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."
Amid the red carpets and velvet, Braun discovered a particular skill. "It was the time of the dot-com explosion," says friend Danno Portley-Hanks, a Los Angeles private investigator. "All of these guys who'd never been with a beautiful woman in their life could all of a sudden go out there and bang whomever they wanted. One night, this dweeby dot-com millionaire told Braun he wanted to party with the [Playboy] Playmate of the Year.
"He said, 'I'll pay $100,000 to spend an evening with one.' So Michelle calls a Playmate she knows and says there's a guy who'll pay $50,000 to spend an evening with you." The girl says sure. So Braun goes back to the dot-com suit, Portley-Hanks remembers. "She tells him, 'She'll do it, but only for a quarter million.' And he pays it. In a single fucking night, she made $200,000."
Before age 24, Braun 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.