There is perhaps no better example of America’s two-tiered justice system than the national college-bribery scandal. While teens who get arrested for low-level drug charges often spend years behind bars and can’t get hired afterward, the wealthy actors, investors, and entrepreneurs caught up in the bribery case seem to be passing through the courts with slaps on their collective wrists. Desperate Housewives actor Felicity Huffman, for example, pleaded guilty to paying a $15,000 bribe so an SAT proctor would correct her daughter’s wrong test answers, but Huffman was sentenced to only 14 days in jail and released after serving 11.
Miami Beach investor Robert Zangrillo, meanwhile, sure seems to be having a blast while he awaits his day in court. Zangrillo was charged alongside Huffman in March and has been accused of paying $50,000 to get his daughter into the University of Southern California. Zangrillo was released from custody on a $500,000 bond.
What’s he been up to since then? Apparently attending huge parties. Two days ago, Zangrillo’s rumored girlfriend, model Keir Alexa Wohlman, published photos and videos of Zangrillo covered in body paint at a Los Angeles party where Snoop Dogg was also in attendance.
Zangrillo’s legal team did not respond to an email from New Times yesterday. (A PR firm that used to represent the investor said he is no longer a client.) But after New Times sent the email, the online party photos and videos of Zangrillo were deleted.
There’s nothing illegal about throwing or attending a party while you’re awaiting criminal charges. But the photos smack of privilege — indigent or homeless Americans picked up on low-level, or even bogus, charges often can’t afford to pay relatively tiny amounts of cash bail and therefore sit in jail for months or years while waiting for their court cases to end. Zangrillo, meanwhile, is accused of some fairly hefty financial crimes and yet is out in Los Angeles still rubbing elbows with A-list celebrities.
Zangrillo has been something of a party hound for years. He’s appeared in Hollywood gossip blogs for hosting blowout bashes at his properties, throwing gigantic ragers for Miami Art Week, and attending all sorts of Burning Man-type events over the years. He’s perhaps best known to Miamians as one of the chief investors in the controversial Magic City Innovation District development, a project critics warn will rapidly and permanently gentrify Little Haiti and push out longtime neighborhood residents, who are mostly working-class immigrants.
Court records show Zangrillo has traveled to his share of exotic locales while out on bond — he’s filed paperwork asking a judge to let him fly to Tulum, Mexico; Montreal, Canada; and French Polynesia while still charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Zangrillo stated in court that each flight outside the country was purely for business.