Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted Out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History, by Michael D. Blutrich

When Michael Blutrich first looked at becoming a partner in a club in New York City the original intent was that it be a high-end sports bar. But one of the partners pushed to include strippers and lap dancers and that led to the double-entendre name of Scores.

At the time Blutrich was living in Florida. An attorney, he was trying to get untangled from an insurance company in which the principles had committed fraud, and he assisted with some loan schemes. This ends up playing an important part in the latter part of the book.

From the start, creating Scores ran into challenges working around organized crime figures who ran many of the activities in the area. Blutrich needed to work out getting approval of the Gambino Family just to open. A deal was eventually worked out in which the club would pass along $1000 in cash each week that went into the hands of John Gotti. They would also be required to pass along valet parking services to a nearby pizza restaurant owned by mob figures as well as subcontracting the coat-check service to the son of their main contact with the Gambinos.

At the same time, Blutrich was a partner in a firm that, at least as a figurehead, included Mario Cuomo and also hired Andrew Cuomo as a clerk. Soon after opening the law office was bugged by the FBI. The equipment was removed but this just spurred the FBI to make warranted searches of Blutrich’s home and the club looking for evidence that they were money laundering for the mob.

As the relationship with the mob became more stressful Blutrich eventually agreed to allow surveillance equipment in the law office and club, and also agreed to wear a wire on several occasions. Eventually the feds were able to gain information that helped convict several members of the crime family on charges including conspiracy to commit murder and tax evasion.

Blutrich and his partner were promised immunity and witness protection for wearing the wires and acting as witnesses. What they didn’t count on were federal attorneys and judges in Florida who were determined to prosecute on the earlier insurance fraud problems. They maintained an attitude, far different from what New York prosecutors had done, that witnesses were simply criminals trying to save their own skins. As a result they nearly endangered the surveillance in New York several times. Blutrich and his partner signed on to a plea agreement for minor prison time, a few months to a year. The Florida judge ignored the recommended sentence normal on a plea deal and sentenced both Blutrich and his partner to fifteen years. They ended up serving 13 years, far longer than any of the people they helped put in prison in New York.

Blutrich is a good storyteller, and includes lots of details, not just on the mob issues but on managing a “gentlemen’s club”. The club ¬†eventually became a favorite haunt of Howard Stern, and his regular talk about the place brought in stars like Leonardo di Caprio and Charlie Sheen. There’s plenty revealed about many of the raunchier parts of the business and the management headaches involved.

There are also some pretty frightening moments when his being wired was nearly discovered, and he’s very frank about using his known homosexuality to make body searches uncomfortable.

In all, it’s an often funny book with plenty of tense moments and an interesting look at an odd slice of New York City history.