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Yesterday, the prosecution in the case against accused strip club fire-starter Vasile Graure entered into evidence a sizable exhibit: A scale model of Glover Park’s Good Guys strip club, complete with three mini stripper stages, a mini bar, and mini patron figurines. Government prosecutors wheeled it in on a table, a curtain covering the set until the evidence was admitted. Then, the government called to the stand Jeffery Dean Gary, a 29-year veteran of the FBI and an expert in the construction of scale models.
Gary told the story of the scale model. He woke up at 3 a.m. one day to visit the club in its off-hours, arriving at 4:30 and working until mid-morning. Gary measured 14 Good Guys tables, a “representative chair,” an ATM, a jukebox, a cigarette machine, three stages, and a bar. He then returned to his workroom, where he recreated the strip club in a one inch to one foot scale. He’s been doing this for years.
Prosecutors called Gary down to the model and asked him to peek under the curtain, where his model stood. “Do you recognize what is under that sheet?” the government attorney asked Gary. Defense attorneys appeared visibly amused as they craned their heads, trying to get a glimpse of the secret, expertly-built strip club set.
The jurors in Graure’s trial have heard testimony detailing a panicked club fire, a horrific struggle, and a man burned within an inch of his life. But the trial is punctuated by light moments, too: an attorney refers to the thickness of his own hair; a police officer reveals his familiarity to the club with an emphatic “oh, yes, sir”; a curtain is whisked away, revealing a tiny strip club on wheels.
“They’re laughing,” one witness told another after she left the courtroom yesterday. She had just delivered testimony about watching a co-worker exit a burning nightclub, his skin singed off. “They’re making jokes and stuff.”