The Bova Prime lunch receipt tells the tale a lot better than the Fort Lauderdale investigative report.
Cigar man Moe Sohail was comped numerous alcoholic beverages by Scott Rothstein at Bova prior to a high-speed crash involving Sohail's Bentley. Driving the Bentley was Sohail's girlfriend, Sarah Merricks, who was also present at the lunch.
I obtained a copy of the receipt from the August 21 lunch and have confirmed its authenticity. Click on the link above to see a copy.
Shortly after what was a $350 lunch, the Bentley sped across Broward Boulevard on Third Avenue and slammed a high speed into a BMW driven by Danielle Filler, knocking the vehicle back 62 feet before it came to rest on the sidewalk. The BMW was totaled.
The rest is already part of Broward history: Sohail called his good friend Rothstein, who called his good friend, Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley, who arrived on the scene and stood next to Rothstein while his officers investigated the crash.
The officers failed to administer DUI tests on Merricks, who was out on bond at the time after being charged a year before with with DUI causing property damage and leaving the scene. In fact, she wasn't supposed to be driving for any reason but business purposes; police at least cited her for that. Filler, however, was cited for causing the crash by turning into the speeding Bentley (that citation was dismissed in court).
While the omission of DUI tests seemed strange to a lot of people, including JAABlog and myself, FLPD has defended its lack of action in staunch fashion. An investigation by the city's Office of Professional Standards closed the case, finding that the officers acted properly. From the final report: "Based on testimony of Police and Fire department personnel, there is no evidence they detected any signs of intoxication such as staggering, slurred speech, watery, bloodshot eyes, or a strong odor of alcohol. No witnesses saw the need for the detention or roadside sobriety testing."
Well, Sohail's lunch bill from just before the crash indicates otherwise. On Sohail's tab was an Absolut vodka on the rocks for
$10.38, a Chopin vodka for $11.32, an apple martini for $11.32, a $12 glass of wine, and a $196 bottle of 2480 Cabernet Sauvignon. The lunch lasted an hour and half, with the tab settled at 2:44 p.m., one hour before the crash.
Sources say that in addition to the alcohol on the tab, Rothstein himself was pouring the couple wine from a bottle at his table. Also eating with Sohail and Merricks was a local attorney.
With the $196 bottle of wine, the lunch came to a grand total of $349.02 -- and the receipt shows that it was 100 percent comped by Rothstein, or Scott, as he's referred to on the receipt. Sohail is represented on the receipt as "MO CIGARS."
Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Frank Sousa said the receipt -- which never surfaced in the police investigation -- will change nothing about the department's stance on the accident and its aftermath.
"There was no indication the day of that crash that anyone was intoxicated," he insisted. "It's a closed case. That receipt doesn't say that those two were drinking. We don't know who was at lunch with them. There is no way any police officer in this state would have known what they were drinking prior to the car accident."
Sousa also continued to defend the department's lack of action regarding several stacks of what appeared to be hundred-dollar bills in the Bentley that Sohail was seen stuffing into a white paper bag.
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"Nobody knows if it was that much money," said Sousa. "There was one stack with a hundred dollar bill on top. It doesn't mean it is all hundreds. For all we know, the other stacks might have been ones."
Thanks for the expert analysis there Frank. To be fair to the city, Sohail and Merricks were no help in the investigation; both refused to be interviewed by the city's Office of Professional Standards, which has no subpeona power. That might also explain that after the city did its best it still didn't have the receipt.
Attempts to contact Sohail at the cigar shop were unsuccessful. The receipt lends yet more credence to the infamous "goodfella" comment on this blog that is believed to have been written by Rothstein himself. In it, he wrote: "when your girlfriend should have been arrested for dui when she smashed your bentley rothstein came running to your rescue and saved you and her."
That was the first mention of the crash -- and interestingly Sohail told me that he believed it had to have been written by Rothstein. If Rothstein "saved' Sohail, it seems the chief played a key role in that, perhaps by his mere presence on the scene. That may have been all it took.