South Beach, Miami, is renowned for its beautiful beaches, bikini-clad women, and incredible wealth. Such an environment is ripe for opportunistic businessmen who are anxious to make an easy buck. Enter Albert Takhalov, Isaac Feldman, and Stanislav Pavlenko (the “Defendants”), three Russian immigrants who built a business model aimed precisely at taking advantage of the unique opportunities that South Beach has to offer. By combining seductive women with tourism and alcohol, their profits quickly began to soar. There was only one problem. The crux of their plan involved misleading their patrons. While schemes to profit from unsuspecting customers are hardly a modern concept, at what point does merely deceiving a customer become “taking advantage” of him? And at what point can a legitimate business model morph into a fraudulent criminal enterprise? The gray area in the middle is where the law tends to get murky. This Note analyzes the facts and holdings of Takhalov and then delves into the history of statutes that prohibit employees from drinking and/or mingling with patrons, as well as the history of wire fraud. Next, it discusses the importance of not abusing the wire fraud statute so as to maintain a fine line between fraud and deceit. Lastly, this Note contends that the prosecution over-stepped its bounds by bringing charges pursuant to the wrong criminal statute and that the correct statute, under which the prosecution should have brought charges, needs to carry tougher penalties.
American Greed: The Eleventh Circuit Analyzes Whether Booze, Babes, and Business Can Tightrope the Line Between Fraud and Deceit,
83 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol83/iss3/8