NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk police arrested 11 individuals on prostitution and drug charges during a large scale operation at the Office Café strip club on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Special Services investigators worked in conjunction with the Connecticut State Police Organized Crime Task Force and the Statewide Narcotics Task Force Southwest Office to obtain 38 arrest warrants for a dozen individuals and two search warrants, police said.
After receiving dozens of complaints and confidential tips, officers infiltrated the strip club at 201 Liberty Square in an undercover capacity and were able to purchase varying amounts of cocaine, according to police reports.
Leigha Rybnick, 41, of Stamford, allegedly sold cocaine to undercover officers on nine separate occasions as manager and bartender of the club, police said. Police executed a search warrant at her residence and reportedly recovered additional cocaine, marijuana, illegally possessed prescription pills and drug paraphernalia, according to police. She was arrested on the active warrants during a car stop, where additional cash and cocaine were recovered, police said.
Club owner Gene Morell, 60, of Norwalk, was arrested on scene and charged with five counts of permitting and promoting prostitution.
Bouncer Dylan Pascale, 27, of Norwalk, was charged with two counts of promoting and permitting prostitution.
Bartender Briana Hickey, 21, of Norwalk, was charged with two counts of sale of narcotics conspiracy and two counts of narcotics possession.
Emily Soto, 23, of Bridgeport, an "exotic dancer employee," was charged with two counts of prostitution. A bag of cocaine was allegedly found in her purse upon being taken into police custody, police said. She was additionally charged with narcotics possession.
Barbara Scharoun, 27, of Norwalk, an "exotic dancer employee," was found to have an outstanding failure to appear warrant.
Dancer Ashley Ouelett, 26, of Bridgeport, was arrested on three counts of prostitution and one count of sale and possession of narcotics conspiracy.
Dancer Cassandra Bryan, 35, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., was arrested on five counts of prostitution and one count of sale and possession of marijuana.
Favored patron George Reyes, 30, of Norwalk, was charged with one count of sale and possession of marijuana.
Favored patron William Oberdoster, 44, of Norwalk, was charged with one count of sale of narcotics and sale of narcotics conspiracy.
James Gibson, 29, of Stratford, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of narcotics. He was allegedly found to be in possession of cocaine and marijuana when officers entered the club, police said.
Police conducted a second search warrant on the Office Café on Tuesday. Police said that officers recovered bar and employee documents, which will assist in the continuing investigation. Police also seized liquor that was stored in the bar, along with more than $16,000, which police said is believed to be ill-gotten gains of the crimes investigated.
Police said that several suspects are still wanted on outstanding warrants and that the investigation is ongoing.
As a result of the investigation, Officer Brian Barrett and Officer Marc Suda applied for a Nuisance Abatement civil affidavit against the Office Café in Stamford Superior Court. Police said that the motion was approved on Wednesday, and officers served the motion, closing the bar. Police said that Nuisance Abatement actions are focused on cleaning up properties that are magnets for illegal activity, in addition to punishing wrongdoers.
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