Getting off clean: The hotel owner accused of stealing dirty towels from Mango’s Tropical Cafe during a long-running political feud with the popular nightclub.
Prosecutors on Monday declined to press charges against Mitch Novick, the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel on Collins Avenue, who was arrested by Miami Beach police for petty theft and felony burglary.
Cops last month arrested Novick after Mango’s owner David Wallack released surveillance video that showed a shirtless Novick crossing an alley between the two businesses and swiping some towels from a bin at Mango’s.
But Novick, through his attorney, said the hotel owner long had permission to use Mango’s dirty towels to clean his car — dirtied by excessive grease emitted by the restaurant itself. Novick released surveillance footage showing he returned the towels.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office agreed the case would be impossible to prove — and wasn’t worth the effort anyway.
“The alleged thefts and burglaries are of such a de minimis nature that [we] will not expend its resources prosecuting this matter, incidentally involving a victim and defendant on opposite sides of a local political dispute,” prosecutor Joe Robinson wrote in an email to superiors.
The friction between the two men began about three years ago when Novick began a movement to shorten the hours of liquor sales on Ocean Drive nightclubs to 2 a.m., and to curtail noise coming from nightclubs on the popular drag.
Novick, 53, is among those who say the club’s hours attract “riff-raff,” while Wallack says only a few bad apples are ruining the South Beach experience.
Two days before Novick was arrested in July, he helped win a victory against the club owners. The Miami Beach City Commission voted to cancel an amendment to the city’s noise ordinance that allowed clubs to blast music at any level east toward the ocean.
Both men spoke at the commission meeting, though they did not address each other. For now, Wallack and other club owners can be fined if music travels more than 100 feet, although the commission will revisit the issue in a couple months.
Novick’s attorney, Kent Harrison Robbins, claimed Wallack engineered the arrest as “clear retaliation” for the loss at City Hall.
On Monday, Robbins blasted Miami Beach police for rushing to arrest his client on bogus charges. He pointed out that Wallack has donated an expensive all-terrain vehicle to the police department, as well as several police dogs.
“There is clear evidence that Mango’s and its principal David Wallack have a special relationship with the Miami Beach Police Department,” Robbins said.
Wallack could not immediately be reached for comment.
“We knew this would be a sensitive case that would draw great scrutiny if we made an arrest,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates. “So we made a careful evaluation, and we consulted with the State Attorney’s Office, which approved the original charges before we made the arrest. I assume their further evaluation of the case, after the arrest, led to this decision. I am sure the state has a good reason for this but I have not discussed the details with them.”