The Chef and the "Amigo"

A rape shines a harsh light on life at Palm Beach's oldest country club.

In 1959, wealthy Jewish people on the island founded their own club, the Palm Beach Country Club, and the social circles of the super-rich remained segregated for decades.

Today, Everglades members insist they're more welcoming to wealthy people of all stripes. Rush Limbaugh is a member, as is Palm Beach Town Council President David Rosow, who attends a Catholic church but had Russian Jewish grandparents. Still, because of the club's aura of secrecy, it's tough to know how far the Everglades has evolved. A list of the all-male board of directors is publicly available, but a full membership roster — which in 2008 included 953 people — is not.

To join the Everglades Club, a prospective member must be sponsored by two existing members. Then the nominee's name is posted inside so that if anyone objects, he can protest his or her membership by writing to the admissions committee. There's an application form that asks the prospective member's occupation and what other clubs he belongs to. On top of that, there are interviews and a trial membership period before a person can be admitted as a regular member.

Sewing machine heir Paris Singer built a hospital on Worth Avenue that later became the Everglades Club.
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology
Sewing machine heir Paris Singer built a hospital on Worth Avenue that later became the Everglades Club.
Esdras Cardona's mug shot.
Courtesy Florida Department of Corrections
Esdras Cardona's mug shot.

One longtime club member, who did not want his name printed, says that "there are a lot" of Jewish members but that they don't tout their religious affiliation. He says it's akin to U.S. military policy toward homosexual soldiers: Don't ask, don't tell.

"As far as the majority of the members are concerned, it's not an issue," he says.

The member says he doesn't recall any black people expressing interest in joining. (The island's population is only 2.4 percent black, according to U.S. Census data from 2000.) But if they ever did, "I would hope they'd be treated like anybody else," he says.

William Pannill, president of the Everglades Club, confirmed that no black person has ever been put up for membership. But he says he's brought black guests to the club. "In the last 16 to 17 years I've been involved, there hasn't been one incident of any Jewish guest or black guest being turned away from the club," Pannill says. "We have nothing against blacks; we have nothing against Jews."

Daily life on the club's campus, however, doesn't conjure visions of a charming melting pot. One former employee, who left the club this year, says the only time he saw a black person on the golf course was during the one day a year when employees were allowed to play. Another former employee explains that black workers are given jobs that do not require them to interact much with members, such as trimming trees.

Racial divisions are reinforced by the housing arrangements. During the tourist season, the club has 300 employees on its payroll, and about half of them live in free housing across Worth Avenue from the main campus. The dorms, by many accounts, are cramped and hot, with no central air conditioning. Communal bathrooms serve 30 or 40 people.

Employees are divided into the three buildings according to their job assignments, club human resources director Tami Hubbard explained in a court deposition. Their jobs also tend to divide them along racial and ethnic lines.

During Melissa's tenure at the club, chefs such as she were housed in one dorm. Waiters and waitresses, including a sizable population of young Romanian servers, lived in another building. A third building was occupied by all men — dishwashers, busboys, and valets — most of whom were Latino.

This division of labor isn't particularly strange for the restaurant business, but the hierarchy did have some peculiar manifestations at the Everglades Club. Melissa came from the world of private clubs and pedigreed training. She earned an associate's degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University and, after working as a pantry chef (responsible for cold dishes like salads) at the tony Fishers Island Club in New York, was recommended for a job at the Everglades. Meanwhile, Cardona was an undocumented immigrant whose job application didn't mention previous education or employment.

Melissa and her friends in the kitchen had to wear nametags on their uniforms, but the dishwashers, busboys, and valets did not. Hubbard explained in her deposition that this was because they didn't have much contact with members. But it also meant that, if the men didn't speak English, some of their coworkers in the kitchen never learned their names. Melissa and Jones both testified that they simply called the Latino workers "amigos."

"All the illegals, we would call them amigos," Jones said in a court deposition.

Melissa had experienced some awkward moments with her Latino coworkers. One afternoon, when she was getting dressed in her room after showering, she noticed a group of men sitting on a wall across the street looking up through her open window. "It made me uncomfortable," she later testified. (Responding to a phone message left at her parents' home, Melissa declined to be interviewed for this article.)

