Miami-Dade Prosecutor Loses Job for Flashing Badge at Goldrush Strip Club

goldrush.jpg
Goldrush strip club did not appreciate Ari Pregen's patronage. 
Ari Pregen picked the wrong strip club to throw his weight around. On January 26, the Miami-Dade assistant state attorney gained free admission for himself and two pals into downtown Miami's Goldrush by flashing his work badge at the club's executive manager, Jeff Levy. A few hours later, Pregen again whipped out his law enforcement credentials so he wouldn't have to pay a 15 percent credit card surcharge on lap dances he purchased.

Seven days later, Pregen pulled the same stunt, according to a complaint Levy filed with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. When his bosses confronted him about his douchey behavior, Pregen twice denied abusing his badge despite video evidence to the contrary. Naturally, the rookie prosecutor (hired in May 2012) was canned from his $40,000-a-year job February 8.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office typically doesn't comment on personnel matters, but documents obtained by Riptide show that Pregen's supervisors acted swiftly to resolve the embarrassing incident. Levy didn't want to comment either. "I consider the matter closed and resolved," he said.

Pregen could not be reached for comment. If we do hear back, we will update this post. Pregen is the assistant state attorney who failed miserably in his prosecution of Miami photographer and blogger Carlos Miller last year.

Thumbnail image for Ari-Pregen.jpg
Bruce Wayne Staley via Carlos Miller
Ari Pregen making his case against Carlos Miller last year.
Miller had been charged with a criminal misdemeanor of resisting arrest because he allegedly disobeyed a Miami-Dade police officer's command to vacate the area when law enforcement officials cleared out the Occupy Miami camp at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. A jury found Miller not guilty.

In a blog post he wrote about the verdict, Miller described Pregen as "a frattish-looking prosecutor fresh out of law school" who tried to explain to jurors that "a real journalist was supposed to follow police orders without a second thought."

According to a February 4 letter Levy originally sent to Attorney General Pam Bondi, here's what happened:

Pregen got belligerent with Goldrush's front door bouncers, demanding he and his crew be allowed into the club without paying the cover charge. Security called Levy, who came to the front door. He explained to Pregen that he only allowed military with a valid ID to enter the strip joint for free. "Mr. Pregen was more persistent and told me that he had not paid for admission fees for years," Levy recollected. "Mr. Pregen reached for his wallet and flashed his State Attorney's badge at me."

To avoid making a scene, Levy said he let the trio in without charging them "against [his] better judgment."

Around 1 in the morning, Pregen lost his cool when he used his credit card to pay for lap dances. He was annoyed that Goldrush -- like all strip clubs -- wanted to collect a 15 percent surcharge for swiping his plastic. Anyone familiar with strip-club etiquette understands that obtaining bands for lap dances usually comes with a vig (or vigorish). That's why patrons in the know stop at an ATM before they step through the front door.

Clearly, Pregen didn't get the memo. Levy alleges Pregen tried to intimidate the female employee who ran his credit card by stating "he is a state attorney and he dares her to charge him... Mr. Pregen goes on to flash his badge again to the female employee." The assistant prosecutor also claimed it was illegal for the club to take his fingerprint because he was a state employee. (To prevent allegations of committing credit card fraud, strip clubs will take a customer's fingerprint and driver's license.)

In his complaint, Levy said he let Pregen's rude behavior slide but told the prosecutor not to return to Goldrush.

The strip club manager decided to report Pregen because he was "highly upset that a person would abuse his power and position as a state attorney, demanding things for free and intimidate the working-class person."

Levy added, "There is nothing more dangerous than a person who defends the law and then abuses the law and his position for self-gain."

Bondi forwarded Levy's complaint to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. On February 7, Don Horn, chief assistant state attorney; Lorna Salomon, senior employment counsel; and Joseph Mansfield, chief of the State Attorney's DUI/Crimes section, called Pregen in to address the complaint.

