Agents Raid Warehouse District Club

CLEVELAND – Action News had the only cameras rolling during a big bust in Cleveland's popular Warehouse District on Friday.

In a story that you could have only seen on Action News, agents raided a club that they said specialized in prostitution.

Business owners said that Hydra has been a sore spot for several months because it goes against everything they've been trying to do to better the area, Action News' Denise Strzelczyk reported.

On Friday, agents wrote one of the final chapters in an undercover sting operation when they busted through not one, but two doors at Hydra -- a strip club nestled in an upscale part of the Warehouse District. It's so off the beaten path, in fact, that not even some people who work nearby knew it was there.

"I am surprised," Warehouse District worker Dave Hlebcar said. "I think there are plenty of neighborhoods where you can go for that type of thing. I don't think it's consistent or fitting with the crowd you want to draw here."

Hydra owner Michael Tritola, Hashim Williams, Michelle Kucinich and April Bartley were in court on Friday to face the music for what police said happened behind the club's closed doors. All four were charged with promoting prostitution.

"For me to hear all that is really astonishing that that would go on in this neighborhood," said Christy Bell, who works nearby.

Business owners couldn't agree more. Many of them told Action News that once they discovered the strip club was there, they couldn't believe it stayed open. Others said that they had heard things about what went on there.

"You do hear about it, and what you hear about it is not good," Metropolitan Café worker Clifton Cravens said. "It's just a bad element to be in this area.

"Considering all the work that's been done in this area to make it a premiere place to go out, it's not good for business and it's not good for the city."

Hydra will remain closed until a judge decides whether a strip club can even operate in the immediate area. Meanwhile, the owner and the other three people that appeared in court on Friday are expected to be back in court again next week.