It happened a few times, Melissa said, so once, she waved to be sure the men were targeting her. When they waved back, she reported the problem to the head of housekeeping. After that, "I didn't see them out there anymore," Melissa testified.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
30 comments
abovethemall
abovethemall

"It is plesant, when the winds are high and dashing the waves about, to watch from the shore the struggles of another"

DDDuane
DDDuane

This sounds like a great club!!!You mean there is still a place that allows Freedom of Association for Whites?The girl is White...The defence should have been: "SHE RAPED THE POOR DEFENSELESS ILLEGAL ALIEN...."

It's really miraculous that the "poor but HONEST equadorian didn't knife herso she didn't report him....

Guest
Guest

Racist shithole and I would'nt spend a dime in a place like this

atosha
atosha

1.How did he get in her room?2.Why didn't she smack him round the head with the lamp shade?3.Rape is rape it has no colour.

Holy ghost
Holy ghost

Yeah, guy's a scuzz no danger. Where he needs to be now.

morgino
morgino

So my mom just fired her mexican maid for stealing....then today she called me because the mexican that she hired to paint her house was stealing my dead grandfathers shit out of her garage......yeah, they are just all hard working salt of the earth people

Scgoodegg
Scgoodegg

Wow. Anyone thiink of Who Killed a Mockingbird ? in this shit. What fucking racists. They're segregated and shit.. This is SUCH bullshit !

susan
susan

That girl is such a damn liar!!!! She probably stole the toothbrush out of that guys room and planted it in her room. Her and her boyfriend planned this bogus rape to sue the club and get money. Her attitude and statements during and following the alleged rape, is not sufficient to the way she acted afterwards. How does she going from calling him a sick fuck while he is raping her to lying in the fetal position crying????? What bullshit. Someone needs to help this innocent man get out of prison and file charges against her for filing a false police report and lying while under oath!!!!!

timm1955
timm1955

the problems with the illegal immigrants is going to come to a head soon. these people come from a DIFFERENT CULTURE. in mexico, rape isn't considered much of a crime. even rape of children. and this moron posting as viva la raza is an example of why they need to go. lying sob. hispanics come here not only to work, but a huge portion of them see coming here as a great opportunity to commit all manner of crimes and if caught, simply make a run for the border, get new i.d and come back in a year or so and start again. they have come to look at americans as gullible and naive. if an american went to a south american country and behaved in a similar manner, breaking numerous laws, they would find themselves in a prison with very inhumane conditions. these people are simply less civilized, and have come to realize that america is truly the land of opportunity. an opportunity to rape, rob, steal, and murder. get rid of ALL of them. "we only want to come here and work" my aching ass.. i hope you democrat super libs are ashamed.

KillAllSpicGarbage
KillAllSpicGarbage

Hispanics are the garbage remnants of the DNA chain. Kill 'em all, Let God sort 'em out. It's not o coincidence that feces and Hispanics are both bown colored. Filthy animals.

Leslie
Leslie

I find it ironic that statements decrying racism are being posted by someone with the username "Viva La Raza" or "Long Live the Race." Clearly the Everglades club is racist. But apparently you are, too.

Viva La Raza
Viva La Raza

Please continue to bring in the illegal immigrants! we are good people not criminals! only racist people accuse

Viva La Raza
Viva La Raza

Please keep hiring the illegal immigrants! we good for America! we not here to commit the crimes. only racist people accuse us!

Roxy
Roxy

It is sad how racial, classist, and sexist barrier stand in the way of justice.

NatTurner
NatTurner

What does a tootbrush with DNA prove if that brush came from his dorm after his arrest? One must assume that police have never ever in the history of America planted evidence...and the fact that the Club protected their reputation like it was prestine 1960 plantation leaves me to believe they would so anything to get this case solved an off the front pages. If the accused insist on more detailed DNA that he must pay for, I will always believe those test prove his innocense!

$10,000 a year per member and the club doesnt even pony up for the 40K test. This makes this case stink to high heaven. A man rots in a jail on circumstantial evidence!

