A Wissinoming strip-club owner, who pleaded with a federal judge not to lock him up so that he could continue to see his three daughters, was sentenced to three years in a federal slammer yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe ordered Kevin Rankin, 62, of Northeast Philadelphia - a former lawyer, high-school math teacher and pal of jailed ex-City Councilman Rick Mariano - to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons in 45 days.
Rufe also fined him $10,000 and ordered him to personally make restitution to the IRS of $109,193 and share in the restitution of an additional $107,100 with two co-defendants.
Court papers said that Rankin is in the process of liquidating his interest in 12 residential properties for $815,000 and his ownership in the strip club, Dangerous Curves, for $1.8 million.
Dangerous Curves came under federal scrutiny in October 2005.
Federal agents raided the club looking for evidence linking Rankin and club co-owner Bishop Krabsz to Mariano, who was convicted of corruption charges in 2006 and is currently serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence.
Agents found handguns in a desk in Rankin's office at Dangerous Curves and at his apartment at Pier 3, and at Krabsz's home in Cherry Hill.
Rankin spent time in jail in the 1980s for his involvement in a mob-connected drug ring and cannot legally possess firearms.
He was convicted by a jury in July of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and he later pleaded guilty to a second gun charge as well as conspiracy to make false statements to a financial institution, fraud and tax charges.
Addressing Rufe, Rankin said that he took "full responsibility" for his criminal acts, adding, "I'm no gunslinger."
Several prominent trial lawyers - including George Bochetto and Carmen Nasuti - testified on behalf of Rankin's character yesterday, as did a dancer at Dangerous Curves.
She told the court that Rankin had never said or done anything "inappropriate" with her.
Rufe said she couldn't understand why Rankin was back in court for sentencing yet again.
"Your character references are stellar but you're loose as a goose when it comes to your business," the judge said. "You allow others to sway you or you do it willingly," she said, adding that others would not be deterred from similar conduct "if you don't pay a certain price."
Nevertheless, the judge said some variance from the guideline-range sentence of 57 to 71 months was warranted.
In addition to Rankin's suffering from chronic heart disease, Rufe pointed to the fact that co-defendant Krabsz - convicted of similar charges - was sentenced in August by U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin to three years in prison.
Judges are sensitive to unwarranted disparity in sentences for defendants convicted of similar illegal conduct.
Defense lawyer NiaLena Caravasos said that Rufe "gave a fair sentence and gave us a fair hearing."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Barrett said: "The judge heard a lot of evidence and decided there were ample reasons for giving [Rankin] a 36-month sentence." *