Giancarlo Granda, the former Fontainebleau pool attendant whose business bizarrely received $1.8 million in loans from famous evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr., wants the world to stop calling him a "pool boy." He finds the term demeaning.
And, perhaps more notable, he officially denies knowing anything about alleged "racy" photos referenced in a Reuters story published yesterday. Reuters investigative reporter Aram Roston obtained a clandestine recording made by comedian Tom Arnold in which Donald Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen said he helped Falwell Jr. hide intimate photos that a lawyer "in Florida" had obtained. In the recording, Cohen — a man who has ostensibly seen his fair share of shenanigans — said even he found one of the photos to be "terrible."
Roston was also the reporter who broke the news that Falwell Jr. had mysteriously loaned Granda's business a ton of money and that Cohen was aware of a lawsuit involving Falwell and Granda. Reporters have, ahem, speculated that Granda was the Floridian who had obtained said photos and that Cohen might have leveraged the scandal to get Falwell Jr. to endorse the infamously lecherous and not-at-all Jesus-like Trump in 2016.
But today, Granda's lawyer, Aaron Resnick, denied Granda had anything to do with this.
"Giancarlo Granda has never had any communications with Michael Cohen (directly or indirectly)," Resnick told New Times via email. "He does not know Mr. Cohen. He has never met Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a convicted felon and admitted liar. Mr. Granda has no idea about the alleged 'personal photographs' Mr. Cohen refers to in his taped conversation with Tom Arnold, which was published by the Washington Post. Mr. Granda has never been involved in any negotiations directly or indirectly with Mr. Cohen. This includes any negotiations through legal counsel. Mr. Granda is not the person referred to by Mr. Cohen in the taped recording referenced in the Washington Post article. Any suggestion that he is that person is absolutely false."
Everything about the Falwell Jr. story is extremely weird. To summarize: In 2012, Granda was working as a pool attendant at the luxurious Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. While Granda was employed there, Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki stayed at the resort and, according to court records, "befriended" Granda. From there, Granda grew very close to the Falwell family: According to court filings first reported by Roston, Granda, along with Falwell's son Trey, bought a hostel on Alton Road in Miami Beach and has been managing it ever since. (A Politico reporter even stayed there and implied the place was gay-friendly, which would be pretty darn hypocritical for the infamously homophobic Falwell family.) The Falwells also reportedly flew Granda around in a private jet and even took him to meet Trump.
Two men later sued Granda and the Falwells in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The men claimed they were originally promised a cut in the real-estate deal but were ultimately shut out of the project. In a court filing, Falwell confirmed he loaned Granda's hostel money but denied he'd in any way swindled people. The claims against Granda have already been dismissed.
That appeared to be the end of the very weird story — until yesterday, when Roston dropped another bombshell. Arnold, the comedian and former Apprentice contestant, interviewed Cohen for a Trump-related TV show that Arnold was filming. Roston obtained an audio recording in which Cohen admitted someone in Florida had obtained "personal" photos that would typically be kept “between husband and wife" and was trying to use the pictures to extort Falwell Jr. In 2015, the Falwells reportedly hired Cohen to make the photos disappear. Cohen reportedly flew to Florida to meet with the lawyer directly.
“I actually have one of the photos,” Cohen reportedly said. “It’s terrible.”
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Falwell Jr., meanwhile, has denied the existence of any lurid photos. He told Fox Radio host Todd Starnes there are "no compromising or embarrassing photos" of himself.
"While we have a long-standing friendship with Michael Cohen, we never engaged or paid Cohen to represent us in any legal or other professional capacity, and Cohen did not ever resolve any legal matter on our behalf," Falwell added. "This report is not accurate."
Since the story broke, the internet has been awash in rumors that Granda was somehow involved in the affair. But his lawyer now adamantly denies Granda had anything to do with it. Moreover, Granda doesn't like how he's being portrayed in the press. His lawyer says he'd rather be known as a Georgetown University grad student.
"Media outlets have been referring to Mr. Granda as a 'pool boy,'" Resnick said. "The term 'pool boy' is being used to demean Mr. Granda, sully his name, and infer negative connotations. Please do not use that term going forward when referring to Mr. Granda. It will be greatly appreciated."