Tony Galeota: From Running Porky's, Miami's Most Notorious Strip Joint, to Rotting in a Panamanian Jail

They also discovered the club was registered as a massage parlor, not a brothel. Its Colombian dancers were in Panama on six-month tourist visas, weren't licensed as prostitutes, and weren't getting required weekly health checkups. Prosecutors charged Galeota and Fainberg with not only drug dealing but also human trafficking.

Galeota was crammed into a sweltering holding cell with 150 others. Anthony Jr. was taken to a juvenile detention center that wasn't much better. Kristy was able to pay a lawyer $500 to get her son released, but there was no bond for Galeota's drug offense. Two days later, he was transferred to La Joya — a hellish cinder-block complex an hour outside of Panama City.

As he sweated in jail, Galeota's Panamanian empire crumbled. Three weeks after the Doll House raid, Kristy was working the bar at Bongos when three teenagers walked into the restaurant. The last one locked the door.

Anthony Galeota (right) poses with Ludwig "Tarzan" Fainberg inside the Doll House weeks before their arrest.
Photo courtesy of Josh Weiss
Anthony Galeota (right) poses with Ludwig "Tarzan" Fainberg inside the Doll House weeks before their arrest.
Surrounded by Colombian strippers, Galeota gives a toast during a party at the Doll House.
Photo courtesy of Josh Weiss
Surrounded by Colombian strippers, Galeota gives a toast during a party at the Doll House.

"Everybody give me your money!" one of the kids shouted as he pulled a handkerchief over his face and wildly swung a revolver. After that, Kristy closed Bongos.

The nightmare deepened for Galeota. Panamanian newspapers put "Operation Fiesta" on the front page as prosecutors alleged Galeota was part of an international crime ring. Banks seized all seven of his apartments. Kristy and his sons hid in a shabby, poorly protected office. They finally fled the country this past July, leaving Tony alone. Inside La Joya, he had paid a guard to smuggle in a BlackBerry to talk to his wife, but strangers kept calling with threats to kill his kids unless he paid them.

"They would describe what they looked like," Galeota says. "Then they'd tell me: 'They are as good as dead.'"

Panama had gone from paradise to purgatory.


At the entrance to La Joya, ant hills and wasp nests surround a wooden sign. In hand-painted white lettering, it reads, "Dear visitors. All the services here are free. If any official asks you to pay for anything, please report them."

Inside the prison, the sign is a running joke. La Joya is flush with contraband, from cell phones and cigarettes to marijuana and handguns — all of it brought in with the complicity of corrupt guards. During a visit last month, a New Times reporter witnessed one police official receive a $20 bill in a barely disguised handshake.

"That clean, business-friendly, postcard-Panama bullshit is just a façade," Galeota says. "This country is corrupt. Everything here has a cost."

For a while, Panama's pay-to-play culture suited Galeota just fine. He and Fainberg were on their way to riches thanks to powerful friends and legalized prostitution. But then the country's corrupt system turned on them. The irony is not lost on Galeota that after a life of crime in Miami, he was arrested in Panama just as he was going legit.

"The worst part of being in here is being in here for nothing. Prostitution is legal in Panama," he complains. "Maybe we didn't have the permits we were supposed to have, but we're foreigners who didn't understand the rules."

On a crowded balcony overlooking La Joya, Galeota describes the past 16 months as a nightmare. Prisoners eat stale bread and a slice of cheese for breakfast; rice — and sometimes beans — is their lunch and dinner. Days go by without water, and when it does arrive, it's turbid sludge from a nearby river. Rats, roaches, and beetles the size of Chihuahuas crawl over inmates at night.

It could be worse. When Galeota arrived, his mobster reputation preceded him. While another new prisoner was beaten and robbed, Galeota was untouched. Luckier still, a powerful Colombian inmate named Mauricio Ramírez recognized Galeota from his restaurant. He offered protection and gave Galeota $200.

At night, the guards lock the gate and leave, turning over control of each cell block to prisoners. Galeota has seen several murders. One man stabbed someone over a $10 debt. When one inmate killed another, the dead man's gang on the outside murdered the inmate's entire family, Galeota says. The dead and dying are piled into wheelbarrows and left by the front gate until guards arrive in the morning.

"I'm in survival mode now," Galeota says, adding that he agonizes over being imprisoned for what he believes are unjust charges. "We treated the women well."

