Galardi lawsuit jogs memories of bribery scandal’s characters

Some news stories never seem to end.

Take the tale of Michael Galardi, the topless club owner who between 2001 and 2003 bribed politicians in Las Vegas and San Diego in order to help his clubs’ profitability. He testified in trials in 2005 and 2006. He served his time, getting out of prison in 2009.

Now, former San Diego City Councilman Michael Zucchet, the only defendant who beat the rap, has sued Galardi for malicious prosecution, claiming Galardi lied when he said he handed Zucchet a $10,000 bribe. The actual prosecutors were not sued.

Until now, this story seemed to have run its course. All five Las Vegas defendants have served their time and are moving on with their lives. Former San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza was the last to go to prison. He began his 21-month prison term in January.

The San Diego U-T reported Wednesday the civil lawsuit filed by Zucchet alleges that in order to curry favor with prosecutors, Galardi made up testimony about giving Zucchet a $10,000 bribe.

Galardi, who owned Cheetahs topless clubs in San Diego and Las Vegas, swore on the stand he bribed Zucchet. But the lawsuit said Galardi didn’t bring up that allegation until the trial itself. It wasn’t in FBI reports, grand jury testimony or any of the pretrial legal documents.

The judge didn’t find credible Galardi’s explanation that his memory had “recovered.” Seven counts were tossed, and a new trial was ordered on two counts. Zucchet appealed those two, and both were dismissed .

Zucchet’s lawyer told the San Diego newspaper his client wants a “vindication or a final cleansing of his name to the degree the allegations were shown to be false.”

The case in Las Vegas ended with Galardi and former Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny taking a deal. Former Commissioners Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Dario Herrera went to trial and were convicted. Lance Malone, former cop turned county commissioner turned Galardi bagman, was convicted in the 2005 San Diego trial and later pleaded guilty in Las Vegas.

Since serving time, they have taken different paths.

Malone is dishing up pizza at his new business, Pop’s Pizza in Las Vegas.

Kenny is running the medical office for her husband, a chiropractor.

Kincaid-Chauncey has sold her flower shop and lives quietly in North Las Vegas.

Herrera is a consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The last time we heard about him he was accused of pounding on his new wife, Michelle, earlier this year.

So who got the toughest sentence in all of this?

In terms of time, it was Malone, who delivered the bribes between 2001 and 2003 and persuaded fellow commissioners to take the money and favors and help Galardi’s businesses. Malone was sentenced to 72 months, to run concurrently with his three-year San Diego sentence. He was in custody 50 months.

In terms of pocketbook punishment, Galardi forfeited about $3.9 million in cash and paid $530,000 in fines and restitution. In terms of time, Galardi was sentenced to 30 months and was released after 18 months, the lightest time served in the case.

Kenny, who also cooperated and testified, was sentenced to 30 months and served 26 months in custody, part of that in a halfway house.

Herrera, who was bribed with cash and sexual favors, was sentenced to 50 months but was out in about 29 months.

Kincaid-Chauncey, whose bribes included cash and favors for family, was sentenced to 30 months and served all but six.

Often, I am asked for updates on whatever happened to this corrupt crew.

Zucchet’s lawsuit seemed the perfect time to update what was a trashy saga of sex, lies and audio tapes.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at or call her at 702-383-0275. She also blogs at

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