Times must be tough for South Beach hookers.
So tough, apparently, that theyve now taken to beating up their competition or at least thats what a vacationing South Jersey woman claims in a civil lawsuit filed against the lavish, four-star W Hotel, where she says a gang of high-priced escorts attacked her.
Anna Burgese, the petite wife of a wealthy suburban Philadelphia homebuilder, claims in the federal lawsuit that as many as 10 prostitutes pounced on her in the hotel lobby on Jan. 19. They mistakenly believed that she was encroaching on their turf, according to Miami Beach police.
Instead of helping Burgese catch the attackers, the suit contends that the prostitute-friendly hotel put the women in a taxi to facilitate their escape.
The W, owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is one of South Beachs most exclusive and trendiest hotels. Rooms range from $449 to more than $5,000 a night. A spokesman for the hotel chain had no comment, citing the pending litigation.
Prostitution has flourished since the first hotels and tourists arrived on Miami Beach. Wholesome, smartly dressed call girls were a staple in the legendary Poodle Lounge at the Fontainebleau hotel in the 1950s. But over the past decade, Miami Beachs prostitution rings have taken on a more sophisticated and sinister side, involving sex-trafficking and women from Eastern European countries, known as B-girls, who fleece deep-pocketed tourists.
Its just the nature of the beast. Youre going to have prostitution anywhere that you have money, Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said Monday of the escort trade, which is so notorious that the social media site Yelp even has a category for rating Miami hookers.
Burgese, 34, and her husband, Joseph Burgese, 50, of Medford, N.J., have been patrons of the hotel for years, visiting so often they keep their Rolls Royce parked there, according to their lawyer, Lance Rogers of Philadelphia.
Theyve spent thousands and thousands of dollars at this hotel, Rogers said. The couple is on a cruise off the coast of Italy and could not be reached.
In the suit, filed last week, Burgese claims that the assault was unprovoked and that the prostitutes threw her face-first against a stone wall in front of hotel employees. Her husband, who was on crutches, had been a few steps ahead of her when the attack began. He fought the women off with his crutches, Rogers said.
Miami Beach police apparently werent surprised, Rogers said.
They told her that the women were hookers who were likely drunk or on drugs and mistakenly thought Anna was a prostitute, the lawyer said.
Anna Burgese, who is 5-foot-1 and 105 pounds, was tackled to the ground, and suffered a scrape on her knee and a bloody lip, according to the Miami Beach police report. The report said that the hotels security escorted one or more of the culprits outside, where the women caught a cab. Burgese told police that she overheard a hotel employee say that he knew one of the women, but later claimed he could not identify her to investigators.
While there are several surveillance cameras in the hotels lobby, Hernandez said Monday that investigators did not view or obtain copies of the video because the case was classified as a simple assault, a crime that is typically not investigated.