And because no tale of South Florida sleaze is complete without a Scott Rothstein cameo, his firm dispatched lawyer Marc Nurik to defend Braun when she was charged in federal court with transporting a person across state lines to perpetuate "acts of prostitution" and profiting $15,000 from the transaction.

Braun went down without a fight, pleading guilty and forfeiting her celebrity contacts. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest in Boca Raton, where, according to court filings, her life soon imploded.

Her ex-husband launched a legal assault to gain custody of their daughters. "I have personal knowledge that she abused illegal drugs on numerous occasions including cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and whip-its," he said in a December 2009 affidavit. The madam had whip-its on her bedside table, marijuana in the fridge, and vaporizers and glass pipes on the kitchen table, he alleged. One night that August, he said, one of his daughters had called him "crying hysterically," saying Braun had "held her down and choked her." The court granted Fioravanti full custody, citing Braun's "lack of fitness" as a mother.

Michelle Braun in a 2011 mug shot.
Broward Sheriff's Office
Michelle Braun in a 2011 mug shot.

Worse yet, all of Braun's cash and possession were gone. In a 2010 financial statement, she said she was flat broke, unemployed, and $740,000 in debt.

Fioravanti was in similar shape. The recession had pummeled and ultimately killed his restaurants, he told New Times. He couldn't find work until 2012, when he snagged a job in Wilmington, North Carolina. By then, Braun had seemingly stabilized and won joint custody.

But, Fioravanti says, that stability was an illusion. Without warning, Braun took the kids to her mother's house in Bakersfield earlier this year, where court records show they had a difficult time in school — and she ignored Fioravanti's petition to relocate them to Wilmington. "She moves them all around California like pawns in some sort of sick game," Fioravanti said.

The kids weren't long for California. Braun and her children were soon hauled back to South Florida. In late March, the madam was again sentenced to house arrest for operating a Fort Lauderdale scam that sold nonexistent stocks, bringing the total number of criminal convictions to three. Fioravanti has no criminal record in Florida.

Just a few weeks ago, on behalf of her daughters, Braun sued Fioravanti in state court, accusing him of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. She claimed his incompetency had hastened the restaurants' collapse and cheated the children out of money.

When New Times informed Fioravanti that his own daughters were suing him, he couldn't believe it. "It's complete nonsense," he said. "She's hurting for money. My kids are my whole world; they always have been. This is despicable. But I'm not going to lower myself to making negative comments. You don't throw stones at a glass house."

Braun is similarly reticent. Reached on her cell phone for comment, she said only, "Do not call me again, seriously. Don't call me again."

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