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Club Madonna in Miami Beach faces another shutdown

Madonna

Club Madonna in Miami Beach could face shutdown again, this time for not paying resort taxes the city says it’s owed.

The fully-nude strip joint was forced to close its doors earlier this month after police said a 13-year old danced there. The club’s owner and the city came to an agreement Monday to reopen, as long as a series of conditions were met -- such as hiring a chief compliance officer who would check dancers’ IDs.

But on the same day Madonna reopened, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote to club owner Leroy Griffith that the business had violated city code by failing to pay resort taxes. Unlike most cities, Miami Beach collects its own tourism taxes.

In the case of Club Madonna, the city argues that the club’s sale of beverages triggers the need to pay resort taxes. The venue is only allowed to sell non-alcoholic drinks because Miami Beach’s laws prohibit the sale of alcohol at fully-nude establishments -- a point of contention between city leaders and Griffith, who has sued the city multiple times to try to overturn the ban.

Morales told the Miami Herald the club doesn’t appear to have ever paid the tax.

Richard Wolfe, an attorney for Club Madonna, said that’s because Madonna doesn’t have to.

“I can only say it’s ridiculous and it shows how punitive the city is acting. Resort taxes only have to be paid by restaurants. We have a written opinion letter from the city confirming that Club Madonna is not a restaurant and it’s not liable to pay the taxes,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe could not immediately produce the letter, saying he was working on “digging it up.”

According to the city manager’s letter, Miami Beach can’t determine how much it’s owed because the Department of Revenue won’t disclose tax information to “non-authorized parties.”

As a result, the city has asked for an accounting of all revenue generated by beverage sales from 2011- 2013, written consent to view state tax records and “the remittance of all resort taxes deemed owed to the city,” according to Morales’ letter.

The city originally gave Club Madonna until Friday to correct the issues, but has extended the deadline by two weeks, Morales said.

-- CHRISTINA VEIGA, cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

 

 

Comments

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Noodle Arm

The city is now embarrassing itself.

jr

That's too bad! The strippers that work there should protest the closure by forming an all-girl female choir (I hope they can manage the harmony!) and sing together as proper wedding flower maidens replete with soft palette dress colors and extravagantly braided hair-do's. Please madams

jr

please miami beach commissioners don't coerce me into having to patronize or hold the attention of a grown women for more than 30 seconds without going to the pantry and resulting in nudity. that is what i like about these places they bypass the fork!

joe

that is so wrong. the city code is clear in how a restaurant is defined and who has to pay the tax and club madonna isn't a restaurant and doesn't sell alcoholic beverages so it's clearly exempt. sadly, the city managers office is now appearing to be as ignorant and abusive of power as the one that came before it. i hope club madonna sues the city for millions for harassment and wins and all these bums in the city get kicked out. they are more upset about club madonna than the sleeping 911 operators.

David Weston

KUDOS to the city for finally paying attention to "who is and who isn't" paying their fair share of fees. I still think Miami Beach should have an Inspector General to pay attention to these issues. BTW why don't they have an IG ??

Leo Mena

Once again the City is reaching for straws and wasting tax payer money on frivolous and trumpet up allegations.

sasa

thanks..

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