9 Weeks Later

Only in the Magic City could Mickey Rourke's boxing togs open a whole can of worms

When Ihaddadem failed to show up at Rainbow Monogram the Monday after the fight, Hoffman tried unsuccessfully to cash the $6500 check. Then he tried, with more success, to reach Ihaddadem. For the next three weeks, the two men spoke repeatedly by phone. "Then I spoke with him on a Thursday night, and he said, `I got the cash. I'll be over in ten minutes. I'm on my way,'" recalls Hoffman. "That's the last I ever heard from him." The next day, the phones at two offices Ihaddadem was using - one was a suite in The Grand at 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, the other a shop at 12603 NE Seventh Avenue in North Miami - had been disconnected.

On May 27, after speaking by phone several times with the man he knew only as "Maurice," a very patient Aurelio Cachon finally received a check for $1790, drawn on the Emporio America account. Written on it were the words: "Cancel if cashed before June 15." Cachon waited. On June 16, when he tried to cash the check, Cachon learned the Emporio account was empty, the company's phone lines disconnected.

As for Paul Rotunno, who supervised the cutting of the material and coordinated the entire endeavor, he never received cash or a check for his work. He estimates the expense for cutting the material and "doing most of the legwork" at $1300. But the effort, he says, cost him much more in honor and reputation. "No one does this type of work like that, unless it's for someone special," says a wounded Rotunno, his voice a mixture of anger, regret, and embarrassment. "The only way I got involved in it is because I like Rourke as an actor. This kind of thing makes you very cynical. I won't do anything like this again, no matter who it is. I don't care if the Pope walks in here. Personally, I'd like to get my hands on Maurice and choke him to death."

Rotunno and his local colleagues aren't the only people who have a bone to pick - or break - with Ihaddadem and Mirando. When the two men closed up shop unexpectedly earlier this month, they left behind a trail of unpaid bills, bad checks, unfilled invoices, and angry creditors.

William Diaz of Computer Signs & Graphics in North Miami says he's owed $1300 for work he did in mid-May for Ihaddadem, whom he knew as Maurice Bendali, and Mirando, whom he knew as Bernard Dumas. "They called us up and said they needed signage done for their shop on NE Seventh Avenue," Diaz says. The men were apparently building a showroom for their new line of denim wear, Fly Jeans. "I'm talking about money," Diaz remembers of his visits to the showroom-in-progress, "and they say, `Don't worry about it. We have millions all over the place.' Everybody was there working. They had video cameras put in, carpets being laid, plants being delivered, windows being painted." Diaz designed the company's black-and-white logo, plastered in decals across the shop window, and constructed "Fly Jeans" signs for the parking lot.

Janet Pytowski, owner of Vidcat Video in New York City, was contacted last month by Mirando/Dumas, who commissioned her to produce three short videos for his denim business. She sent the videos on June 1, with an invoice for $1200. When she later called the toll-free number she had been given, Pytowski discovered the phone had been disconnected. The 30-day purchase order was to expire this past Sunday, but late last week Pytowski wasn't optimistic she'd see any money. "We were scammed," she declared. "And I'm a New Yorker and I'm not supposed to get scammed."

Lenore Gordon, who owns the North Miami building where the Fly Jeans office was located, says the tenants "weren't in there a month when we found out they were doing all these crazy things." Her renters, whom Gordon knew as Maurice Y. Bendali and Bernard Dumas, installed new phone lines in the office without her permission. The landlady says she's filed eviction papers and has been left with a "terribly large" phone bill, the headaches brought on by a constant parade of betrayed creditors, and an office full of empty electronics boxes and leather samples. Says Gordon: "I still don't know what the game was, because I never saw any jeans."

But a few nettlesome IOU's may not be all Messrs. Bendali/Ihaddadem and Mirando/Dumas have to contend with. By late last week, the Miami Police Department, the Metro-Dade Police Department, and the Dade State Attorney's Office had all received fraud complaints regarding the two elusive gentlemen.

As for Mickey Rourke, he was in Japan last week preparing for his third professional bout and couldn't be reached for comment. At press time it was unclear what he would be wearing into the ring.

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