Alaska News

Drug charge nets strip club owner home confinement

The federal government has taken over and closed down a landmark strip club in Spenard following the conviction of its owner on a drug charge, according to the U.S. attorney.

PJs strip club now belongs to Uncle Sam under terms of a plea deal with its owner, Hallie Dean McGinnis, 66, who was sentenced Thursday. The government will also take over the establishment's liquor license.

"He used PJs as a front to distribute the cocaine, either through his employees or himself," said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Thoreson.

The club was silent Thursday evening; a flier in the door said PJs' "Last Call" was on Saturday.

Lisa Norbert, acting chief with the U.S. Marshals Service in Alaska, said the property would likely be sold, though details had yet to be worked out.

"It gets sold one way or another, whether or not it's through a Realtor company or at auction," she said.

The strip club, at 3608 Spenard Road, is appraised for tax purposes by the city at $575,500 and has a long and storied past.


McGinnis took over PJs after his business partner was hit and killed while crossing Spenard Road in 1979. The strip club was for years home to Pillow, a famed dancer known also for being an intense Star Trek fan.

The location was also popular among dart players. In 1991, the five-member dart team PJ's Bandits, of which McGinnis was a member, won third place in a world competition in Las Vegas.

Things began unraveling in March 2006, however, when federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents bought about 2 grams of cocaine from two strippers working at the club. An informant also bought another half-gram from a bartender on May 11, 2007.

According to the plea agreement McGinnis reached with prosecutors, he was the supplier, selling strippers cocaine that they sold -- on the job and off -- or used themselves. An informant bought 4.3 grams from him in May 2007 and ATF agents later searching the place seized drug paraphernalia and 75.6 grams of cocaine they say McGinnis intended to sell at the club.

McGinnis was initially charged with distributing cocaine in addition to maintaining a drug-involved premise, but the distribution charge was taken off the table under the plea agreement.

Following prosecutors' recommendation, Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced him to one year of home confinement in addition to the 2 1/2 months in jail he has already served following his guilty plea.

Thoreson said the sentence is in line with the guidelines, based on the severity of the crime and the defendant's criminal history.

McGinnis could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589.