Miami Beach

Business feud heats up after one is jailed — for stealing other’s soiled towels

A South Beach quarrel between neighboring business owners at odds over noise and crime ratcheted up a notch Friday, when, two days after one of them received a resounding victory from city commissioners, he was charged with stealing dirty towels.

Mitch Novick, 53, who is part owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel on Collins Avenue, was jailed at 10:30 a.m. Friday on two counts of burglary to an occupied structure and two more counts of petty theft.

Earlier this week, longtime Novick foe David Wallack, who owns Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive directly across an alley from the Sherbrooke, released a video purporting to show a shirtless Novick crossing the alley and grabbing some towels from a bin that belongs to Mango’s.

After speaking to Novick, Wallack and witnesses, and viewing the video, Miami Beach police arrested Novick.

Asked if he wanted his neighbor of two-and-a-half-decades behind bars, Wallack said “his actions determined that. The police made that determination, not me.”

Novick’s arrest affidavit said Miami Beach police spoke with Mango’s employee Javier Padron, who told them he told Novick more than once not to take any towels from the bin behind the nightclub.

“Padron also advised on both occasions he told Novick not to do that and the cameras are watching you,” an officer wrote in Novick’s arrest report.

The beef between the two men began about three years ago when Novick joined a movement to curtail the hours of liquor sales at Ocean Drive nightclubs to 2 a.m. and to turn down the noise coming from several Ocean Drive clubs.

Novick argued that the clubs staying open into the wee morning hours attract the “riff-raff” that threatens and rips off beachgoers. Wallack and other club owners contend bad apples are attracted to his clientele because they have money and police should be doing more to protect the customers and nightclub owners.

On Wednesday, Novick and others fighting to turn down the volume were handed a resounding victory by commissioners, who voted to cancel an amendment to the city’s noise ordinance that allowed clubs to blast music at any level east toward the ocean. The commission decided to sunset the provision after four months and take another look at the item. Now Wallack and other club owners can be fined if the music travels more than 100 feet.

Though both men spoke at Wednesday’s commission meeting, they never addressed each other.

Angered at Novick’s outspokeness leading into the meeting, Wallack released video surveillance from cameras at Mango’s that show Novick crossing the alley dividing the two businesses and swiping towels. Novick, admitted earlier this week to taking towels, saying he always returned them.

In response, Novick released his own surveillance videos. In one of them he’s seen returning towels. Another shows diluted paint running off into the street through a storm water drain that came from Mango’s. Wallack said a rain squall knocked over some paint that ran through a drain at his club.

Novick’s attorney, Kent Harrison Robbins, said the arrest was “clear retaliation” and that his client will be exonerated.

“It is not a coincidence that Mitch was arrested on trumped-up charges the day after his victory imposing new noise restrictions against the clubs of Ocean Drive,” Robbins said.

Added City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: “As much as I dislike him, this was a civil matter, and Mitch Novick should not have been arrested.”

Miami Herald staff writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report.