Tony Soprano, the lead in HBO’s early 2000s mob drama, The Sopranos, spent much of his time wheeling and dealing at Bada Bing!, a New Jersey strip club. The fictional club that served as Soprano’s place of business and pleasure actually exists in present-day Lodi, New Jersey: It’s a club called Satin Dolls.
Bada Bing! and Satin Dolls bear more than a physical resemblance, though. The real club has now been ordered to cease live entertainment, and either sell or transfer its liquor licenses, because of their alleged noncompliance with a previous consent order. The news comes at the behest of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, along with the Division of Alcohol Beverage Control, who have been investigating Satin Dolls and another club, A.J.’s Gentleman’s Club, for the past six years (they’re both owned by members of the Cardinalle family).
In a statement released last week, officials confirmed that one Anthony Cardinalle was “criminally disqualified from maintaining involvement with the clubs’ operations,” likely because of his rap sheet, which involves racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit extortion. Yet Cardinalle remained involved.
What’s more, authorities allege that “the owners failed to account for large amounts of cash flowing in and out of the businesses,” which, for Anthony Cardinalle, is history repeating itself. He pled guilty to federal income tax evasion in 1995, on the grounds of not reporting cash payments from various gentlemen’s clubs that he had undisclosed interests in. If his mob ties weren’t explicit enough, Cardinalle was indicted for his involvement in a waste-disposal conspiracy with the Genovese crime family in 2013.
This isn’t the first of Satin Doll’s woes. In 2011, a consent order mandated that Luceen Cardinalle, Anthony’s wife and the person listed as the shareholder of both establishments, hand off the liquor licenses to Loren, their daughter. Loren had been ordered to transfer both licenses to a third party at the end of 2015, but asked for permission to hold both of them. She requested permission to continue to hold the licenses, and was granted several extensions (the latest one was set for September 2017). It didn’t help matters that in May 2017, authorities slapped the family with a Notice of Charges for criminal solicitation for prostitution and lewd activity, which happened on the premises.
“The Cardinalles may have wanted to keep the business in the family, but that’s not how it works. Their continued flouting of Alcoholic Beverage Control laws cannot and will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Porrino said in a statement. “Illegal activity was glorified at the ‘Bada Bing’ in the fictional world of Tony Soprano, but it has no place in modern-day New Jersey. It’s time to shut it down.”
Still, it’s impressive that the very club central to a television series about a crime family in the Garden State got nabbed for something related to mafia activities—especially since a huge proportion of Satin Dolls visitors are die-hard Sopranos fans. While there’s something to be said for existing right under someone’s nose, this is something else. Bada bing, bada boom indeed.
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