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Press Release

Desperado's Co-owner, 5 Employees Sentenced For Racketeering Conspiracy And Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

LAFAYETTE, La. –A co-owner and five employees of the now closed Desperado’s Cabaret in Carencro, La., were sentenced for racketeering and drug sales that took place on the premises, U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today.

Dipak Vora, 70, of Baton Rouge, a former co-owner of Desperado’s, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote to 10 months in prison, one year of supervised release and a $10,000 fine for one count of interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering. As part of the plea agreement, Vora agreed to forfeit approximately $514,000 of illegal proceeds and to forfeit the Desperado’s property.  At the sentencing hearing, the Court noted that Vora knew for an extended period of time that Desperado’s promoted prostitution between its employees and customers. 

Foote also sentenced Gerald Cormier, 44, of Carencro, to 29 months in prison and one year of supervised release on his conviction for distribution of cocaine.  Cormier brought cocaine into Desperado’s on a regular basis and redistributed the cocaine to employees and customers.

The following former Desperado’s employees were also sentenced for one count of conspiracy to maintain drug involved premises and distribution of controlled substances:

  • Elias “E.J.” White, 53, of Lafayette, was sentenced to 54 months of probation;
  • Heike Slattery, 42, of Carencro, was sentenced to two years of probation;
  • Crystal Sampy, 32, of Lafayette, was sentenced to three years of probation and a $1,000 fine.
  • Lydia “Unique” Gauthreaux, 32, of Crowley, was sentenced to three years of probation and a $1,000 fine.

Desperado’s primary business owner, James Panos, 56, of Broussard, La., was indicted on May 8, 2013 in a superseding indictment along with his wife Jennifer Panos, 48, and eight other defendants. The indictment alleges racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy, and firearms charges.  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.

James and Jennifer Panos pleaded guilty on April 3, 2014, to a racketeering conspiracy, Count 1 of the Superseding Indictment.  Acquila Shanete Latigue, 28, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty on March 20, 2014; and Tanja Clavier, 29, of Church Point, La., pleaded guilty on May 29, 2014 to one count of conspiracy to maintain drug involved premises and distribution of controlled substances. James and Jennifer Panos, Clavier and Latigue are scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2014. The racketeering conspiracy charge carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of not more than twice the gross profits.

The DEA, FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Louisiana State Police and Lafayette Metro Narcotics investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie is prosecuting the case.

Updated January 26, 2015