According to a termination letter written by Salomon, Pregen "denied having engaged in any inappropriate conduct and denied violating any office policies." However, his bosses subsequently received additional information from Levy such as a still image of Pregen flashing his badge inside Goldrush. Levy also told Mansfield that, despite being told not to return to the club, Pregen visited Goldrush February 2 "and repeated the unbecoming conduct."

On February 8, for the second time in two days, Pregen falsely denied acting a fool and abusing his position. "Because we had proof that Mr. Pregen's assertions were false and we found his statements not to be credible, Mr. Pregen was terminated," Salomon wrote.

Before packing up his belongings, Pregen tried to salvage his job by penning a sappy, woe-is-me apology letter:

Ari Pregen Apology letter by Frank Ness



Sorry, Ari, but the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office did right by canning you. Good luck with your new career as an ambulance chaser.

[H/T to Justice Building Blog]

Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

My Voice Nation Help
35 comments
saone
saone

The real story is gold rush owner is friend with the new times owner who had been tried in a case against this prosecutor.  New times was told of the incident and capitalized on it. I heard he lost his cool when the atm machine was broken and they wanted to charge him 15% to pay . New times and Gold Rush added to what had happened to make news and seek retaliation for being tried in the past by this DA. This DA paid the price for a mistake, but the media lies to you sheep to make news which sucks. If you are to make news tell the truth and quit lying. Gold rush is one to talk about corrupt, drugs and bad things happen in that poor establishment. How ironic, he who is without sin should cast the 1st stone.  side note: I heard this from one of the goldrush employees, go figure.


Miamigroove
Miamigroove

I salute those in charge who made the right decision. Justice is served.

Bigdic
Bigdic topcommenter

Fucking corrupt law officers of S.Florida, this clown was looking for some free pussy & booze.

dave4121
dave4121

What a total douchebag! He acted like a dick when he came, and actually told me he was a cop, when I asked to see his ID and not the badge he kept flashing is when we figured out he wasn't a cop and was in fact a ASSistant DA.

mike.burke99
mike.burke99

britto should stop defacing parking meters

neatjunk
neatjunk

What a total and complete douche.

Melvin Mendoza
Melvin Mendoza

Guy named Ari didn't want to pay extra surcharge -- SHOCKING!!!

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

what a fucking loser, he lost his job for a lap dance

AreaMan
AreaMan

$40,000 for a prosecutor? Damn, he could make more money as a butcher.

dave4121
dave4121

@Courtney WeaverStance Mitchell There was SHAME in is game, I was the guy at the door of the club, he was a total douchebag and rightfully lost his job because of it!

Laparim
Laparim

@Melvin Mendoza You are a racist scumbag. Go back to your shitty rat-infested shithole of a country. The US does not need racist ignorant turds like you. Pack your bags, get back in your raft, and row or crawl your sorry ass back to your sad excuse of a country.

Fucking Spaniards....instead of fucking the indian whores (like your great grandma) they should've just killed all the fucking indians in South America. Then we wouldn't have a billion dumb spics like you.

saone
saone

@dave4121 sounds like you embellished the truth a bit, as per your co worker. just saying. Then again strip club front door people don't break the law by charging customers to sell fake ids back and extortionate customers for money right? lol that never happens right. regardless if you act a fool no matter who you are you'll pay for it. poor fool should have paid and stayed quiet hahaha.


piranha1958
piranha1958

@Laparim Speaking of racist scumbags, I have to assume you were trying to be clever because if you weren't you are ten times the racist Melvin is.  As I reread your post, I have to conclude you are kidding - cruelly so, but kidding just the same.  Because if you aren't, you are the biggest hipocrite on the planet, spewing racist hate as you accuse Melvin of racist hate.  You HAVE to be joking.  You have to be.  Otherwise you are just a complete and total Asshole, not worth the time I've already wasted on you.

saone
saone

@Laparim  YOU are an idiot! I dislike racist people, how can you get on him about dumb comments and make many yourself. How ignorant, your word is as good as donkey sh*t on a stick.

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...