Gingerbread Man

Broward’s most notorious inventor and accused pimp rakes in a big take — from behind bars

But the Dutchman continued to fight back with a flurry of lawsuits. He sued Broward County, the detectives involved in his case, and the landlords who evicted him. He sued the cities of Oakland Park and Pompano Beach and various police officers, claiming his civil rights had been violated. Then he targeted Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro. And when New Times published a story about him ("The Sex Empire Strikes Back," July 17, 1999), Vanmoor sued the newspaper, complaining about, among other things, an erroneous line stating he'd been charged with "procuring a person under 16 for prostitution." New Times ran a retraction acknowledging that the charge related to a person under 18 and asked the court to toss the suit, and the escort company owner dropped it. All of the other suits were either dismissed or eventually dropped as well.

In October 1999, Vanmoor told Sun-Sentinel reporter Jose Lambiet that he'd spent more than $5,000 on a private investigator and turned him loose on Margolis. The results were hardly earth-shattering, though the investigation poked around the detective's past so deeply that it uncovered a job application at the Flaming Pit restaurant in Pompano Beach from 1980, three years before Margolis joined the force. Vanmoor claimed Margolis had lied about being an assistant manager when he was -- a-ha! -- merely a busboy. The Dutchman's private dick also tracked down Margolis' ex-wife in Maryland, where she testified that he'd been a cheating louse. Vanmoor handed over this "evidence" to the Broward State Attorney's office and used it as part of a civil lawsuit against Margolis that he filed in March of 1999. Most of the accusations appeared to be thinly veiled character-assassination attempts, and the state's attorney's office declined to investigate further. But the civil case against Margolis is ongoing; it will be heard in Broward County Court in March.

Colby Katz
At top is one of his pads. Even in jail, Arthur Vanmoor (below left) is inventive.
At top is one of his pads. Even in jail, Arthur Vanmoor (below left) is inventive.

After escaping the most serious charges against him, Vanmoor went back to earning a living. Using new names like Budget Escorts and All You Can Eat Escorts, by the end of 2000, he had opened a new office and hired new girls, police say. Fort Lauderdale Detective William Spodnick alleged Vanmoor was operating more than 300 escort agencies of various names under the umbrella of a corporation called Florence Dating Service. He even began publishing a magazine called Xotic. Police say this uplifting publication allowed Vanmoor to bypass others that wouldn't accept his ads, which were sometimes too racy even for glossy sex magazines available at strip clubs and adult video stores. In particular, says one police affidavit, a rival magazine, Xcitement, refused to publish Vanmoor's ads, which, for example, featured photographs of a nude girl with a splash over her vagina crowing "EAT THIS."

A corporation registered in September 2000 to Vanmoor called Centennial Media published the magazine, and two of the contributors listed in the masthead were Arthur Vanmoor and Sidney Fleischman. After police called some of the numbers listed in Xotic in early 2001, as well as escort want ads in the Sun-Sentinel, they were again back on Vanmoor's trail.

Vanmoor's talents are hardly limited to his alleged pimping. He also makes a mean male chastity belt. United States Patent Number 5,845,642, "Safe Sex Assurance Device," is his baby. Accompanied by a wince-inducing diagram, the gadget is to be "worn as an undergarment which cannot be removed without destroying the device. The device is worn in order to guarantee that the wearer has been sexually faithful to one's partner," according to an abstract filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office via the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Laurence Greenberg. Also including a handy-dandy "testicle retaining ring," the contraption, patented in 1997, is part of a roster of 52 Vanmoor innovations such as a hangover remedy, escalator guardrails, and a rotary engine. None of the schematics for those inventions can hold a candle to old number 5,845,642, however.

"Can you spell genius?" asks Fort Lauderdale patent attorney Werner Steemer, who works in Greenberg's office, acknowledging that Vanmoor's smarts have "possibly driven him into the easy money, as it were. Genius gets on everybody's nerves, and society often takes affront to the new ways a genius can think."

Back in 1996, the brainy Dutchman was issued a U.S. patent on a "Caulking Gun and Cartridge with Afterflow Prevention." This was novel, according to the inventor's abstract submitted with the design, because there was no messy, post-plunging seepage.

In July 1997, Vanmoor began pursuing legal action against manufacturers such as Sonoco and retailers like Wal-Mart, Builder's Square, and Home Depot, claiming they'd ripped off his spooge-free caulk-gun idea. In early 2000, a federal appeals court ruled that Vanmoor's trade secrets had not been violated when the retailers sold the caulking apparatus under names like Glidden's "Liquid Nails" and DAP's "Alex Plus."

"Mr. Vanmoor believed -- and still believes -- that they infringed on his patent," Steemer says. "Unfortunately, the courts disagreed, probably because of his illustrious other career. Who would want to decide on behalf of Mr. Vanmoor, escort owner, as opposed to Wal-Mart and Sonoco? I do believe that justice is blind in many respects, but in this case, it may have had a bearing."

Steemer says he's enjoyed working with Vanmoor but adds: "I wish he didn't do some of the things he does. But I certainly had a completely professional relationship with Arthur Vanmoor. Every time he came to my office, he always wore a nice shirt and nice jacket and behaved very businesslike."

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