More than two years after his “nightmare on South Beach,” former TV weatherman John Bolaris remains a little foggy about his close encounter with a couple of Latvian “Bar Girls” who swindled him for $43,000 in bogus booze charges billed to his AMEX card.
On Friday, Bolaris testified in Miami federal court that he didn’t have sex with them, though the thought crossed his mind after meeting the duo at the Delano Hotel in late March 2010. Bolaris, 55, was asked whether the B-girls suggested they go to his room at the Fontainebleau Hotel for a “threesome.”
“No, sir,” Bolaris told defense attorney Roderick Vereen. “In my right state of mind, I would not do that.” Vereen shot back: “What about in your intoxicated state of mind?”
Bolaris, who was fired last year from his job as a weatherman for FOX TV in Philadelphia, regaled a Miami jury with his tale of woe in the federal trial of four men who ran a ring of Russian-style clubs that fleeced Miami Beach tourists by deploying B-girls to seduce them.
The puppet master behind the alleged scam: admitted Russian mafioso Alec Simchuk, 46, a naturalized U.S. citizen who pleaded guilty to fraud and testified last month in the trial of his partners and associates.
In 2010, Miami Beach police and the FBI launched an undercover investigation into the B-girl network after Bolaris and other customers complained to their credit card companies about the outlandish bar tabs. A total of 18 defendants were charged in the fraud conspiracy.
Twelve defendants, mostly women, have since pleaded guilty and served short prison sentences.
On Friday, a bespectacled Bolaris, known as a man-about-town in Philadelphia who recently announced his engagement on the Howard Stern show, took the stand as the government’s most prominent victim of the B-girls.
Bolaris said he traveled to Miami Beach on March 26, 2010, with plans to meet up with a buddy who was also in the TV news business. But the friend was called to cover the NCAA Final Four, so Bolaris found himself alone on Miami Beach.
The following night, Bolaris said he went to dinner at the Delano Hotel, eating sushi and drinking a few glasses of his favorite wine, pinot grigio. He then sat down in the hotel’s Rose Bar for a few more glasses of wine. Nearby, a pair of B-girls were acting like tourists as they took pictures of each other. They struck up a conversation with him.
Bolaris described them as “very cutesy, like the girls next door ... the kind of girls you’d like to marry.” He paid for a round of wine, and later invited them to the Delano’s poolside bar, where he slipped a $50 bill to the bouncer to let them in. He bought another round of wine.
One of the B-girls started rubbing his shoulders from behind, while the other approached from the front to offer him a shot of liquor.
“Come on, do the shot,” she teased. Bolaris said, “No, no.”
But eventually he gave in and downed one.
During his testimony, federal prosecutor Richard Gregorie asked Bolaris if at that point he had the impression they were “hookers.” He emphatically said, “No.”
Gregorie further asked if he went to the Delano looking to have sex. He said he went there for sushi, “not for sex.”
Bolaris said he wanted to return to his room at the Fontainebleau, but the girls persuaded him to go to a purported art auction benefitting Haiti. They ended up at the Caviar Bar, a small, private club on Washington Avenue owned by Simchuk and his partner, Stanislav Pavlenko.