For the most part, Doll House dancers agree. In court statements and interviews with New Times, they said Galeota gave them contracts to sign, cell phones and computers to use, and apartments in which to live.

"He never forced us to do anything. We didn't even have to have sex unless we wanted to," says a Colombian stripper named Catherine. She is cute and curvy with dark hair and a button nose. Catherine says she slept with customers because she needed the money to support her family. "It's not an easy choice," she says. "But I did it for my child."

Unfortunately, Galeota's defense isn't as simple as quoting strippers, says his lawyer, Guillermina McDonald. She is a high-powered attorney who has defended two former presidents in corruption cases, but even she hasn't been able to get Galeota out of jail yet. Panama's judicial system is outdated and overburdened, she says.

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25 comments
sampaiolaw
sampaiolaw

@MikeMillerMiami another great article.

NotRollergirl
NotRollergirl

@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo Ooooooh! I really could spend all day reading about glamorous gangster dodginess.

pleasedonteatjo
pleasedonteatjo

@AndrewMaleMojo Woah. Those two would get on like a house on fire. Or cocaine and a bank note.

hiwrecker
hiwrecker

What does "Manhattan's infamous West End" refer to? Is it the West End bar that used to be near Columbia University? Or West End Ave.? Anyway , it can hardly be "infamous" if I can't seem to find anything about it.

 

TararaBoumdier
TararaBoumdier

Trying to stamp out prostitution is even sillier than trying to stamp out drugs.

kutepi4791
kutepi4791

Ha ha, you get what you deal out, I'm glad you're going through this. You people talking about the place are just as disgusting as this fat pig and belong there with him. Selling human flesh and drugs, we all know what kind of a filthy life that is. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

mobstersuck
mobstersuck

Boo-hoo, the ruthless mobster lost it all. He's right where he belongs, hope he rots in there.

Pianoman
Pianoman

Tony G.is my friend.I used to bring my guitar down to Porkys and play and sing "Ruby Baby" for the dancers in the back room.They had a cute midget (little person) working there I used to like.Great ass!!

thebulldog
thebulldog

and what about the neon guy, he was awesome too!

jcalvo2378
jcalvo2378

Porkay's was our Cheers...it wasn't a stripclub, it wad a hangout. A place where everyone knew each other n just hung out. Tony n Jimmy where staples there...such as big Carl, Santi n Carlos. Those where the good ol'days!

mjorizondo
mjorizondo

Who doesn't love a fat guy in a rabbit coat?

DavidOvalle305
DavidOvalle305

@DavidOvalle305 El Centro Espanol might have been a close second in terms of notoriety

AndrewMaleMojo
AndrewMaleMojo

@NotRollergirl @pleasedonteatjo Grot-glamour. It's the proximity to shoddiness and crap taste that I love. The Kim Dotcom aesthetic.

AndrewMaleMojo
AndrewMaleMojo

@pleasedonteatjo They have just both rolled up my Instapaper icon and are attempting to snort Shazam.

freetonyg
freetonyg

@unclelukereal1 check out the @miaminewtimes article. Its crazy. Could use ur help in spreading the word on this innocent American in jail.

freetonyg
freetonyg

@unclelukereal1 it is a strip club in Hialeah..right near the airport...google it...google ludwig Fainberg and tony galeota

freetonyg
freetonyg

@DavidOvalle305 Centro was quite notorious..however they came & went very quickly. That can't be denied. #Porkys thrived for a long time.

MikeMillerMiami
MikeMillerMiami

@DavidOvalle305 You have a point, but only Porky's had a Russian-Colombian cocaine submarine plot. What a place! More to come tomorrow, too.

NotRollergirl
NotRollergirl

@AndrewMaleMojo It's that amazing idea that everyone will take you at your own estimation for a bit, no matter how demented your lies are.

NotRollergirl
NotRollergirl

@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo YES! Have you seen Damsels In Distress with the chick who pretends to be British?

NotRollergirl
NotRollergirl

@AndrewMaleMojo @pleasedonteatjo HAR. It took me a little while, but I was Sambola-ing in my seat at the end.

AndrewMaleMojo
AndrewMaleMojo

@NotRollergirl @pleasedonteatjo As a typical playboy-operator type I gave that film the swerve.

 
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