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
The sometimes-shocking stories of violence, not to mention their number, lay bare a little-recognized problem in one of the nation's most iconic beach spots.
"What you saw in that video happens every day," one current Dirty Blondes bouncer remarked. "That one was just caught on video."
On February 25 this year, a slight, somewhat taciturn New Yorker named Joe Viscomi had just landed in Fort Lauderdale for a wedding when he took a walk down A1A. On that cloudless night, he'd expected to find a bunch of college kids having a good time. Instead, in front of Dirty Blondes, he spotted a bouncer, whom he later described as an "enraged animal," deliver a devastating punch to a scrawny 21-year-old.
Another witness recalled that the bouncer kicked the young man in the side of the head, according to a police report. The youth, David Harris (who couldn't be reached for comment for this article) stood and stumbled away. The bouncer, a 250-pound redheaded juggernaut named Albert Wareham, lumbered after him.
"Then all of a sudden," Viscomi remembers now, "the kid's getting four more blows to the head and his face is getting all distorted and he's screaming." During the scrum, a police report says, the young man's phone fell out of his pocket, and the bouncer stomped on it.
Just then, Viscomi says, a cop approached the scene to confront Wareham. The officer analyzed the youth's battered face, then swiveled his gaze to look at the bouncer. "This time," Viscomi heard the cop admonishing Wareham, "you've gone too far."
Wareham, who was charged with simple battery, initially denied striking Harris to police, claiming he saw the younger man try to use drugs in the restroom. He later admitted he punched Harris because he felt "threatened" and then chased after him because "he didn't know if he had a weapon," the incident report says.
Viscomi, 63 and a resident of upstate New York, expressed bewilderment last month that cops charged Wareham with only one offense. "One charge?" he gasped. "This was first-degree assault in my opinion. There were two witnesses who saw the whole thing, and no one has contacted me from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department since. They acted like they wanted to protect the bouncers. I mean, this kid was defenseless. He was beat up for sport."
A similar refrain often emerged among the 16 incidents of bouncer-inflicted violence that New Times discovered in part through an analysis of 37 assault or battery police reports at the establishments since 2009. (Neighboring Elbo Room, meanwhile, was the site of 13 batteries, two aggravated assaults, and one attempted murder during that time, though a delay in obtaining police records made it impossible to determine how many of those incidents involved bouncers.) Indeed, perhaps the most striking aspect of these examples is their similarity. According to 11 police reports, three civil suits, and two additional altercations corroborated by multiple witnesses, it goes down like this: A patron does something to vex a bouncer, like flashing a pocket light, flirting with a bartender, clandestinely filling a glass from a soda gun. In other cases, the patron claims to have done nothing at all. Then, without warning, bouncers attack the reveler. Sometimes, the victim is left with a few bruises. Sometimes, substantially more.
On August 28, 2010, a raven-haired Joshua Wright was about to leave Exit 66, a cavernous nightclub that has a capacity of 1,200, when his friend went to use the bathroom. When the friend emerged, Wright cast a key-chain laser light on his friend when a bouncer referred to only as "Josh" in a pending lawsuit Wright filed in Broward County slammed Wright with a fist. Court documents show the bouncer "mistook" the flashlight for a gun. After Wright fell to the ground, another bouncer kicked him, Wright says. The medical fallout was immense: four broken ribs, a fractured eye orbital, eight stitches, and two back surgeries to mend a herniated and ruptured disc in his lower back. (Exit 66 disputes Wright's allegations.)
"My friend was standing a few feet away and witnessed all of it, but the police on private duty seemed to know the bouncers," Wright tells New Times. "He didn't mention anything about pressing criminal charges against 'Josh' or the bouncer who kicked me."
Next door and more than a year later at Rock Bar, barrel-chested 38-year-old boat salesman Brian Hoynowski sauntered inside wearing slacks and a button-down he'd bought at Tommy Bahama. It was near 11 p.m. on October 25, 2011, and Hoynowski had arrived that afternoon for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show the next day. If he played it right, he'd fly home to Orange Beach, Alabama, with tens of thousands of dollars. He was thinking about the potential money at stake when he went hunting for the bathroom at Rock Bar.
