FBI nabs key figure in Bolaris bar scam

ALEC SIMCHUK was arrested Thursday at Miami International Airport, and no one is happier about it than John Bolaris.

 

Simchuk is the Florida nightclub owner with alleged ties to an Eastern European crime ring that used attractive women to run up credit-card charges of unsuspecting male tourists at Miami hotspots. In May 2010, Bolaris' American Express card was charged more than $43,000 after, he says, he was urged to "do shot" by two foreign women he met in Miami, which led to his being drugged and scammed. The former Fox 29 meteorologist may have been thinking more with another organ than his brain at the time he was conned over a two-day period.

The news became a Daily News cover story a year later as Bolaris battled AmEx to remove the charges from his account and began cooperating with federal authorities to help take down the Florida club operation.

Bolaris is due in federal court in Miami on Oct. 9 to testify against several figures linked to the criminal organization behind the club scams. "I've been waiting a long time for this," he told us Monday afternoon of the arrest of Simchuk after he returned to the States from his native Latvia. "Life's been hell for two years, and I can't wait for justice to finally be served."

Asked to elaborate on his life being hell, Bolaris said, "I haven't worked in seven months, my credibility and credit are hurting and I have become more of a cartoon than a chief meteorologist."

Bolaris and Fox 29 both claimed to have parted amicably in January, several weeks after we reported that the weatherman had been suspended, due in part to station management being upset that he had taken part in a Playboy magazine profile about his Miami escapade. Bolaris recently discussed the club scam on ABC's "20 / 20" and is also the topic of an upcoming article in Philadelphia magazine.

The meteorologist is hoping to find work in Philadelphia so he can remain close to his daughter.