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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

New indictment links former DEA special agent to recently-arrested strip club owner

The new indictment charges Joseph Bongiovanni and Peter Gerace, Jr. with conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The U.S. Attorney's Office says a federal grand jury has now brought forth a second superseding indictment in a case involving a former Department of Drug Enforcement special agent who they allege shielded a former Buffalo teacher and a strip club owner who was engaged in criminal activity.

The new indictment charges Joseph Bongiovanni, 56, of Tonawanda, and Peter Gerace, Jr., 53, of Clarence, with conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

This comes just days after the Miami Herald reported that Gerace, who owns Pharaoh's Gentlemen's Club in Cheektowaga, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale. Gerace is also charged with bribing a public official, maintaining drug-involved premises, and conspiring to commit sex trafficking.

Bongiovanni is a former DEA special agent who the U.S. Attorney's Office alleges took bribes in exchange for not investigating, shielding, and providing information to people who were involved with organized crime. Bongiovanni is also charged with accepting a bribe as a public official, maintaining drug-involved premises, and conspiring to commit sex trafficking.

The charges these men face carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Both have been released under conditions.

It is alleged by the U.S. Attorney's Office that Bongiovanni took $250,000 in bribes over eight years. 

Michael Masecchia, a high school teacher who was also allegedly involved with Bongiovanni, previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Masecchia was involved with the sale of marijuana in the Buffalo area and admitted to receiving law enforcement information from Bongiovanni.