"If you want to piss here, you have to order a drink," Hoynowski remembers a bouncer telling him.
"What the fuck are you talking about, man?" Hoynowski replied, laughing.
"So I turned my head to walk out, and the next thing I knew I was clocked," Hoynowski remembers. "Freaking clocked. One of the bouncers grabbed my arms, and another one got three punches in on me. I fell to the ground, and three of them started kicking me in the head, the ribs. They broke my ribs. I needed six stitches above my eye, and I have permanent scarring."
Eh, this is nothing new. This goes on everywhere, probably as far back since the beginning of drinking establishments. Cops tend to side with bouncers because they are the "unofficial" peace keeper of the establishment, and its' their word against someone who's been consuming alcohol. The same crap goes on in Washington D.C., where I am from.
MICHAEL J SATZ GET A GRIP ON YOUR COUNTY. JAILING CRACKHEADS AND LETTING THIS GO ON IS CRIMINAL. MORALLY BANKRUPT
What's the point of mentioning that the asshole owners are Israeli so many times in one story? I don't see the relevance.
Sounds like they need to ban Police Officers from moonlighting for a while. Luckily, there are so many cameras now the truth will come out.
I think if you are hit you sue, then sue more. Sue everyone and every entity. Make it not worth their while to continue behaving like this.
Hey Frank Adderly. , do your job. Clean this shit up and terminate the goons. SAO do your job and bust these "businessmen".
You act like this only happens when cops work as bouncers at bars, NOT. This is common behavior for many if not most police officers, they simply cannot handle the power and trust that has been misplaced in their hands. Sadly the type of person that becomes a cop is exactly the kind person that should not be a cop. They are not so tough one on one but as soon as the cuffs are on or back-up shows up so does macho behavior. Then you put three or four off-duty officers in a bar to throw out drunk patrons and that same behavior goes on with even more impunity because their fellow officers that do the same off-duty bouncing are doing the investigations of any accusations of misbehavior or beatings involving patrons of the bar. Cops snitch on everybody but cops. I can't believe any body is surprised at this incident. We hear about it all the time but nobody wants to believe that cops will behave like this so when they say they didn't do it too often it just goes away. If you ask yourself what kind of people want to be cops and bouncers your actually left with an ugly answer, and the answer is people who like to be in violent situations especially when they can get away with it.
This is very simple. Do not patronize Dirty Blondes, Exit 66, Rock Bar, Sangria's Cafe, Spazio, St. Bart's Coffee, and the forthcoming Tsukuro. This is a great job by New Times finding out that these scumbags were paying cash for off-duty FLPD to work security. As a Lauderdale resident for 10 years, I'd been to these places a hand full of times. I stopped patronizing those bars after witnessing several fights and ass-kickings by the bouncers just like the video from July. Of course, the FLPD turned a blind eye during those altercations and now we know why! I've made a point to tell all of my friends that visit as tourists to avoid those places at all cost, and I suggest you do the same. Fort Lauderdale beach can and should be so much nicer than it is today. Hopefully the surrounding businesses will put enough pressure on city commissioners and force these lowlifes off the beach.
There is a simple solution....everyone stop patronizing the places and they will be out of business. If your really motivated, get some people together and go picket the places (let the tourists know too). Personally, I don't give these dirtbags my money.....the bouncers attitude....its like trying to communicate with a gorilla. Just when you think they get it...YOU must realize they are just gorillas.....
"Money talks"... Interesting words coming from New Times. How much money has this circular made from the countless Pain Clinic advertisements that used to litter the back three pages... This is not a little known fact about this publication. CBS News mentioned this fact during a news story that aired nationwide during the CBS Evening News.
Great article. Hopefully if this issue gets enough play it will shame the FTL City Commission or Mayor Seiler to do something about this unacceptable behavior of the FTL Police force...looking the other way when this shit happens. Disgraceful. Not good press for the beach yo.
