Records: Former Milford strip club owner in bankruptcy cashed checks from reputed mobster

Photo of Ethan Fry
Keepers Gentlemen's Club on Woodmont Rd. in Milford, Conn. Six exotic dancers at the strip club will have their claims of unfair pay reviewed by an arbitrator.

Keepers Gentlemen's Club on Woodmont Rd. in Milford, Conn. Six exotic dancers at the strip club will have their claims of unfair pay reviewed by an arbitrator.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

The federal government says Joseph Regensburger has some explaining to do.

As Regensburger, the former president of a Milford strip club, asks an appeals court to set aside a judgment ordering him to pay $113,650 to former employees, a Department of Justice lawyer has accused Regensburger of cashing more than $100,000 in checks, with at least some of those checks connected to Gus Curcio Sr., a reputed mobster.

Regensburger declined to comment Wednesday when reached by phone, as did a lawyer who represents Curcio.

The revelation comes in federal court filings concerning Regensburger, who ran Keepers Gentlemen’s Club on Woodmont Road when it lost a lawsuit from six exotic dancers saying they were not paid a minimum wage or for overtime.

The defendants had argued the dancers were independent contractors, like hairdressers, and weren’t entitled to the benefits enjoyed by full-time employees.

The club and Regensburger appealed the case. Arguments are scheduled for Thursday in Hartford before the state’s Appellate Court.

While that process has been playing out, Regensburger also filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court, where he has said in filings he can’t afford a lawyer to represent him.

But according to Kenneth Krayeske, the dancers’ lawyer, bank documents he subpoenaed appear to show Regensburger has cashed thousands of dollars in checks signed by Curcio, a former reputed mobster involved with the club, from a limited liability company he controls.

In a filing Monday in that case, Holley L. Claiborne, a Department of Justice trial attorney who represents the United States Trustee in Regensburger’s bankruptcy case, drew attention to the cashed checks — and the fact that Regensburger didn’t declare any of the money in his bankruptcy documents.

“These checks and the use of the cash need to be explained by the Debtor,” Claiborne wrote in the filing, which asked a judge for an extension in the case to gather more evidence in the case “and to conduct further investigation.”

During a hearing Tuesday in the bankruptcy case, Krayeske cited the checks while asking Judge Julie Manning to let him question the lawyers representing Keepers and Curcio. In objecting to Krayeske’s request, the lawyers — Stephen Bellis and Jonathan Klein — said that Krayeske is conducting a legal fishing expedition for information protected by attorney-client privilege.

The judge asked the lawyers to file more papers outlining their positions and continued the hearing to March 8.

The Appellate Court arguments are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.