Luba
Luba

The facts are all there: a toothbrush with DNA, a t-shirt, where-a-bouts not established, story changing and the victim's quick and easy identification. As far as the perpetrator's feverish devotion to his religion, used as a ploy of innocense by the his counsel, "religious addiction" comes to mind. As a licensed psychotherapist, that is also a Certified Multiple Addiction Professional, as well as a Certified Sexual Addiction Professional, various religions (especially Catholicism) have certainly seen the negative quality that Carl Jung spoke of, as the shadow/dark side of their leaders. The perpetrator's counsel would be doing this man, and society at large, a service in suggesting that he be placed in a treatment program during his prison term, which is, sadly, highly unlikely. Or to be mandated into treatment upon his release as a sex offender. And since his U.S. citizenship was not identified, deportation may be indicated. As far as the victim, my heart goes out to her! she can also be advised of available treatment. Sadly, many human beings suffer fom all types of traumas in their lifetime. Traumas, such as emotional, sexual and physical, are rampant, unfortunately. The good news is that there are some wonderful psychotherapists that are trained in trauma resolution and PTSD. A good professional would certainly be able to assist a "willing" person in their healing process to transform from victim to empowerment. There are many contemporary tools that are effective in treatment today, such as a "rapid eye movement" modality called EMDR. Finally, as far as "clubs," such as The Everglades in Palm Beach, being exposed for their "crimes to humanity," all I have to say is loud "hooray!!" That this is still exsists in our day and age is mind-blowing! However, sadly, I'm sure there are others that pepper cities in the U.S., as well as all over the world. Now that The Everglades Club in Palm Beach has been exposed as the home to the "faux-elite," I hope that other people in Palm Beach County will take note and stand for the truth. Ignorance breeds prejudice! Case Close. If anyone seeks consultation and/or treatment for any of the disorders that were mentioned, please email or call Luba: loveluba@netzero/#954-701-5822.

Rights4whites
Rights4whites

Why don't you go get fucked in the ass and try to defend yourself? Geez, if you live, you must be guilty...

NOLADarling
NOLADarling

@morgino Maybe you're mom should stop trying to hire people who have little options but to work for slave wages, while expecting them to not try to make up the difference elsewhere. I've hired people of all races to do work for me and find that you wind up paying the same amount one way or another so you might as well pay up front.

Keeley
Keeley

maybe theyre stealing because theyre poor or immoral not because theyre mexican

Belg1986
Belg1986

Your mom sounds like she has money... Maybe she should pay to educate you a little more, as you sound completely ignorant...  

Randy
Randy

"Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project, said he's not questioning whether Melissa was raped, just whether Cardona committed the crime."

You are a complete moron. No one connected with the investigation or the criminal trial doubts the woman was raped. Your ignorant and stupid ranting reflects why sexual assault is vastly under-reported and often difficult to prosecute.I practice criminal law and I've seen how rape victims behave after being raped- from within a few hours of the assault to months later when they testify in court. Just what knowledge and experience do you base your stupid, ignorant, bigoted lie upon?

Hello
Hello

SAME OLD WOMAN-HATING VICTIM-BLAMING BULLSHIT!!!! WHAT DID I EXPECT WHEN I READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT A WOMAN WHO WAS BRUTALIZED AND THE AUTHOR - TOTALLY PREDICTABLY!!!- TURNS IT INTO A SOB STORY ABOUT AN ILLEGAL ALIEN. FUCK ALL OF YOU.

liz2282
liz2282

Wow, the amount of ignorance in the bullshit you spewed all over this page is unbelievable! "Simply less civilized"?! You sound like fucking Hitler. Lastly, while trying to make a point on how supreme your race is, you might want to learn how to write and use correct grammar and spelling, because it's just showing how stupid you actually are.

liz2282
liz2282

"Remnant of the DNA chain"? That doesn't even make sense, you fucking idiot.

jrserna92
jrserna92

@KillAllSpicGarbage go fuck yourself stupid ass gringo. hijo de mil putas. eres una mierda. tell that to a hispanic in the face and see what happens fucking piece of shit.

Mas
Mas

 Your screen name says it all about you.

Belg1986
Belg1986

wow... I'm going to use part of your name to describe you: Garbage. You sound like the remnant of the DNA chain to me... How idiotic are you? What makes me even more disguisted by your stupid comment is that you have the nerve to use the word God... Jackass! 

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...