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A federal judge sentenced Michael Galardi, who has admitted to bribing three members of the San Diego City Council, to 15 months in federal prison Thursday and ordered the former owner of the Cheetahs strip club to pay a $30,000 fine for his role in the city’s Strippergate scandal.

He will also have to serve a three-year term of supervised release after completing his sentence.

After cutting a deal with federal prosecutors, Galardi had testified in court that he had funneled money to the politicians in exchange for their promise to vote for repealing San Diego’s “no touch” law for strip clubs.

Galardi pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2003, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. Interim U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt, the top federal prosecutor in San Diego, said Galardi’s sentence reflected his cooperation in the corruption trials of former council members Ralph Inzunza, Michael Zucchett and lobbyist Lance Malone. A jury found all three guilty in July 2005 of many of the charges brought by the government. A judge later acquitted Zucchet of some of the charges and ordered a new trial on the others, and Inzunza is currently waiting on an appeal. The third councilman, Charles Lewis, died before he could stand trial.

“Corruption, at any level, is an acid eating away at our public institutions as well as the trust of all citizens,” said Dan Dzwilewski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego division. “Mr. Galardi’s sentence reflects his culpability, and his ultimate acceptance of responsibility, in a sad chapter in our community history. In the end, it does reaffirm the principle that we are a government of laws, not men.”

Another judge recently sentenced Galardi to serve 30 months in prison on similar corruption charges in Las Vegas in a case that also involved Malone. His 12-month sentence will run concurrently, meaning he will not need to serve an additional prison time.

VLADIMIR KOGAN

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