Janesville64.3°

Police continue prostitution investigation

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 4, 2008
— Police anticipate arresting Screamin’ MeeMees’ owners Jim and Rebecca Halbach and the strip club’s manager in relation to an ongoing prostitution investigation there, Deputy Police Chief David Moore said Tuesday.

Moore asked that the city’s alcohol licensing committee postpone a vote for at least 30 days on whether to issue a liquor license to the 402 W. Delavan Drive site. That may give the district attorney enough time to file charges, Moore said.


Rebecca Halbach, Jim Halbach’s wife, applied for the license.


Halbachs’ attorney, Stephen Werner, said the Halbachs would close the strip club if they get an alcohol license. City ordinance requires that, as well.


The committee postponed the decision until July 1.


Screamin’ MeeMees has been under investigation since last summer, and 18 people have been charged with misdemeanor prostitution. Assistant district attorney Raymond Jablonski said one of the women charged had her charge amended to disorderly conduct and paid the county fine. Two male clients pleaded guilty.


“The police department has some serious concerns about granting this alcohol license,” Moore told committee members before their deliberations.


The investigation is ongoing and police “anticipate charging the owners and manager of Screamin’ MeeMees as it relates to this investigation,” Moore said.


Police have new information and continue working with the district attorney’s office, he said.


Moore told committee members that police are concerned that the same individuals running Screamin’ MeeMees would receive the alcohol license.


City attorney Wald Klimczyk, who was on vacation, asked outside counsel whether the city could legally consider past violations at the strip club in issuing an alcohol license.


Attorney Richard Yde, Madison, said in a letter that there is “substantial evidence that Screamin’ MeeMees has been maintained as a ‘disorderly or riotous, indecent or improper house,’ as that phrase is used in (Wisconsin statutes) … In particular, it has been used as a house of prostitution based on direct observation by city police officers and other evidence, resulting in numerous arrests … ”


Werner said Tuesday that he “obviously” would not address the allegations or what appear to be forthcoming allegations.


“With all due respect, if you are concerned about operating an adult (strip club) at that location, we’re certainly proposing to eliminate that use,” he said.


Council and committee member Tom McDonald first proposed denying an alcohol license, but he did not get a second.


Voting to postpone the vote for 30 days was Mark Schroeder, Matt Schreier and Carol Engebretson.


Moore said he’d prefer 60 days, but Schroeder said the committee had an applicant who should get a timely answer.


Jim Halbach was unable to get an alcohol license for 402 W. Delavan Drive after he bought the former Springbrook Food Mart in 2000.


Neighbors then complained about too many bars in the area and the possibility of noise, trash and vandalism.


He then opened Screamin’ MeeMees. He also owns Diamond Jim’s Isabella Queen, a strip club on Highway 51 south of Janesville.


Halbach is applying for an alcohol license for Rev. Jim’s Roadhouse. Halbach owns Rev. Jim’s Roadhouses in Madison and Stoughton.



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