By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Throughout the summer, as Miami Beach officials negotiated one of the biggest land deals in city history, there were hints of unease. Hard-knuckled planners and high-paid attorneys dickered endlessly. Architectural experts were consulted. The citizenry was sounded. But no amount of discussion about development rights and design guidelines could assuage the worriers, skeptics who asked repeatedly whether it was in the city's best interests to cozy up to Thomas Kramer, a once-broke German commodities trader who had mysteriously regained his millions in less than three years, a temperamental party boy known for his risque escapades, a self-styled South Florida eminence whose development plans for his $100 million worth of South Beach properties shifted with the vagaries of the market.
But there was no proof that Thomas Kramer, president, director, secretary, and treasurer of the Portofino Group, couldn't be trusted. He had no criminal record. He flattered city commissioners and contributed to local charities. He promised not to build "ugly, ugly, any-city buildings." He paid in cash.
So on October 5, commissioners voted to take the 38-year-old real estate tycoon at his word. They signed off on an agreement with Portofino, turning over $11.3 million and coveted development rights in exchange for land the city needed and for release from costly legal obligations. The deal allows Kramer to determine the future of South Pointe, Miami Beach's southernmost neighborhood, whose rundown apartment buildings and Art Deco gems alike command spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, commissioners have tucked themselves and their constituents snugly into bed with Kramer -- with his vision, his sense of architectural style, and his judgment.
As one 22-year-old Scottish nanny says she discovered not long after the transaction was approved, Kramer's bed is not necessarily a prudent place to be. The woman, whom New Times agreed to identify in this story as "Mary" although her real name is a matter of public record, went to Miami Beach police on November 7 and reported that Kramer had sexually assaulted her two days earlier. Within a week, she dropped the charges and returned to Scotland.
The allegations marked the second time this year that Kramer, whose divorce from publishing heiress Catherine Burda recently became final, has been accused of sexual assault. In February he was arrested at a Zurich, Switzerland, nightclub after allegedly attempting to sexually assault the pregnant wife of a long-time friend. (Through his attorneys, Kramer has vehemently denied both allegations.)
Hours before flying home to Scotland, Mary told New Times what happened when she ran into Kramer on Saturday, November 4, at Bar None, a Beach nightclub favored by the local glitterati. "I was with Richard, a friend of mine, and we were talking and Kramer came up to me," she said, explaining that she had met the German developer previously at the Forge, a popular Beach restaurant, but had never had a lengthy conversation with him. "He'd come up and say, 'Oh, you're so beautiful,' but I just sort of took it like a man being flirtatious, and, like, I never took it as anything else because he looked as if he was old enough to be my father." She was, however, attracted to one of Kramer's friends, a 26-year-old man named Oliver, and made no secret of the crush.
When Kramer invited her to join Oliver and him at their table at Bar None, Mary didn't hesitate. "I was talking to Oliver, and Thomas Kramer kept throwing me back drinks," she said. "I didn't think anything of it, because he was with his girlfriend and he wasn't making any advances at me." After two hours spent drinking tequila, Mary agreed to join Kramer, his girlfriend Stephanie, and Oliver for a nightcap at Kramer's Star Island mansion.
Plump and shapely, with an upturned nose and blond hair, Mary looks like a high-school-age baby sitter, and in fact she spent two years studying child care at a private training college in London. Last April she signed a two-year contract to work as a nanny for a family that divided its time between South Florida and Saint Barts. She moved to Miami Beach with the family in August.
At Kramer's house, Mary said, she accompanied Kramer and Stephanie upstairs to the master bedroom. She wasn't sure where she was going; she kept wondering about Oliver's whereabouts. (He never showed up.) Both Kramer and Stephanie changed into bathrobes and invited her to do the same. She complied. "I was so trashed by this time," she said. "I sat on the bed and then Stephanie left the room, saying, like, 'Bye-bye, you two, see you later.' And I turn around and say, 'What's going on? What's going on?'"
According to the report Mary filed with Miami Beach police: "[Kramer] then forcibly placed victim on her back holding her down. Victim states she told [Kramer] to stop and that she was a virgin A victim repeatedly told [Kramer] to stop. [Kramer] then took an eyedropper containing an unknown liquid and placed a drop of this unknown liquid into her left nostril. [Kramer] then placed a couple of drops into his nose. Victim then remembers waking up next to [Kramer] at approximately 0800 hours and asking what had happened. Victim states she awoke feeling sore around the pelvic area and anus area. Victim also has abrasions to her lower lip and chin with bruises around arms and legs. [Kramer's] chauffeur drove victim back to her residence. Victim does state she had consumed a large amount of alcohol. Victim went to RTC [Rape Treatment Center] after speaking to this writer."