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Bust Dunks Club, Sinks Owner

Party's over! Even the signs are gone at Club Aqua, per an agreement struck by county prosecutors with owner Gary Bauer, who shut down the after-hours dance club rather than face charges of "operating a nuisance." While Bauer's lawyer claims he was unaware of drug trafficking in the club, undercover vice cops had no problems finding Ecstasy for sale, buying it on six separate occasions. Police also confiscated heroin and cocaine in the course of making 10 arrests, and are preparing charges against three additional men, including a club employee. Prosecutors put the final nails in the coffin by forcing Bauer to give up the name Aqua and sell off the club's inventory and furnishings. Wonder what he'll get for all the bottled water and Charms Blow Pops.

Last week's indictment of Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Martin Emerich on eight counts of racketeering brings U.S. Attorneys one step closer to their ultimate goal -- nailing Congressman James Traficant. Emerich knew how to wheel and deal, according to the charges, offering to fix a DUI charge against mob boss Lenny Strollo's stepson in exhange for landscaping services done by Strollo lieutenant Lawrence "Jeep" Garano. When Emerich didn't like Garano's work, he repeatedly issued continuances in the case until his yard was landscaped to his satisfaction. Word around the courthouse is that the Feds already have enough evidence to indict Traficant. The only question is when the hammer will drop.

Speaking of clowns in the courtroom, right-wing scam artists Joan Bowman and Richard Lewis had a predictably wacky trial last month, when they were found guilty of trying to rip off $374,000 worth of automobiles from DeLorean Cadillac with a bogus "sight draft." After two days of silence, the pair began interrupting with nonsensical outbursts, prompting Judge Mary Jane Boyle to slap them in a cell, where they followed the proceedings through speakers and a microphone. Evidently Bowman and Lewis liked it there, because they asked to spend the rest of the trial in the clink -- a request Boyle granted. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, but prosecutors want more than jail time. Since the pair had well over $1,000 to spend on nuisance mailings over the past few months, the County also wants to be reimbursed for their court-appointed attorneys. And not with sight drafts.

Intriguing and alarming sights around town: Significant Mayoral Other JoAnn Boscia sitting by herself in the pew at St. Malachi's on Sunday . . . Cleveland Film Society Development Director Dan Wyman nearly choking to death on a rice ball at the Film Festival preview party . . . And the astounding number of politicians who glommed onto the Monday meeting to save St. Michael's Hospital, convened by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who spoke in front of a huge banner bearing his name. A raft of city councilmen and state reps paraded to the microphone, with even the unelected (Marvin McMickle) and ex-elected (Mary Rose Oakar) managing to elbow their way to the podium. The best statement, though, was made by a silent protester who pointed a bony finger at the opportunist buying up all the local hospital beds. Wearing a black hooded cape and carrying a scythe, the Grim Reaper strode silently through the crowd, wearing a sign that read "The Cleveland Clinic."

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