An Atlanta strip club’s efforts to gain the upper hand over a competitor have resulted in prison time for three of its employees, who were sentenced on conspiracy to commit arson charges yesterday.
On Tuesday (Jan. 5), a federal judge sentenced Harold “Bit” Thrower, a manager at Platinum 21, to three years in prison for his role in trying to burn down his chief adult entertainment rival, Club Onyx.
Thrower’s work as a government informer enabled U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes to lessen his time behind bars from the mandatory five-year minimum sentence.
Tuesday’s ruling concludes a bitter rivalry between Club Onyx and Platinum 21, a long-standing adult entertainment fixture in Atlanta. Prior to Onyx’ arrival to Atlanta in late 2006, Platinum enjoyed consistent business from customers.
That reign would come to an end as Onyx garnered recognition for attracting upscale young clientele as well as hosting parties for well-known rap stars such as T.I. and Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell.
Onyx’ success did not sit well with Thrower, who became upset over Platinum 21’s loss of revenue and told employees in November 2006 that their pay would be cut if the club continued to lose money.
According to a federal affidavit, Thrower revealed to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators his intention to hire Sandeo Dyson, Platinum 21’s head security guard, to “solve the Club Onyx problem.”
Dyson, an Army medic, initially went about infesting roaches and rats in Onyx, but the effort failed to deter customers. At the trial, Thrower testified that he and Platinum 21’s general manager, Boyd Smith resorted to a more extreme effort that involved paying Dyson $5,000 to burn Onyx down.
Dyson accomplished his objective on Jan. 2, 2007 by setting Club Onyx on fire, causing $1.8 million in damages to the establishment. The impact of the fire was short-lived as an internal surveillance system was left intact amid the destruction.
Despite a videotape showing a man starting the fire and then scurrying out of the building, the case was unsolved for six months until ATF agents focused on Thrower.
After admitting to his role in the arson, the strip club executive turned on his co-workers by leading authorities to Dyson, who admitted to setting the blaze at Club Onyx.