Brothel bust in Boca bags big shots

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Al Kikuras, Jun 26, 2006.

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  1. Al Kikuras

    Al Kikuras

    By Jose Lambiet

    Palm Beach Post Columnist

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    In Boca Raton, where gossip is an art form, tongues have been wagging overtime about Monday's bust of a downtown brothel.

    Among the alleged johns are a community stalwart, a disgraced entrepreneur and a family values-supporting Republican operative.

    But the big question has been: How did Boca cops figure out the alleged customers' names?

    The city's boys in blue aren't talking, but their reports on the incidents are so precise that they mention the type of sex act and whether condoms were used.

    According to Mike Edmondson, State Attorney Barry Krischer's spokesman, cops secretly installed video cameras that taped from June 13-16 the sex-for-money at La Place, officially a lotion establishment at 7300 N. Federal Highway.

    This is how it worked: Cops observed men driving into the parking lot, then walking into the joint. From license tags, the officers called up on computer screens the driver licenses of the cars' owners, then matched instantly the license photos with the faces of the men allegedly having sex.

    So far, 25 of 42 men have been identified, and Edmondson said they should expect to receive misdemeanor prostitution summonses at home within two weeks.

    And that's bad news for moneybags philanthropist Jim Batmasian, one of the alleged customers. He is Boca's largest landlord with prime parcels worth more than $24 million, according to records. And even worse news for his higher-profile socialite wife, Marta. She's on the board of 17 local charities and the chairwoman of the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.

    Jim already has lawyered up and said he chose big-deal defense attorney Richard Lubin. Lubin, who usually handles murder or assault cases, didn't return a call for comment.

    "I have a wife and two kids," Batmasian said. "I'm under strict instructions not to say anything."

    Also expected to be summoned to court: jeweler Scott King, who owns King Jewelers in Miami and is a recipient of the National Republican Congressional Committee's leadership award.

    "It's a case of mistaken identity," King said.

    Jason Ruppert is also on the list. Some may remember him as the 20-something Boca investment wunderkind who in 1995 was sentenced to a year in a federal lockup when he and his dad offered $1.8 million in investments in nonexistent radio stations.

    "Can't be me," Ruppert said. "I've been in New York since June 11."