One former Philadelphia weatherman could never have forecast what would happen on his Florida vacation.
John Bolaris claims that when he traveled to Miami in March 2010, he was drugged and conned out of over $43,000 by two Eastern European "bar girls." The 54-year-old just recently came forward to speak with ABC's "20/20" about the scandal that ultimately cost him his position as a meteorologist at Fox 29.
Bolaris says he was alone at a South Beach bar when two attractive women approached him, he told "20/20" on Friday. The ex-weatherman said the women sounded like they were Russian, and they pressured him to take a shot.
The ladies seemed "very nice, like the girls next door," Bolaris explained, "This wasn't a hooker type thing." However, in an interview appearing in the January 2012 issue of Playboy, Bolaris did note that he thought he "might get laid," Around Philly reports.
Bolaris had a few drinks with his new friends, he says, then got into a cab with them, supposedly to look at a painting their friend was selling for charity. His memory grows fuzzy after that point. He told "20/20" he had a vague recollection of "signing something" and riding in another taxi with a large painting.
The next thing Bolaris fully remembers, the Daily Mail reports, is waking up fully clothed in his hotel room with the painting. He says he then received a phone call from one of the women, who was offering to return his sunglasses that she had taken accidentally.
Bolaris wanted to give the painting back, so he agreed to meet up, according to the New York Daily News. That evening, Bolaris took yet another taxi ride with the two women. Instead of taking him to return the painting, however, the women got out of the cab at an unmarked storefront and beckoned Bolaris to join them. That's the last he remembers of that night.
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The morning of March 30, Bolaris says, he awoke feeling "very sick." While the women never called again, American Express did, informing him of $43,712.25 charged to his credit card, including $2,480 for the painting.
When Bolaris attempted to dispute the charges, a man named Stan Pavlenko came forward with a photo of Bolaris at the bar in order to prove that Bolaris was indeed the one using the credit card. The Daily Mail reports that Bolaris then contacted the FBI, who undertook an investigation of Eastern European crime rings involved with South Beach clubs.
Employing undercover agents, the FBI ultimately tracked down Alec Simchuk, a Miami club-owner suspected of employing attractive women, known as "b-girls," to get patrons excessively drunk, then charge them exorbitant prices for drinks. Simchuk is currently on the lam in Eastern Europe, but the undercover agent did arrest 16 other suspects, including just under a dozen b-girls, as well as several male accountants and managers, ABC reports.
While the suspects have yet to go to trial, Bolaris himself has recently won his credit card battle. American Express has not only repaid him in full, but has also awarded him several thousands of dollars in damages.
Though his money has been returned to him, however, Bolaris still does not have his old job back. He has been suspended from Fox 29 since December 2011, according Philly.com, when the station accused the weatherman of leaking the scandalous story to the Daily News. Additionally, the station's management was less than impressed with Bolaris' Playboy interview, in which he not only provided details about the scandal, but also discussed watching sports naked and shared nude cellphone photos of various women.
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