Kittens strip club set to pay out Comanchero bikies and end violent feud
The owner of a strip club called Kittens is negotiating a secret financial settlement with the outlaw Australian Comanchero motorcycle gang in a bid to resolve a violent two-year feud that has included a string of drive-by shootings and a fire bombing.
Several underworld sources have said that Jason Dimozantos, who owns two Kittens clubs in Melbourne, has directed a representative to pay off the bikie gang to stop the repeated attacks on his venues.
It is understood that attempts have also been made to find an independent mediator.
Comanchero national president Mick Murray is understood to want $261,000(A$250,000) to end the bitter vendetta, in a deal described by a senior police source as "obviously extortion".
Murray was spared a custodial sentence earlier this year, after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and committing an indictable offence while on bail.
He was granted bail after agreeing to stand down as Victorian president and not associate with other gang members.
At the time, his lawyer claimed that Murray wanted a quiet life and would focus on his legitimate business interests, which include a gym and a tattoo parlour.
But within months of avoiding jail, Murray was back with the gang and recently ascended to the rank of national president.
He remains the subject of a major enforcement action by the Australian Tax Office, after he was slapped with a tax bill of almost A$10 million in 2014.
The ATO is understood to have examined claims that Murray had significantly understated the income from his businesses, whilst also unable to account for some of his spending.
The Comanchero gang have waged a vicious battle against several venues owned by Dimozantos, following a dispute with the security firm employed at his venues.
The gang are suspected of ordering the shooting of security industry figure Clay Auimatagi, who worked at Kittens until February this year.
The South Melbourne strip club has been peppered with bullets on three different occasions over the past 18 months.
The most recent attack in May occurred during the middle of the day, when a masked gunman pumped three bullets into the facade of the building.
In February, another Kittens venue in Melbourne's Caulfield South was fire-bombed.
Another member of the Comanchero gang, who cannot be named, was charged over the arson attack and refused bail in June, when a magistrate ruled he was an unacceptable risk to the community.
At the time of the blaze, police confirmed they were investigating links between bikie gangs and Melbourne's security industry.
While not naming the Comanchero gang, Detective Inspector Ian Campbell from the anti-bikie Echo taskforce said one particular club had been responsible for standing over security companies in a bid to claim lucrative contracts.
"The security industry at this stage is troublesome," Inspector Campbell said.
"We have a number of persons associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs trying to muscle in on the industry and endeavouring to take a larger slice of the pie."
On Sunday, Dimozantos did not respond to request for comment.