By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Standing there beneath the palm trees in the sprawling parking lot was a darkly handsome man with thick, meaty hands named David Fioravanti. Behind the blond, Fioravanti saw a 7-year-old blond girl appear.
"Daddy?" she said.
But before Fioravanti could grab her, the woman went apoplectic. "Tell me your father beats you!" shrieked the 31-year-old Michelle Braun. "Does he beat you? Tell me he beats you!"
Then Braun reached for the nearest weapon: a wooden spoon. "I am going to take you to court, motherfucker!" she shrilled, weeping and hysterical, running after her ex-husband and waving the spoon. "I'm going to win custody!"
As told in court records, this is the hitherto-untold epilogue to the story of the California madam who replaced Heidi Fleiss and once ensured that Tiger Woods, Mickey Rourke, and Charlie Sheen got laid. For more than four years, her backroom antics roiled Hollywood. She schmoozed Turkish oligarchs, socialized with stars, and netted fawning features in Details and Rolling Stone until her 2009 federal conviction for transporting prostitutes.
According to court records and police reports, her life has devolved into a series of bounced checks, unemployment, stocks schemes, alleged drug abuse, and a bitter custody battle culminating in a lawsuit she filed in Palm Beach court last month against Fioravanti. Hers is the story of a meteoric flash rising from the desert sands of Bakersfield, California, and shooting overseas before crashing back to Earth and burning out in Boca Raton.
Since her arrival here, the local casualties have been legion: a battered Rolls-Royce, a stiffed furniture store, bewildered investors, and a pair of daughters she's taken along on her bizarre journey. "All of the problems are related to my ex-husband," the now-35-year-old explains to New Times in a baritone timbre. "I'm protective of my kids; I'm a mother."
Long before she met Fioravanti, while growing up as a privileged Jewish kid in oil-rich Bakersfield, California, she tooled around in a purple Chevy truck emblazoned with pink flames. In the 1990s, with an impossibly tall and voluptuous figure, she headed west to Los Angeles, where she met her future husband, then a young band manager with sharp, masculine features. They plunged into the glitzy nightlife and didn't look back. "When I first met my wife," Fioravanti recalled, "she was very different than she is now."
Before age 24, Braun had assumed the identity of Nici — leader of a clandestine cadre of high-end prostitutes, porn stars, and playmates called "Nici's Girls." The business model was simple. The hotter the women, the richer the men.
And in an industry that hinges on discretion, Braun was all bombast. First she spilled the goods on Sheen. "What did he want?" she told Vanity Fair. "Two tits, a hole, and a heartbeat." Next was Tiger Woods. "Tiger was just a horndog," Braun said.
Braun soon built five houses worth $18 million. But there were problems. In 2000 and again in 2002, Braun gave birth to a girl, whom she later told she was a travel agent. Then she allotted Fioravanti a $250,000 "nanny salary" and paid for him to open two Johnny Rockets restaurants in Palm Beach Gardens and Daytona Beach, according to her recent lawsuit. (Parries Fioravanti: "That's 100 percent false.")
In 2006, they divorced in Broward County. In the fallout, there were flings with disc jockeys and trust-fund kids and high-value houses in Boca Raton from Aurelia Street to Northway Circle. In October 2007, the FBI stormed her two-story, $825,000 home on Aurelia and found cocaine and marijuana in her bedroom. "It's not mine," said a quivering Braun, who was later charged with felony possession. (The charge was dropped in 2009.) "I hang out with the wrong people."
A year afterward, she crashed a boyfriend's 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and dialed the Bentley Specialist, a shop on Second Avenue in Boca, which repaired the sedan for $11,330. Braun showed up days later and handed them a check — which turned out to be worthless, according to a police report. Grand-theft charges were later dropped because prosecutors couldn't show criminal intent. "Still, she never paid me back," says the shop's owner, Marcus Turek. "Apparently the money had been in her account, but she wouldn't pay me. I got stiffed for $10,000."
It got worse. One April afternoon in 2009, she swept into a Chase Bank in Boca and deposited a check for $3,000, which police say was returned for "insufficient funds." She also failed to pay $550 to American Relocation Consultants, an Oakland Park company that moved and stored her belongings, according to court filings. And she sued to recover a half-million dollars' worth of possessions including Jesse of Italy Regolo furniture and an Olivia de Berardinis silk stocking lithograph — "priceless" because "it was a gift from Charlie Sheen," according to court records.
There were more furniture problems. According to a Palm Beach County lawsuit, she stiffed Sklar Furnishings of Boca Raton on a $16,553 bill. She tried to pay it with her American Express card, but the plastic was declined. (A default judgment was entered against Braun in late 2011.) "We don't deal with Ms. Braun anymore for obvious reasons," says a Sklar spokesperson who declined to give her name.