Palm Beach Post
Copyright 2006 The Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Chances are, this won't end up on Cops.
A popular WPB police sergeant was placed on administrative leave with pay after allegedly having sex with a woman in the back seat of his squad car - in broad daylight, according to several sources. Police records show the alleged encounter occurred about 5:25 p.m. in a far corner of the sprawling parking lot of the Hilton Palm Beach Airport hotel on Australian Avenue.
Worse news for the sarge: The tryst may have been recorded for posterity on the hotel surveillance cameras. Large signs warn motorists that the parking lot is monitored.
Sgt. Ron Manuel, 41, a 17-year veteran of the force who supervises the community policing section, is under investigation by the department's internal affairs unit in connection with the Sept. 6 incident.
"All I know is what I did isn't illegal," Manuel said.
According to his personnel file, he is a highly rated cop with no record of disciplinary action. When asked about the identity of his playmate in the car, Manuel declined to comment.
"It's an open investigation," internal affairs Sgt. Jerry Chestnut said. "It's a highly sensitive case, and we won't comment until I'm done. I still have two people to interview."
A note in Manuel's employment file reads that Police Chief Delsa Bush ordered a probe "regarding allegations of inappropriate conduct . . . in a public parking lot."
Hilton GM Fred Ghadimi said IA recently came to the hotel to take several surveillance tapes.
"Everybody is shocked," said a WPB PD spy. "Ron's a good man with a nice family."
Another WPB cop, Harold Russell, was canned in May after an ex-galpal told IA they had sex in his squad car at CityPlace.
HOT SHOTS HIT HARD TIMES
Two of WPB's city slickers and their businesses are in a financial bind.
Resort, arguably Palm Beach County's largest and best-known disco, is operating in bankruptcy. And creditors are starting to hound Bentley-driving Steve Sims, owner of the fancy Clematis-based concierge service Bluefish. He's the target of no fewer than five foreclosure actions, for a total of nearly $3 million.
Resort, at CityPlace, has been a weekend rendezvous for moneyed youths and the occasional visiting celebrity since it opened in 2003. It's now in Chapter 11.
Owner Frank Cilione, veteran proprietor of several successful NYC danceterias and the now-closed, equally bankrupt CityPlace fusion eatery Tsunami, says he has no intention of closing and is just protecting himself from creditors. He owes utility companies, government entities and his landlord, CityPlace, about $200,000.
"This is actually to make the company stronger," Cilione said. "I don't want people to think we're having difficulties. A lot of companies operate this way."
Cilione says he originally sank nearly $2 million into the joint. Relatively packed on Fridays and Saturdays, Resort historically has had a hard time doing much business on other nights. When you have to make $34,000 a month just to pay rent, Cilione says, it's not always easy.
I'm told Cilione missed a rent payment in July, and CityPlace started eviction procedures. And Cilione is being sued for breach of contract by one of the joint's original investors, Lauderdale moneybags Jeffrey Cohen. Cohen claims he put $125,000 into the club yet hasn't been allowed to put in his 5 cents on how the club is managed.
Sims is another visible downtown businessman staring down the barrel of financial disaster. He opened a fancy concierge service from a Clematis office two years ago.
Rich folks worldwide hire Bluefish to book flights over Moscow in a MIG fighter jet, soccer lessons with Brit star David Beckham (for $7,000 a pop) or hard-to-get tickets for events ranging from the Oscars to NASCAR races.
Although Sims has impressed many of his Clematis peers with his showy lifestyle, it all could end soon. His three homes and office are in foreclosure procedure for nonpayment, according to court records, and a client is suing him for about $320,000. That's money Bluefish received to book a luxury stay in Antigua.
Sims admitted days before the trip that he had not sent money to the resort - even though he had been paid by the client, a California dental-implant manufacturer. The company is trying to recover what it gave Bluefish.
Delray Beach's Sims didn't respond to interview requests when reached at the phone number Bluefish is still using to operate. The lawsuits have ended up in default judgments against him because he has no lawyer and doesn't appear in court.
Another Fla. cop car tryst?