The former owner of an infamous Dodge County strip club known for prostitution and violent pimps, was sentenced Friday to more than a year in prison.
Radomir Buzdum “was neither a pimp, nor a drug dealer, nor even the primary point of contact for this element at the club,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.
“But he was an enabler whose actions (or failure to act) facilitated the commercial sexual exploitation of untold numbers of women at his club between 2012 and 2019.”
Buzdum, 62, was charged in April 2021, and pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to use facilities in interstate commerce to commit prostitution, and filing false tax returns. At one time, he was also part owner of a downtown Milwaukee strip club, but was bought out by other partners after his indictment.
“I’m ashamed of myself,” Buzdum told US District Judge Lynn Adelman. “I’m truly sorry. I lost everything I’d worked 40 years for.”
Adelman called Buzdum “an American success story in many respects,” with no prior record, who accepted responsibility and isn’t a threat to the public.
He also noted that business owners are generally rational, and that a prison sentence for Buzdum might deter others who contemplate tax evasion and sex trafficking.
Buzdum must pay $171,510 in restitution to the IRS and spend two years on supervision after his prison term.
Others at TNT strip club also sentenced to prison
Christopher Childs, a pimp who operated at the Dodge County club, called TNT, was sentenced in 2020 to 27 years in prison. His cooperation contributed to the indictment of the owner and two managers of another rural strip club, The Hardware Store, in Clyman, also in Dodge County.
While prostitution is linked to many strip clubs, investigators say it was very out in the open at the Dodge County establishments.
One of the managers was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison. The owner got two years.
Federal prosecutors recommended 21 months in prison for Buzdum.
“The online customer reviews quoted in the (pre-sentence report) paint a picture of an ‘everything goes’ atmosphere where some seldom dancers even took the stage because they were busy engaging in commercial sex acts with a steady stream of regulars,” according to the government’s sentencing memo.
Federal prosecutors say Buzdum knew what was taking place at club
The indictment charged that Buzdum implemented changes at the club to accommodate such practices, like installing “champagne rooms” with locking doors and no security cameras. It also charged that Buzdum skimmed lots of the cash generated by the business and failed to report it as income.
Timothy Miller, the former manager at TNT, was in charge with Buzdum. Miller pleaded guilty in August to the same prostitution conspiracy count. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9.
Assistant US Attorney Richard Frohling challenged the defense portrait of Buzdum as a hands-off owner unaware of exactly what was going on at TNT. He played recordings of Buzdum talking with other businessmen and his wife describing details of operations.
He said he made 350 trips from home to the club one year, that TNT made more than $12,000 a week, and described how he advised dancers to tell if prostitution customers were undercover law enforcement.
In another, he’s heard trying to negotiate with a woman at the club he who says he promised $200 for sex but was trying to pay less.
Women under the control of so-called gorilla pimps like Childs were favored by Buzdum and Miller, prosecutors said, because they were more reliable and generated more income since at TNT their pimps could oversee them. They also violently enforced rules without intervention. The pimps profited too, because they could operate with much less chance of their women escaping, or detection by law enforcement.
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In his sentencing memo, defense attorney Dean Strang recounted Buzdum’s personal history: the son of subsistence farmers in Croatia, he came to the the US at 12, and started school in Butler, before learning a word of English or how to use the school restroom .
By 25, he opened Buzdum’s Pub at South 6th and Cleveland streets, the first of many taverns and restaurants he would go on to own and operate.
In 2012, he repossessed the Roadhouse. It had been a bar but a tenant converted it to a strip club. It allowed prostitution and where management kept “shady” books and looked the other way when pimps assaulted dancers, according to court records.
Buzdum renamed it TNT.
“He should have (and could have) fixed everything. He should’ve fired Mr. Miller (the manager). He should’ve cleaned house,” Strang wrote. “He should’ve started over and and run it the way he ran his taverns — on the straight and narrow. But he didn’t.”
“He knew it was wrong not to change TNT. That’s why he was actively trying to sell it. He forced the shame and anxiety in, refused to acknowledge it, and powered through by working,” the memo reads.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former strip club owner sentenced in prostitution conspiracy case