Blush sues Pittsburgh over moonlighting ban

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The Blush strip club filed suit against the city Wednesday in a bid to continue hiring police officers for side security details -- a practice it said has helped to keep the club safe for nearly 50 years.

The suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court claims that the city police bureau unfairly targeted the adult-entertainment industry with a March 13 directive barring officers from any more moonlighting details at Blush, Downtown, and at the Cheerleaders gentlemen's club in the Strip District.

If the city permits officers to moonlight at other establishments, it must allow them to moonlight at Blush, said attorney Jonathan Kamin, who filed the suit.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald issued the directive as part of an overhaul of secondary employment rules, which have come under scrutiny partly because of a federal probe into how the city collects and spends money generated by officers' moonlighting.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted former police Chief Nate Harper for his role in diverting more than $70,000 in secondary-employment revenue to a secret account and for spending more than $30,000 of that money on alcohol, a television, satellite radio and other personal expenses. He also was indicted for tax offenses. His attorney, Robert G. Del Greco Jr., said Mr. Harper intends to plead guilty.

Mr. Kamin said he will present his complaint in motions court today, and city solicitor Daniel Regan said the city will be present to defend itself.

"The chief believed that she had the authority to issue that order," he said.

The suit alleges constitutional and due-process violations. It says Chief McDonald issued the directive with less than 48 hours' notice and gave Blush no opportunity to be heard.

Because of the service provided by police officers and Blush's own civilian security guards, the club has operated "without any serious incidents" for nearly 50 years, the suit said. Since March 13, Mr. Kamin said, the club has relied entirely on its civilian guards.

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Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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