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Portland strip-club kingpin pleads guilty to promoting prostitution


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A 75-year-old man who authorities say promoted prostitution at his Portland strip clubs has pleaded guilty to federal charges, but is expected to be out of prison by the end of the month.

Lawrence Owen pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and conspiring to use an interstate facility to promote prostitution.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon sentenced Owen to 2 ½ years in prison. Owen has been behind bars since he was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border more than two years ago. With credit for time served, he is expected to be free in two weeks.

Owen operated more than a dozen adult-themed businesses, mostly strip clubs. Prosecutors say they served as fronts for a sprawling prostitution ring.

Defense attorney Noel Grefenson sought a lenient sentence, saying his client is in poor health and wants to be with his 7-year-old daughter.

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