MIAMI -- Two Eastern European women who helped squeeze South Beach tourists by running up thousands of dollars in exorbitant bar tabs pleaded guilty Wednesday in Miami federal court.
Anastassia Mikrukova, 24, of Estonia, and Agnese Rudaka, 23, of Latvia, pleaded guilty to one count each of lying to federal authorities when applying to enter the country as tourists.
The pair -- who traded in their sexy nightclub attire for olive-green inmate jumpsuits -- will be sentenced Aug. 31 in front of U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. They face a maximum of five years in prison, although it is unlikely they will receive significant prison time.
Under the plea agreement, the two will cooperate with federal prosecutors and could testify against their co-defendants.
Prosecutors charged 17 people -- many from or connected to Eastern Europe -- with fraud last month for allegedly luring well-heeled male tourists to a series of private South Beach nightclubs set up solely to scam the men. At the establishments, with names like Stars Lounge and Tangia Club, the men were plied with booze and their credit cards charged thousands of dollars in unauthorized transactions.
Mikrukova and Rudaka entered the United States under a program that waives visas for certain countries. The two admitted in court that they lied on the application, saying they would not be working when in fact they were being paid by their handlers under the table to lure the men to the nightclubs.
Prosecutors allege that organized groups brought Mikrukova, Rudaka and other women to Miami Beach to work at the clubs. They were known as "Bar Girls," or B-Girls for short.
The women received 20 percent of the bar tab for each man they brought in, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gregorie told the judge.
The ring, according to prosecutors, was penetrated by a Miami Beach police officer pretending to be a corrupt cop helping the group.
Authorities said Mikrukova and another woman met a man identified as A.W. at the swank Club Molakai in February. Later, at the Tangia Club, the man got drunk and was charged $5,000 for drinks. His credit card company later told him that the nightclub tried unsuccessfully to charge him $16,000 in all.
As for Rudaka, agents say she took a man identified as A.W. to the Tangia, where he was charged $286 for a bottle of wine and a hookah pipe that no one had ordered.
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