MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A former cocktail waitress at Jeff Greene’s West Palm Beach resort said the billionaire, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, “smacked her on the arm” to get her attention because the music at the hotel was too loud, according to a 2013 police report obtained by CBS Miami.
Typically this type incident, which is more than five years old, would not garner much attention – the waitress said she was not injured, she said she did not believe Greene intended to hurt her, and she said she wasn’t interested in having the case prosecuted. However, because the report surfaces in the midst of a contentious and increasingly nasty Democratic primary, it is likely to become campaign fodder in the final weeks of the campaign.
According to the incident report, the episode allegedly occurred on December 28, 2012, at approximately 5 pm at what was then known as the Omphoy Beach Resort. The waitress, Lisa Ann Thomas, who was 24 at the time, “said Jeff Greene walked up to her and `smacked her on the arm’ and said, `can you turn down the music.’”
“She said she was very offended that he hit her on the arm and later resigned her job,” the report continues.
Although the alleged encounter occurred on December 28, Thomas waited three weeks before filing the report with the Palm Beach Police Department. “She said her attorney directed her to file a police report,” according to the officer who took her statement, adding “she requested a police report for the purpose of documenting the incident.”
“I asked her if she had any injuries and if she thought he intended to physically hurt her and if there were any fighting words,” the officer continued. “Ms. Thomas said `No,’ but she was offended that Jeff Greene smacked her on the arm and she thought that was inappropriate. I asked her if there was any witnesses and she said `Yes’ that information was documented with the hotel. I asked her if she wanted to prosecute and she said `No.’”
Contacted by CBS Miami, Thomas replied by text message: “I have no comment. Please don’t contact me again.”
There is no record of Thomas filing any lawsuits in Palm Beach County against either Greene or the Omphoy Beach Resort (now known as the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa).
Claire VanSusteren, communications director for the Greene campaign, issued the following statement: “It’s unfortunate that the Republicans are bringing such a non-story into the political bloodstream in an attempt to weaken Jeff’s campaign. As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day.”
“Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas,” the statement continues. “The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume. As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken. Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”
In an interview with CBS Miami, VanSusteren said the campaign became aware of the police report on Wednesday.
She said although the report suggests Thomas may have been considering a lawsuit or claim against Greene, she said “that did not come to fruition.”
Asked if there was a settlement, agreement or payout of any kind compensating Thomas regarding her allegations, VanSusteren said “the answer is no – a definitive no.”
She said they have been unable to find a copy of Thomas’s personnel file because the management company that ran the hotel at the time no longer involved in the resort. “We were told this file doesn’t exist,” VanSusteren said, adding they have now contacted the previous management company to see if they have her file.
“Obviously it is unfortunate this woman was offended,” VanSusteren reiterated. “I think it is a regretful experience.”