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DESPERADO'S OWNERS AND OTHERS INDICTED ON RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY AND DRUG CHARGES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2013

LAFAYETTE, La. United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Desperado’s Cabaret owner James “Jim” Panos, 55, of Broussard, La., was indicted on May 8, 2013 in a superseding indictment, along with nine others on racketeering conspiracy and drug charges.

James Panos was charged with four counts in the indictment unsealed yesterday.  The charges are the result of an investigation of drug trafficking, drug distribution, prostitution, and other illegal activity that took place at Desperado’s Cabaret in Carencro located on Northeast Evangeline Thruway.  Panos was charged with  racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises and distribution of controlled substances, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

The co-defendants charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy are:

  • Jennifer “Nancy” Panos, 47, of Broussard; and
  • Dipak Vora, 69, of Baton Rouge, La.

The co-defendants charged with one count of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises and distribution of controlled substances are:

  • Jennifer “Nancy” Panos, 47, of Broussard;
  • Elias “E.J.” White, 52, of Lafayette;
  • Heike Slattery, 41, of Carencro;
  • Crystal Sampy, 51, of Lafayette;
  • Acquila Shanete “Sexy” Latigue, 27, of Lafayette;
  • Gerald Cormier, 43, of Carencro;
  • Tanja Clavier, 28, of Lafayette; and
  • Lydia “Unique” Gauthreaux, 31, of Crowley.

The racketeering conspiracy charge carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of not more than twice the gross profits, and three years supervised release.  The conspiracy to maintain a drug involved premises charge carries penalties of up to 20 or 30 years in prison, fines of up to $500,000 to $2 million, and supervised release of three to six years.  James Panos faces five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for the possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number charge.  He also faces 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person charge.  The defendants are scheduled to appear for arraignment on May 29, 2013.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Louisiana State Police and Lafayette Metro Narcotics investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Myers P. Namie and Daniel J. McCoy prosecuted the case.

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