For the better part of a year, traffic ticket king Mark Gold has been embroiled in a hotly contested lawsuit against a popular downtown Miami strip club, accusing Goldrush of plying him with so much alcohol that he became drunk and partially unconscious and then charging his credit card $19,000.
Now the owner of the Ticket Clinic has filed an amended complaint against Goldrush and its owner, controversial strip club impresario Jack Galardi, that accuses the club of spiking targeted customers’ drinks with anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, secretly photographing customers signing credit card receipts to fight potential disputes and defrauding customers of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period. The complaint also claims the scheme extends to two other Galardi clubs in the Miami area, King of Diamonds and the Pink Pony.
The suit accuses club staffers, under the direction of management, of stealing watches and jewelry from semi-conscious victims and attempting to sell the articles back to them later.
The new complaint filed Friday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleges Goldrush engaged in a scheme that began with staff “sizing up” clients and picking well-to-do, married professionals who “would likely care about their public reputation, are from out of town or who appear intoxicated.”
The suit does not name any other plaintiffs besides Gold. However, the club is known to cater to well-heeled professionals and athletes.
Goldrush is owned by Galardi, who owns 68 strip clubs in Las Vegas, Atlanta and other cities nationally. Tampa police raided clubs owned by Galardi after allegedly warning him several times about prostitution in the club, according to published reports.
“I always knew this wasn’t an isolated incident and when the truth came out I would be vindicated,” Gold said. “I’ve gotten many, many calls from other gentlemen who were also victimized and thanked me for having the courage to come forward.”
The 49-page complaint adds numerous counts, including battery and assault, deceptive and unfair trade practices act, fraud, conversion, civil theft, unjust enrichment, infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Galardi’s attorney, Gerald Tobin of Miami, did not return phone calls or emails for comment by deadline. However, the case has been hotly litigated with Tobin requesting sanctions against Gold and his attorney, Gary Farmer of Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman in Fort Lauderdale.
The amended complaint was filed after Farmer’s discovery turned up two years worth of credit card receipts from the Goldrush. Although the complaint contains the allegation, it does not cite any specific evidence of drinks being laced with drugs.
According to the complaint, once a client was targeted, one or two strippers would take a drink order and use a hidden camera to photograph the patron as he signed the credit card receipt. The customer would sometimes provide a thumbprint while signing.
At that point, the suit said the stripper would invite the customer to the VIP room for a lap dance while a staffer would bring him his drink containing crushed pills, either Xanax or another benzodiazepine.
After clients were drugged, the complaint claims, staff would charge their credit cards the largest amount possible without the credit card issuers having to speak to the customer to authorize the charge.
Strippers were instructed to keep clients in the VIP room as long as possible and were paid $1,000 per hour for every hour they kept them there, according to the complaint.
“Oftentimes the target customer is unconscious or semi-conscious because of the drug, and if friends of the ‘target’ request to speak with their victim friend or retrieve him from the VIP room, the bouncers or other Goldrush staff simply tell them that they are forbidden from contacting their friend,” the complaint alleges.
Staffers forged customers’ signatures on credit card receipts or coerced them to sign in a semi-conscious state, the complaint claims. Strippers or staff who balked at the scheme were threatened with firing or fired, the complaint alleges.
A customer would typically discover high charges several days later. Few would fight the charges to avoid the embarrassment of being associated with a strip club, states the suit.
To defend against any billing dispute, the club would prepare a package including photographs showing customers signing invoices and fingerprints. As a result, credit card companies would almost always reject billing challenges, states the complaint.
Gold’s original suit was prompted by a visit to the club Nov. 27, 2010. He said his Citicard was charged five times in the amounts of $400, $4,959, $4,950, $2,962 and $5,650. Gold insists he was semi-conscious and believes the credit card signatures were forged, according to the complaint.
He disputed the charges, and Goldrush sent photographs to his credit company of “plaintiff allegedly signing something” along with sales drafts that appear to be forged, he claims.