Starlite Hotel Finally Pays Employees Following Riptide Article

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."

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.