...........................my guess is once the cascade of finacial and legal troubles overcome those BOUNCERs on the video that were arrested and fired as UNEMPLOYABLE and become persona non grata = one or ALL of those will roll = then we will learn of who is protecting whom from behind the wizard of oz curtain
..................................so why didn't KORNOS and PALIJI file civil lawsuits for damages ?
i suppose they thought they would be "fighting city hall" or else were here on a temporary sojourn, one being a yacht captain, and could not attend to FINISH something once it started
ALL it will take at this point is ONE COP to fall and there goes the department a la rothstein
mark DeCarlo and deanna Greenlaw are the weakest LINKs in this chain since apparently the arresting officer was already pushed to drop all charges originally filed against the patrons since that arrest was deemed BOGUS and the department spokeswoman may be liable for CLAWBACK of any jewelry from the bankruptcy estate of rothstein = so the screws could be tightened against either of these two
hang out with unsavory and uncivilized characters who have no ethics and morals in business or personally , and sooner or later something is going to be exposed, and the potential for an avalanche of civil lawsuits could be the source
Only been to the area once. THANKFULLY I wasn't beaten half to death by these thugs. I will however say the bouncers at dirty blondes were total dicks to me and my brother. The bar tenders were just as miserable. The piss poor attitudes of all involved made us go elsewhere. Like the one victim in the article I had some meat head tell me the bathroom was only for customers and I needed to buy a drink.
After reading this article boy am I glad we did leave that place!! I tuly hope each and everyone of these brainless petty thugs gets what they deserve.
you all must really hate this particular bar because there's never completely blacked out bar patrons that start anything. they all just come in, order their tequila, tip well, and take a cab home.
..................................it's just that this garbage should carry on down a back alley on a bowery street somewhere else where the crooked cops could be greased and the wild savages called bouncers could smash whomever dared go there as patrons - the BEACH SHOULD BE intended and available for the quiet enjoyment of ALL civilized citizen
what do we say if some innocent unsuspecting bystander gets killed by a stray bullet fired off ?
@cpw10025 I do.
...................................ON DUTY police fired 106 shots into a single car on URBAN WEEK some years ago in south beach and leading with your own jaw to sue sounds dumb
there are going to be neaderthals in bars who get crazy and go wild like savages both patrons and bouncers and cops on the take to protect the bar operations JUST WHY DOES it have to be on the BEACH which should be available and accessable to ALL civilized citizens and visitors to quietly enjoy - let these bars go down to some bowery location where the buffoons who act like animals and crooked cops can bash each other withOUT effecting the civilized public at large
.....................well i agree that once ONE cop rolls it will be dominos falling down and with three BOUNCERs already UNemployable, an engagement ring that will be clawed back to the estate of rothstein now on the hand of a police "spokesperson" married to a sargent, a currently employed BOUNCER going into trial next week for aggrivated battery, a botched and yet to be made public "police investigation" that led to two patrons being initially arrested and then all charges were dropped, and then afterwards, more funny charges were again filed and again dropped, a litany of stories similar to the video, a public prosecutor weighing in against the status quo, a mayor saying everything will be alright, a BEACH that is now the ft liquordale BOWERY for its brutality, crooked cops bilking the bar operators and lawsuits GALORE pending and the band played on...........i guess south florida will forever be sunny skies and shady people = period
..........................i still go to ST BARTs because i cannot get an oatmeal with bananas and walnuts and cranberries and cinnamon sugar AND the beach view for $6 anywhere else in the morning - as for all those other places i find them dirty and smelly and expensive tourist traps anyway
@jward01 and your rant has what to do with this article and the disgusting behavior of cops and bouncers?
