(WSVN) - The pandemic parties at a South Florida mansion are getting wild, literally, and neighbors are fed up. Here’s Karen Hensel with tonight’s 7 Investigates.
Video of this Bengal tiger in the backyard of a waterfront mansion certainly caught our attention.
Rita Lagace, neighbor: “We’re just absolutely shocked.”
The big cat pacing back and forth in a cage, as the party was being prepared.
Rita Lagace: “The sign was lit up that it was like a casino: ‘Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada.'”
But what happens in Vegas was actually happening in Miami.
It was early August in the secluded Belle Meade Island neighborhood.
Joe Shearin, neighbor: “We didn’t move to the hotel strip. This was a residential neighborhood, and it is still zoned as such, and we don’t want to see it turn into Vegas or hotels.”
Neighbors have been complaining about partying during the pandemic here for more than a year.
Neighbor (in June 2020): “It is like having a nightclub. They advertise the house as a party house.”
As we first reported last June, the mansion was listed on Airbnb for $3,500 a night and advertised as a “great party space.”
Miami Police were repeatedly called out to deal with loud music and traffic complaints.
Neighbor (in June 2020): “Is the police going to continue to come every time there is loud music? Makes no sense. Something has to be done by the city.”
The City of Miami sued to try and stop the illegal short-term rentals.
In this July 2020 settlement, the property owner agreed to follow the law and not advertise or promote the home as a vacation rental, but more than a year later, neighbors say the parties continue.
Rita Lagace: “There were so many people. It was incredible. I say over 400 people because if there was approximately 200 cars that came in, they are only counting that as the driver.”
7 Investigates has learned the LLC that owns the home on Belle Meade Island and the mansion next to it are controlled by John Petrozza.
Petrozza reportedly made millions as one of the owners of a major red light camera company operating across the country.
The two properties have racked up a whopping $520,500 in fines for the illegal short-term rentals. The cases are being appealed.
Rita Lagace: “Nobody wants to live like this. This is crazy.”
Meanwhile, the two homes are currently up for sale together for $19.5 million.
Karen Hensel: “So, if this property sells, what would be your message to your new neighbors?”
Rita Lagace: “It is a residential area.”
As for the Bengal tiger at the bash a few weeks ago, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it was a properly licensed exhibition and no violations were found.
Rita Lagace: “Why would you have a tiger like that in 90 degree weather?”
Last year, Airbnb told us they permanently removed one of the mansions from the website under their “party house policy.” It’s unclear whether the latest party was connected to another short-term rental, but the city tells us they are investigating the event.
Petrozza has not returned our calls for comment.
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