Three months ago Riptide reported that the Starlite Hotel on Ocean Drive was under investigation for bilking its employees. Now ex-Starlite employees say the hotel has finally coughed up the cash.
"We got paid," says Noah Bassham, who worked at the hotel's restaurant for six months.
Bassham says Riptide's reporting helped, but hotel owner Mark Muhlrad ultimately only paid when the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division compelled him to.
"The Department of Labor had a really strong case," says Bassham, a pot-bellied Texan with a strange soul patch on the back of his otherwise shaved head. He says he received $20,000 after taxes -- the same amount he originally said he was owed -- from Muhlrad. Bassham and says other workers at the now-defunct Starlite Café also received back wages.
Bassham was forced to move out of his apartment -- also owned by Muhlrad -- last fall when his withheld wages kept him from paying rent. He says the experience has soured him on the Magic City, which lacks a certain Southern hospitality.
"The other day I read that Miami is the fourth rudest city in the union," he says. "I've noticed that myself. Hell, start smiling folks. Life ain't that bad."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.