................................what WILL change behavior is the potential UNINTENDED consequences of that VIDEO and the scrutiny it is bringing, such as the POLICE DEPT sergeant having to turn-over that engagement ring pursuant to a court order if it is determined it was purchased with rothstein PONZI scam funds, or even the same sergeant purjuring himself as to the true source of the proceeds to purchase the engagement ring, or the bar operators pursued for fraud in the documents to obtain insurance coverage, or any large financial civil settlement(s) awarded to the patron(s) who successfully sue for damages, or hopefully not, someone as an unsuspecting visiting tourist accidentally and unfortunately getting hurt or killed as a result of savage animal fighting spillover, maybe even gunshots, resulting from an episode either from cops or patrons or bouncers or ALL of them fighting - do NOT, however, expect any government official(s) or city or county commissioner(s), or police dept brass to PUBLICLY admit culpability, or even agree there is a problem here
...........................VOLTRADE, its not that most of us really care that over-served drunks get beat up by bouncers while crooked cops on the take stand by to protect the operations.....its just that this stuff should be taken down into some alley way or bowery street location, AND NOT right there on the BEACH, which should be accessable to all CIVILIZED people who are today scared away by these wild animal savages and immoral and unethical operators the crooked police protect - same as if the crooked cops protected drug dealers and crackheads operating in a public park which becomes "closed off" to the civilized citizens among us.................. AND someday, and it might be soon, SHOTS will be fired and probably kill some innocent bystander (SEE URBAN WEEK on south beach) ......and then what ? do we simply say "i'm sorry" to some unsuspecting european tourist who accidentally gets shot dead ? or say "i'm sorry" to a parent of a little kid across the street on the sand ?
we DO NOT HATE the bar and the sewer trash it operates in and among, we just HATE THAT it is on a prime public location intended for all peaceful people to quitely enjoy withOUT fear
@voltrade I've lived near that bar for 8 years and have personally watched a female friend of mine get elbowed in the face for no reason only to be berated by cops for complaining. The article is accurate. I don't hate the bar, but I hate the way the bouncers and cops gang up on patrons (Exit 66, Blondies, etc.)
@BReasonable ISRAELI stupid. Don't you have spell check?
Well I can see from your response to my post (and your other posts) that you already know the "truth" here and in your eyes we could all learn something valuable from you.
To address your question, my comment has plenty to do with this article, in fact it addresses a bigger picture: This publication is itself a business. The "business objective" of this story was to compel as many people as possible to pickup the paper and read it.
- Not because this article is the most accurate account on the subject
- Not because reading this "journalist's" account of the events surrounding this story will start a true and honest discussion on the issues at hand
- (most certainly) not because anyone that works for this paper actually gives a damn about any of the alleged victims who's accounts were contained herein
- Not for any greater good whatsoever.
Don't be fooled. The reason this story was printed is all about MONEY. Selling advertising.
Its not like there's a bazillion pain clinics in town lining up to pay $1500 each for an ad at the back of the New Times - well at least not anymore.
My point all along is that for the New Times to use the terms "money talks" to describe the basis for all alleged action/inaction of the police officers that responded to these incidents is illusory.
And to top that point - Where's the other side of the story here?
Why no interviews with any of the parties on the other side of the issues here (police, bouncers, bar owners, anyone that is not currently involved in active litigation with the owners of these establishments)?
I actually have a degree in journalism, unlike most of those posting comments here, and quite likely the writer of this article. My point is not to draw a contrast here between myself and others, but to make the point that I have more than just a casual understanding of what drives the publishing of a sensational article, such as the one here.
Would you see such a blatant slant to this story if it was printed on the pages of the Sun-Sentinel or The Herald? No.
Would you see the term Israeli used over and over again had this been printed in the Sun-Sentinel or The Herald? No.
Could the writer of this story even qualify to be a reporter for either of the local news papers in South Florida? No. I have a feeling that my journalism professors would likely have publicly made an example of a student who wrote such a biased piece.
And for good reason. This article doesn't even attempt to tell the whole story, it tells the side of the story that people get excited about.
Sensationalism. Pure and Simple.
@jward01 Anti semitic? Who is Jew bashing?
@BReasonable I agree with you that these men are trashy. Tell me, do you think all Israelis are trash and since 80% is Jewish do you think all Jews are trash? I'm just feeling out your level of tolerance.