The revelation earlier this week that the Louisiana Office of Alcohol Tobacco Control (ATC) was lax in allowing the issuance of alcohol licenses to the wife of a felon has led to disclosure of another license issued to a Baton Rouge individual caught up in a high profile trial in Atlanta involving a well-known strip club with ties to the Gambino crime family and which was frequented by several NBA basketball players and singer Madonna.
As in the case of the New Orleans licenses, the license for the new owners of the North Gate Tavern right outside the LSU gates on West Chimes Street in Baton Rouge was issued to the relative of a man with a felony record, which is against the law in Louisiana as well as several other states.
Such practice is officially known as interposing on behalf of another in an attempt to obtain licenses.
Records obtained from ATC show that Ralph Goodman, 83, applied for the North Gate Tavern on Dec. 27 but observers say in reality, the club is run by Ralph Goodman’s son, Lyle Goodman. Ralph Goodman, who has no background in running night clubs, was a tool salesman from Brooklyn.
Lyle Goodman was among 17 defendants in the Atlanta Gold Club trial, charged with credit card fraud. He eventually accepted a plea bargain on a felony count of failure to report credit card fraud and was sentenced to three years of federal probation.
Lyle Goodman worked for his cousin Steve Kaplan at the Atlanta Gold Club that federal prosecutors said was a moneymaking operation for the Gambino family. NBA stars Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller each were said to have accepted sexual favors from dancers at the club.
Kaplan pleaded guilty to racketeering and surrendered ownership of the Gold Club. Goodman next showed up in Philadelphia where he worked as a “consultant” for a new strip club in 2001. As with the Baton Rouge club, Lyle Goodman’s father Ralph Goodman was the applicant for the liquor license for that club, Philadelphia records show.
While it is not immediately clear what happened with the 12,000 square foot Philadelphia strip club, Lyle and Ralph Goodman have now popped up in Baton Rouge where Lyle Goodman now runs a much smaller club under his father’s license, issued by ATC.
ATC, it appears, conducted little to nothing in the way of a background check on the Goodmans before issuing the license.
On the questionnaire that Ralph Goodman completed for his application there was a question which asked, “Is this application being made by you to permit any person other than yourself to secure a beer/liquor permit in your name for his/her benefit?”
Ralph Goodman checked “No” to the question.
In the New Orleans cases in which the wife of a convicted felon applied—and got—licenses from ATC, the person who complained was told by ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert that his office did not conduct background investigations. Hebert told the complainant, the person from whom the felon, Omar Hamdan, purchased the stores and which businesses subsequently were granted licenses, that applications are accepted by ATC “on the honor system.”
Title 26:80 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, however, says nothing about any such “honor system.”
Not only does the statute prohibit the issuance of a license to a convicted felon or his spouse, it also says that ATC “shall require a background investigation by means of fingerprint checks by the office of state police and the FBI of each applicant…”
It also says that all fingerprints “shall be available for use by the office of state police and for transmittal to the FBI for a national criminal history record check. The information obtained from the national criminal history record check conducted pursuant to this Section may be used by the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to determine the applicant’s eligibility for an alcoholic beverage permit.”
One of the witnesses against Kaplan and Kyle Goodman was a former employee named John Givens who testified that he sliced off a man’s ear for the mob.
“”Yeah, Givens worked for me at the Gold Club,” Lyle Goodman said in an interview after his trial, “and he testified he cut a guy’s ear off. But how was I supposed to know what he did with his social time?”
Hebert never responded to an interview request by LouisianaVoice.