn't open," Breen says. "At the same time, we'd like some certainty that the facility won't ever open."

Jose Suarez is running for mayor of Stone Park, which is now 88 percent Latino. Suarez says the fight over this club woke up a political sleeping giant.

"A lot of people are intimidated, but a lot of people are not buying it anymore. They're willing to make a stand," Suarez says.

Incumbent Mayor Ben Mazzulla once again refused to talk to us for this story.

Suarez says Mazzulla is probably hoping talk about the strip club will go away until after the election.

"We're less than two months away from the election, so if it isn't heard, it isn't thought of," Suarez says. "I'm very sure that they're waiting. Our strategy is every door that we knock on, we're letting them know. They can't forget this."

It seems they haven't.

Stone Park is just one-third of a square mile, and based on yard signs, it seems nearly every last home and business has taken a stand in the election.

"There's been a lot of corruption over the years there, they've had problems there," Robert Herguth of the BGA explains. "So that the citizens of the community are getting involved in the electoral process, the democratic process I think is a good thing."

Peter Breen from the Thomas More Society says he has papers ready to file right away to stop the club from opening, but so far, he hasn't had to take the case to court.

The club's owners have done that for him.

After this story was reported, FOX 32 was contacted by lawyers for both sides in the lawsuit between owners of the strip club. They say their lawsuit has been resolved and will be dismissed from court next week.

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