Jose Canizales, Fisher Island Groundskeeper Accused of Masturbating on Job, Sues For Defamation

Fisher Island, the status-obsessed millionaire's hamlet just south of Miami Beach, just can't seem to shake itself of masturbation-related litigation. Last year, condo-owner Raul Quintana sued porno giant BangBros.com after he was deceived, he claimed, into hosting a golf-themed skin flick in his $3 million apartment. Now Jose Canizales, a former groundskeeper at the island's posh social epicenter, the Fisher Island Club, claims he was falsely accused of, um, improperly fertilizing the flowers.

At 10:30 am on August 2, 2009, according to a defamation lawsuit Canizales has filed in court, a nanny on the island reported that she spotted a guy masturbating while watching her play ping pong with a small girl. It was the second time that morning. The nanny's vague description: "An older man, approximately age 40, with short black hair, who appeared to be Hispanic, medium color tone skin, wearing a gray regular shirt."

55-year-old Canizales says he was working with another employee at a different part of the island. Cops made no arrests, but Fisher Island administrators blamed him, according to the suit, and that afternoon Canizales was "publicly escorted from the island and terminated."

Canizales has never been officially accused of a sexual crime in Miami-Dade. In 2004, he was charged with battery but the case was dropped.

The ousted groundskeeper claims that the Fisher Island Club had been attempting to get his salary off their books since early 2009. After 27 years on the job, Canizales was making $20 an hour plus overtime, about twice the wage for new hires. And in the Spring of that year, according to the suit, his bosses threatened to fire him for not speaking English.

The incident of the grassy knoll masturbator was just the excuse the Fisher Island Club needed, says Canizales' attorney Keith R. Gaudioso: "Fisher Island underwent some serious financial difficulties from the financial downturn. They had to reduce employee costs."

The club's administrators now claim, according to Gaudioso, that the real reason they canned Canizales was because he "admitted to urinating in public." Fisher Island Club's attorney, Jennifer Williams, did not return calls for comment.

As for the mystery masturbator, no charges were ever filed. Maybe it was the one-armed man?

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Gus Garcia-Roberts