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 night of the beating, the beach bar pulsed with drunken euphoria. It was well past midnight on that cool December evening last year, a moment for celebration for two Canadians who ambled inside Dirty Blondes. One of the men, Erik Kormos, a yacht captain, had just gotten engaged to marry, so he and his friend Ernesto Palij, a chef, barhopped through this throbbing row of bars along A1A near its intersection with Las Olas Boulevard. Now, nestled into chairs around the bar, they ordered what would be the first of many drinks.
One hour melted into the next. Then, around 4 a.m., the two friends heard screaming and stepped outside to investigate. There, in an alley, two women — short skirts, messy hair, bloodied — thrashed at each other with nails and knuckled fists.
"Yo, man, do your job!" the 42-year-old Palij remembers yelling at a nearby bouncer standing at the melee's edge. "They're going to kill each other! Do something!"
The bouncer's fist struck Palij like an atomic bomb. Palij collapsed on the pavement, he says, his head narrowly missing a nearby railing. Several Dirty Blondes bouncers swarmed his crumpled form.
"No!" Kormos says he screamed, rushing forward to push one of the security men, who turned his glare upon Kormos' five-foot-nine frame. The yacht captain sprinted away. The bouncers abandoned Palij and took off after Kormos.
He didn't make it far, a police report shows. Just 20 yards north of the bar, near Las Olas Boulevard's end, Kormos tripped. Then, for the next 30 seconds to several minutes, the five bouncers worked him over, claims Kormos, 36. "The guy knocked me in the back of the head, and I went down unconscious. Then I woke up, and they were kicking me in the stomach, in the ribs, in the balls, in my head. Five guys on one. They just wanted to kill someone that night."
"Stay down!" one of the bouncers yelled, Kormos recalls. "The cops are coming for you!" But when Fort Lauderdale Police arrived 15 minutes later, the bouncers had scattered and Dirty Blondes was shuttered. Wanting to forget it ever happened, Kormos declined to press charges or file suit, and police investigation into the incident ended right there and then. "The cops," he says, "just brushed it off like this happens all the time."
Dirty Blondes, a Spartan beachfront bar populated by bikini-clad tourists and pool tables, has long been one of the most popular beach spots in South Florida. But in July, a countervailing narrative emerged after a violent video shot outside Dirty Blondes ignited outrage from Miami to London. In that 15-second clip, three bouncers attacked two men in a scene as animalistic as it was short. While a bouncer thrust one of the men, David Parker, into a headlock, another bouncer sucker-punched the second patron, Alex Coelho. He crashed to the beer-splattered pavement, where that same bouncer stomped on his head. The beaten men fled but returned soon to the bar, only to be cuffed. Arresting officer Mark DeCarlo, who works off-duty at nearby Exit 66, dispatched a report bereft of details involving the violence.
Dirty Blondes, hammered on social and local media, immediately went into crisis control. The bar deposited a hasty apology calling the assault an "isolated incident." And Fort Lauderdale Police spokesperson DeAnna Greenlaw called the video "disturbing" and urged Coelho to volunteer a statement.
But a New Times investigation has found that this altercation was anything but isolated and that when such assaults occur, local police have every incentive to protect the bouncers because of an undefined — and lucrative — off-duty policy. Taxpapers provide the cars, gasoline, uniforms, training, and guns that enable cops to take off-duty but uniformed freelance work at bars. But unlike some other local agencies, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department doesn't track how much money or what gifts cops haul in during this work. On the beach, some cops can make as much as $600 per week, one source estimates, and such cash can perhaps sway a cop's allegiances. Nine people who experienced or witnessed bouncers pummel patrons say responding cops either didn't reprimand the bar or filed a report that misrepresented events.
And all nine of those people saw it happen at bars owned by two Israeli-born men named AJ Yaari and Lior Avidor, who, in terms of sheer sweep, are perhaps the two most important men on Fort Lauderdale Beach. They own a king's swath of the beachfront: Dirty Blondes, Exit 66, Rock Bar, Sangria's Cafe, Spazio, St. Bart's Coffee, and the forthcoming Tsukuro. Since March 2009, according to police reports, county civil records, and dozens of interviews, security personnel at these establishments have beaten at least 21 patrons in 16 separate incidents. Excluding the now-infamous July incident, which slapped bouncer Arnald Thomas-Darrah with one count of felony assault, only one bouncer has faced charges, court records show.
"The bars own these cops, and that is all there is to it," explains a former high-ranking city official who requested anonymity. "Money talks. These bars buy protection like a Mafia operation. And if any violations come, they have their sentinel out there who's protecting them from the government."
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.