#sextrafficking | FBI and state attorney now investigating violent comments from Tampa restaurateur Lanfranco Pescante | #tinder | #pof | #match

Nocturnal Hospitality Group’s David Anderson (L) and Lanfranco Pescante (R).MEAGHAN HABUDA

State Attorney Andrew Warren and the FBI are investigating violent social media comments made by Lanfranco Pescante, a former co-owner of Tampa’s Nocturnal Hospitality Group, who stepped down from that role on Tuesday.

That news was shared by WFLA, which was at a press conference with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pescante stepped down from his role as co-owner of Nocturnal Hospitality Group after his violent and racist comments surfaced online.

On Monday, Lanfranco Pescante went online to explain why he made a “Just shoot them all” comment on an Instagram post. Pescante defended the post by writing that it was taken out of context. Others described racist comments by Pescante.

In the hours leading up to, and after, his resignation, social media users shared screenshots of several women who accused Pescante of sexual misconduct. Many of the posts were pushed out by model Carmen Caliente who shared stories of alleged sex trafficking. Caliente also anonymously shared stories sent to her from multiple women alleging rape, sexual assault, as well as being drugged. Some of the women say they were minors and others said some of the events occurred in establishments operated by Nocturnal.

On Tuesday night Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to the U.S. Marshall, Hillsborough County Sheriff office, Tampa Police and a spokesperson for the city of Tampa to see if they knew about the allegations of a rumored warrant for sex trafficking.

On Wednesday, Tampa Police told CL they were not commenting any further, and an official from the FBI National Press Office said, “DOJ forwarded your inquiry to the FBI National Press Office.”

“I don’t have any further information on him,” U.S. Marshall Deputy Ron Lindbak told CL. “I know he had not been processed as of earlier today.”

In the fallout surrounding Pescante’s comments, Nocturnal, which operates popular Tampa restaurants including Osteria, Franklin Manor, Shibui and Mole y Abuela, also lost its celebrity chef.

Fabio Viviani, who helped create Osteria and won “fan favorite” on 2008’s “Top Chef,” says he has severed all ties with Nocturnal. 

In a statement posted to Osteria’s Instagram, Fabio Viviani Hospitality says it is no longer employing management services from Nocturnal Hospitality Group. Viviani was also in the process of opening another Italian restaurant with Nocturnal in St. Petersburg, called La Pergola. 

Jennifer Cornet, Managing Director at Bread & Butter PR, which contacted Creative Loafing Tampa Bay on behalf of the Fabio Vivani Hospitality Group, wrote, “FVH is a stakeholder in Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole y Abuela and Shibui. Nocturnal Hospitality Group was the local management company with whom FVH engaged last year to run the day to day operations.”

“FVH, its investors, partners, and all Tampa venues have completely cut all ties and are no longer involved with Nocturnal Hospitality Group,” Cornet added. “Nocturnal Hospitality Group no longer manages, or is associated with, any of the FVH venues in Tampa or anywhere else in the country. FVH has no ties and has never had any ties whatsoever with Franklin Manor.”

UPDATED 06/03/20 5:33 p.m. We’ve added CL reporting about Nocturnal being dismissed from its partnership with celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani.

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