Rudy Morejon, salsa singer and cigar store owner, is not happy. In 1998 his company, Cuba Habanos USA, started selling rip-offs, er, replicas of Cuban cigars hand rolled by five exiles who once worked in the factories of Monte Cristo, Cohiba, and other big Cuban cigar makers. His company started peddling the stogies at locations in South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Dominican cigar makers, who have their own pseudo-Cuban cee-gar deal, sued the Morejons and settled the case out of court. Then things got shady: A few months later three men broke into the family's house in the Dominican Republic and attacked Rudy's Cuban-exile father, Justiniano. And this past November 3 Justiniano Morejon was murdered in the family's cigar factory at the Miami-Hialeah border. Cause of death: a machete to the head. Finally on May 17 authorities raided the Morejons' South Beach Cigar Factory and confiscated $83,240 worth of cigars. So far no arrests in Justiniano's killing. And Beach police are holding the cigars, though no charges have been filed against Rudy. Indeed the replicas of Cohibas, Monte Cristos, and others still are on sale in both stores. "Somebody with a lot of money has it out for us," Morejon says. "The only way they can get me out of business is by killing me like a dog." If you want to check it out in Rudy's own words, try the Morejons' Website, www.Cubalibre.net.
Riptide bids farewell to two Herald veterans who perished in odd circumstances last week. Ozzie Osborne, a 76-year-old columnist in the Florida Keys, committed suicide with a .22 caliber pistol this past Friday. He quit just a day after his editor asked him to write more columns. And Rose Swan, age 53, a credit union worker who was likely better known to Herald staffers than Tony Ridder or Alberto Ibargüen, died Thursday of natural causes on her couch. She was smoking cigarettes with her hair up in curlers. Twenty cigarettes were in the ashtray and one in her hand.
New Times picked up a passel of Sunshine State awards recently -- eight to be exact. The local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists gave first-place honors to columnist Jim DeFede for commentary, and to staff writers Robert Powell for nondeadline sports reporting and Tristram Korten for breaking sports news. Korten picked up awards in business nondeadline and feature reporting as well. Also honored were staff writers Lissette Corsa for sports reporting and Jacob Bernstein for feature writing. Former New Times writers who picked up honors were Judy Cantor for foreign reporting and Robin Dougherty for criticism.
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