(MIAMI) — A fugitive night club owner who allegedly used beautiful women to defraud wealthy men in an alcohol scheme is scheduled to appear in Miami federal court Friday.
Alec Simchuk, 45, was arrested at Miami International Airport on Thursday by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations without incident, said Special Agent Michael D. Leverock.
In total, the FBI said 88 men were preyed upon by a crime ring that illegally brought in attractive women from Eastern Europe and used them to lure men from Miami hotspots like the Hotel Delano, Clevelander and Fontainebleau to shady clubs nearby where the girls plied their alleged victims with liquor, forged their signatures and charged them “exorbitant prices” for alcohol. Simchuk, who is from Latvia, faces pending federal charges for his role in the scheme.
John Bolaris, a former weatherman in Philadelphia who fell victim to the crime ring, told 20/20 last month how he was first approached by two women at a South Beach bar during his 2010 vacation.
“They came across very cutesy, and very sincere, and very nice, like the girls next door,” Bolaris said “This wasn’t a hooker-type thing.”
But when a $43,712.25 charge hit his American Express card, Bolaris knew something about those nights he could not remember wasn’t right.
After spending 13 months and more than an estimated $1 million investigating the case, the FBI staged a birthday party at one of the clubs to arrest the bar girls, often referred to as b-girls, and their managers.
Although Simchuk and several of b-girls already had returned to their native countries, an officer who had infiltrated the ring as a “dirty cop” invited all the remaining suspects to attend his pretend “birthday party” in April at Club Tangia.
The FBI raided the club fully armed, arresting 16 suspects that night, including almost a dozen b-girls and a handful of male managers and accountants.
Simchuk had already fled to his native Latvia at the time of the raid.
It was unclear what prompted him to return to Florida on Thursday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Nedelman, CNN
Kristina Tieken, FamilyShare
Morgan Loew, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com