The culinary community is still reeling after hearing about the death of Terrazza executive chef Stefano Riccioletti.
Riccioletti, a family man with two small children, was struck and killed in an apparent DUI hit-and-run around 6 a.m. Monday by 20-year-old Karlie Tomica.
Tomica fled the scene in her car, only to be chased 40 blocks by Good Samaritan Jairo Fuentes. Fuentes witnessed the incident and followed Tomica while on the phone with police.
In the released 911 call, Fuentes tells the emergency operator: "I'm here right now... the lady is really drunk and she just came out of the car."
WPLG Local 10 reports that Tomica's arrest report also states she appeared drunk.
In a further twist, WPLG's report states Tomica told police she bartends at Nikki Beach.
The story is getting worldwide attention, with the Daily Mail reporting that Tomica was returning home from a shift at the trendy nightclub.
If that's the case, Nikki Beach was employing an underage bartender.
According to Florida law, a person must be 21 to consume alcohol, but can serve alcohol at 18 (and sell alcohol at age 16 --
presumably meant for retail workers selling sealed
containers). Short Order consulted with an attorney who requested to remain
anonymous regarding Florida laws pertaining to the legal age to pour,
serve, consume, and possess alcohol, as well as the possible
ramifications that may occur. We were advised that although you can
serve at the age of 18, you cannot pour spirits under the age of 21.
In addition, "A licensee, or his or her or its agents, officers, servants, or employees, may not provide alcoholic beverages to a person younger than 21 years of age who is employed by the licensee except as authorized pursuant to s. 562.111 or s. 562.13, and may not permit a person younger than 21 years of age who is employed by the licensee to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises or elsewhere while in the scope of employment. A licensee, or his or her or its agents, officers, servants, or employees, who violates this paragraph commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This paragraph may be cited as "the Christopher Fugate Act."
If a Nikki Beach employee served her alcohol -- the nightclub could face penalties.
A first offense
carries a $1,000 fine and seven-day license suspension. A second offense
within three years brings a $3,000 fine and 30-day license suspension, while a
third offense within three years means license revocation.
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In addition, if Tomica was, in fact, returning home directly from Nikki Beach, the nightclub could be named in a civil lawsuit. Criminal allegations might be harder, because they would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Nikki Beach management and employees either served alcohol to Tomica or witnessed her drinking alcohol on the premises before leaving in her car.
Short Order left several messages with Nikki Beach for comment about Tomica. We will keep you posted with updates to the story.