Key West, Florida, Saturday, April 24, 2004
Rothschild back before judge
Still on probation for theft,
clerk is cited in tourist rip-off case
Citizen Staff Writer
KEY WEST -- In February, the
city wrapped up a crackdown on Duval Street T-shirt
shop owners with nearly a dozen merchants convicted
of violating city regulations designed to protect
tourists from fraud.
One of those T-shirt vendors, who is on
probation for bilking customers last year, is again
accused of padding credit card bills.
Months of bitter public hearings ended with shop
owners asking for
mercy and pledging to change their business
practices in order to stop fraud. Yet police have
been called to Duval Street T-shirt shops four
times in the past two weeks on complaints from
angry customers who say they were ripped off.
these scams used by the 100-percent Jewish
T-short stores in Key West's main tourist
thoroughfare, Duval Street.
There are currently
about twenty of these stores along a
one-mile stretch. The brave Key West
Citizen exposed the real nature of
their trade four or five years back in a
series of special articles: they are all
owned by the same Israeli family, and all
are laundering money for the Israeli
international narcotics trade in the
opinion of the local prosecutors.
shrieked the owners at the newspaper, and
"Holocaust!," until they were hauled off
before the courts.
As for the scams they operate, see my
Diary for August 2002, which relates
at first hand the methods they use,
including the Hebrew word saf
("rip-off!") hissed from the shop floor to
the guy at the cash register, indicating
this is a tourist they can scam.
Have a happy stay in Key West, folks; and
stay out of Duval Street. That seems to be
State prosecutors are investigating store clerk
David Rothschild, who previously was
arrested for -- and later pled guilty to -- theft
charges. Those charges stemmed from a complaint by
a Japanese tourist couple who said they were
overcharged $600 late last year.
The latest investigation of Rothschild, a clerk
at Bikini Key, comes after code enforcement
officers cited him for violating the city's custom
wearing apparel ordinance, which is designed to
protect customers from being quoted one price and
An English tourist
visiting Key West purchased bathing suits and
T-shirts from Rothschild on April 10, according
to a Key West police report. The tourist "was
led to believe the sale was for $200," the
report states. Rothschild rang up the sale and
the tourist signed the credit card receipt, then
placed his copy in a shopping bag. He later
looked at the receipt and realized he was
charged $1,798.89. None of the items had price
tags on them, the report states.
Code enforcement officers cited Rothschild for
violating the apparel ordinance, and he is slated
to go before a judge Monday.
Rothschild, contacted by phone Friday, declined
State prosecutors are reviewing the case to see
if criminal charges should be filed, said Monroe
County State Attorney Mark Kohl. If found
guilty of violating the apparel ordinance, the
charge could be a violation of Rothschild's
probation, and a judge could order him to jail,
Rothschild initially was charged with grand
theft in the case involving the Japanese couple. He
later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of petty
theft. On Feb. 5, he was sentenced to six months
probation and 20 hours of community service, fined
$250 and ordered to pay $150 in court costs, court
Duval Street T-shirt
shops have earned an unflattering reputation as
havens for fraud, which led the city to revamp
its ordinances regulating businesses that put
decals on shirts.
The custom wearing apparel ordinance states shop
employees must give customers a written estimate of
costs, telling them how much T-shirts will cost
after customized lettering and other work is
The city commission voted 4-1 in February to
uphold a 10-day suspension of a city-issued
business license and a $1,000 fine for the owners
of eight shops -- including Bikini Key.
Commissioner Jose Menendez was the lone
dissenter and commissioners Harry Bethel and
Merili McCoy did not attend the meeting.
"Apparently they didn't get the message," Mayor
Jimmy Weekley said Friday. "This is
destroying Duval Street. I'm infuriated by it."
Commissioner Carmen Turner questioned whether
the next step needs to be to the revocation of
occupational licenses of repeat offenders.
David Irving, Radical's
Diary for August 2002.