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The investigation into the Nixa, Missouri strip club and adult cabaret began in

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Defense attorney Dee Wampler said Friday that Illusions strip club in Christian County will close down after owner Craig Winchell pleaded guilty to 10 misdemeanors. The crimes are for violating Missouri laws about the operation of a "sexually oriented business. The strip club, which is located on Guin Road between Springfield and Nixa, had long been a thorn in the side of the Christian County Sheriff's Office, which said Illusions attracted violence — like an October shooting in the Illusions parking lot that injured one person.

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As I watched the late-Friday afternoon TV press conference about the closing of the Illusions Gentlemen's Club outside Nixa, I couldn't help but think of the brave deputies and detectives who worked countless hours undercover to bring an end to this sordid chapter of Christian County history. For a second I thought the deputies had been deployed to Illusions during a secret mission, which I'll call Operation Stop the Grind.

Closure of illusions gentlemen’s club

The investigation took a year and ended last week when Craig Winchell, described as one of the club's owners, pleaded guilty to several criminal and civil charges and allegations in which he admitted he did not follow state law regarding how to operate a sexually-oriented business.

His business has been a thorn in the side of Sheriff Cole and others for years. Cole told the News-Leader back in that the strip club was a drain on his law enforcement resources.

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His department responded to the club, at Guin Road, between Springfield and Nixa, more than any location. Owner Winchell at the time attributed the spike in criminal activity — such as gunshots fired in the parking lot — to an increase in the of "gangbangers" from Springfield visiting the club. Cole and Fite at the press conference stressed the investigative resources it took to put an end to the long-term strain on resources caused by the club and to bring Winchell to justice.

Pokin around: when duty called, deputies responded to challenge of going to strip club

The main investigative tool, Cole said, was the undercover work done by deputies and detectives who went to the strip club. Pokin Around: Plans call for part of Chadwick Flyer spur line to become recreational trail.

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The strip club had been closed in recent weeks. Cole said it was more due to the investigation than the pandemic.

Illusions gentlemen’s club closes after owner ple guilty to multiple charges

According to court documents, the Christian County Sheriff's Office sent two deputies undercover to the club Feb. A search warrant application states the deputies were told by the front door cashier that their price of admission included purchase of a yellow cup with the Illusions logo which they could take out to their vehicle, fill with alcohol and then return to the club. Alcohol consumption is prohibited at sexually-oriented businesses in Missouri.

That's why the strip club did not have a liquor.

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According to the search warrant application, the deputies observed violations such as the club staying open past midnight, nude and semi-nude dancers performing less than 6 feet from patrons and dancers touching patrons and allowing patrons to touch them. The documents also say deputies observed dancers grinding on patrons in the strip club's "bed dance" area, which is curtained off from the main room inside the business.

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Pokin Around: I don't expect answer, but: Why does this Walmart keep condoms locked up? Well-known defense lawyer Dee Wampler, who makes no secret of his conservative Christian beliefs, represents Winchell, the strip club owner.

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Wampler said the owner had suffered health setbacks that hindered his ability to keep an eye on the club's operation. These are the views of News-Leader columnist Steve Pokin, who has been at the paper eight years, and over his career has covered everything from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached atspokin gannett. Boonville, Springfield, MO Facebook Twitter.

Pokin Around: When duty called, deputies responded to challenge of going to strip club. Steve Pokin Springfield News-Leader.