“Hustlers,” Jennifer Lopez’s new movie about strip club performers who raked in an untold fortune by drugging and fleecing wealthy men, is based on a true story involving a New Jersey cardiologist.

Zyad Younan, at the time a doctor at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center, made headlines in 2014 after Scores NY sued him for a $135,000 unpaid bill after making four visits in November 2013.

Younan refused to pay, claiming that he must have been drugged because he never would have agreed to spend that much. It was a claim that was widely mocked — and a story that cops had heard (and rolled their eyes at) many times before. The New York Post called him “a boob.”

“Within two weeks, he was here four times,” a club spokesman told the Post in 2014. “So if he was drugged the first time, I guess he liked it.”

But it turned out he was telling the truth. And as the movie — also starring Constance Wu, Cardi B and Julia Stiles — shows, he wasn’t the only victim.

Zyad Younan (Hackensack Meridian Health)
Zyad Younan (Hackensack Meridian Health)

The Holmdel physician’s name has been changed in the movie. And instead of a cardiologist, the character is an architect. But the gist is the same: After the 2008 recession, group of dancers — don’t dare call them “strippers" — realize they can make Louis Vuitton bags full of cash by “fishing” for wealthy Wall Street types at bars, luring them into the strip club, and maxing our their cards after drugging them with cocktails of MDMA and ketamine.

The women at first justify their scheme by rationalizing that their marks are wealthy Wall Street types whose money is "stolen" anyway. As the New Yorker profile, which became the foundation for the movie’s screenplay, reveals, the women's insatiable greed makes short work of that Robin Hood tale.

The women get away with this for so long because most of the men decide that filing a public police report and letting their wives or family find out what happened isn't worth it.

But Younan becomes part of the women’s eventual undoing. So was another man who managed to get one of the woman in a recorded phone call admitting that they had fleeced him after sprinkling some drugs in his drink.

Four women were charged with forgery, conspiracy, grand larceny, and assault. Samantha Barbash, who is the inspiration for J.Lo’s character, and Roselyn Keo, whose character is played by Wu, avoided prison after getting sentenced to probation in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Karina Pascucci, who had tricked Younan into thinking he was taking her on dates, and Marsi Rosen were sentenced to weekends in jail for four months in 2016 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and grand larceny.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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