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U.S. Attorney resigns after strip joint incident

MIAMI, May 17 -- U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey resigned Friday as head of one of the Justice Department's biggest prosecuting offices following reports of an incident in a nude dancing bar. Published reports said Coffey last February bought a $900 bottle of champagne and then bit a nude dancer on the arm at the Lipstik Adult Entertainment Club. Coffey, 43, said he sent the resignation to President Clinton on Friday, effective May 31. 'The decision to leave is the most difficult and painful decision of my life, but leave I must, because my family has paid too great a price for the sacrifices that accompany public service,' he said. 'And for the allegations recently raised and pending, I have concerns about the possible impact on the important work on my office,' he said. The alleged incident at the bar came following the acquittal of Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta in a high-profile drug case. Coffey called it 'a moment of intense disappointment.' The Miami Herald quoted sources as saying that Coffey brought the 28- year-old dancer to his booth at the nightclub for a private dance and in the course of a struggle, bit her on the arm. The dancer and her husband contacted attorneys Roy Black, one of the attorneys in the drug trial, and Hugo Black Jr. to inquire about a suit. They said they had photographs of the bite mark on her arm. Roy Black turned down the case, and Hugo Black was not available for comment.

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The dancer and her husband said they later decided not to sue. 'We had the chance to make a lot of money, and we decided not to,' the dancer's 34-year-old husband told The Herald. Club owner Jack Thomas said the stories about Coffey's behavior in his club were false. 'Kendall Coffey was in here, but nothing happened like that,' Thomas said. Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern said the department had received a report about Coffey in March and started an inquiry. The Miami U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami employs 200 lawyers and is believed to be the largest in the nation except for Washington.

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