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Dance scam defendant found guilty in drug trial

Robert Wayne Kipping, awaiting trial on charges of swindling elderly widows at Aragon World Dance Club, was convicted Tuesday of trafficking in synthetic heroin.

At the end of one day of testimony, the Pasco jury decided that Kipping, 32, agreed to purchase 50 tablets of Dilaudid from an undercover vice detective for $250 at the dance studio in December 1991.

Jurors listened to a secretly recorded tape of the transaction in which Kipping and the detective discussed money over the strains of big band music and an instructor calling out "Walk.

.

.

. Walk.

.

.

. Step."

"I think justice was served," Assistant State Attorney Rob Perry said about the verdict, which followed about 80 minutes of deliberation. Perry said the trial touched on many issues of the Aragon trials, which are set for July 12.

In those cases, Kipping and his brother, James Albert Kipping, and another partner, David B. Andrews, have been accused of using enticements, flattery and mind-control techniques to charge elderly widows more than $1-million total for dance lessons, according to sheriff's investigators.

The women also paid for elaborate travel club packages that either failed to materialize or were reduced to local sightseeing trips, investigators say.

Robert Kipping's court-appointed attorney, Sam Williams, said Tuesday that he is prepared to go to trial in the dance hall case next month. It's not clear if the other defense attorneys have completed their preparations, though.

Williams said he was disappointed by Tuesday's guilty verdict.

Kipping should receive between 4{ and 5{ years in state prison for the conviction, according to a tentative sentencing recommendation worksheet filled out by attorneys Tuesday. The charge carries a three-year minimum sentence. Kipping's sentencing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 6.

As he was led from the courtroom on his way to the county jail, Kipping declined to comment.

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