LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 17: Danielle Bregoli is seen at Catch LA on March 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Daphne Duret, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Danielle Bregoli, the Boynton Beach, Florida, teen who has recently gained notoriety for the phrase “Cash me outside,” is expected to walk into a Palm Beach County courtroom this week for a hearing in a juvenile criminal case.
The case, however, is just the backdrop for an even bigger legal battle surrounding the 14-year-old “Dr. Phil” show guest and social media sensation. It concerns an increasingly vicious fight between her mother and father over everything from where the teen should live to the role her Hollywood management team has in her life.
The girl’s father, Ira Peskowitz, last month told The Palm Beach Post that Danielle’s mother, Barbara Bregoli, was allowing her to be exploited. After previously declining formal interview requests, Bregoli on Thursday broke her silence with an exclusive interview with The Post.
Bregoli said she wanted to speak out both to refute what she called lies and false information that Peskowitz and others have been spreading about her and Danielle and to preview written proof she plans to present in court this week that the child who once bragged about stealing cars is in school, seeing a therapist and happier than ever.
“My sole purpose in doing this is that I’m tired of all the negativity being thrown out there surrounding me and Dani,” Bregoli said.Of Peskowitz, she said, “He compares human trafficking to what’s going on with my daughter. It’s ridiculous. I’m tired of being portrayed as a bad mother.”
Peskowitz has said his daughter, who now lives in Los Angeles, is being manipulated by her mother and Hollywood agents who are hoping to cash in on the teen’s notoriety. Recent published reports claim Danielle makes upwards of $40,000 for public appearances, and an emoji app created with images of her and her catchphrases has remained in the top 40 most-downloaded apps on iTunes since its release a week ago.
She has a manager, a bodyguard and a publicist, who last week confirmed that she recently signed a deal with a major Hollywood production company that is shopping a reality TV show to networks.
Bregoli said these recent developments are meant to help her daughter, not harm her. In September, Barbara and Danielle Bregoli appeared as guests on the “Dr. Phil” show, and Barbara Bregoli begged the talk show host for help in controlling the daughter who stole her credit cards, constantly ran away from home and had a penchant for violence.
At one point in the show, Danielle Bregoli responded to laughter from audience members with a heavily accented retort that has become her claim to internet fame: “Cash me outside, how bow dah?”
Since then, the teen has become a polarizing figure, with 8.7 million Instagram followers, including both legions of young fans who admire her and an army of detractors who say she represents everything wrong with the instant celebrity of social media.
“Danielle didn’t make herself famous,” Barbara Bregoli said. “You guys, the public, they made her famous. I’m not going to be embarrassed of my daughter. Right now, the sky’s the limit for her.”
Barbara Bregoli says that despite Peskowitz’s claims that his daughter was whisked off to Hollywood and is not in school, Danielle Bregoli is now enrolled in Florida Virtual School and also has a private tutor who works with her four days a week on English, math, science and social studies.
Danielle’s classes are on the eigth-grade level, but her mother says she hopes to have both eighth- and ninth-grade coursework completed by the end of the year. Bregoli said her daughter also visits one of Los Angeles’ most highly regarded therapists once a week to work through the issues that sparked her behavioral troubles.
The mother, who declined to name the therapist or provide the name of Danielle’s tutor, says she’s ready to present paperwork in court this week to back all these claims if necessary.
Posts on Danielle’s Instagram page recently showed her learning piano with platinum producer and songwriter Mark Batson and thanking a former Facebook executive in a video in which she is wearing a custom-designed bracelet inscribed with the word “authentic” as part of a project promoting “positive energy.”
Frank Delatto, Danielle’s bodyguard, in his first published interview since beginning to work with the teen, told The Post last week that the girl’s environment is highly structured and she hasn’t been in any trouble since moving to California.
“From a safety standpoint you can tell, there’s been a change in her attitude and her behavior,” said Delatto, who has worked for celebrity clients such as Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Kodak Black.
The bravado and loud persona Danielle portrays at times is, in Delatto’s opinion, a defense mechanism. He says although Bregoli is Danielle’s mother, he believes he and others on what they call “Danielle’s team” support Bregoli by reinforcing her rules and helping her keep her daughter’s behavior under control.
Delatto wasn’t with Danielle during a February altercation outside a Lake Worth pizzeria that is now the subject of a lawsuit against her and her mother and hewasn’t working with her when she and her mother got into a fight with a Spirit Airlines passenger that got all three of them kicked off a flight. He said he doubts either event would have happened if he had been there.
After securing every public move she had made in the past several weeks, however, Delatto said he believes his young client left the bad influences in her life behind in Florida. That includes, Barbara Bregoli said, an older girl who was once Danielle’s closest friend, a child Bregoli claims is now feeding Peskowitz erroneously and damning information in hopes of getting Bregoli in trouble or helping him in his custody fight.
While Bregoli and Delatto describe Danielle as a child on the mend, Peskowitz has pointed to recently released YouTube videos that show his daughter answering fan questions and reviewing music using some of the same irreverent, foul-mouthed antics she displayed on the “Dr. Phil” show.
To that end, Bregoli and her daughter’s publicist refer to the teen as an “actress,” an outspoken teen whose views are not meant to be Disney Channel-friendly but are nonetheless no indication of her real-life development. Part of that development, they say, is coming to terms with not having had an active father for most of her life.
Danielle herself declined to comment to The Post, but her mother, publicist and bodyguard all said last week that she does not want Peskowitz in her life.
Peskowitz in his last interview said Danielle has said as much to him in some conversations, but he then demurred within minutes and appeared open to a relationship. Peskowitz said he fought hard to keep his daughter in his life, but he references court records showing he’s had to get restraining orders against her mother and claims Bregoli has harassed both him and his wife as reasons he reluctantly backed away.
Bregoli, in response, says it was Peskowitz who terrorized her and repeatedly shunned opportunities for visitation with his child as recently as 2008, according to court records. Bregoli last week also noted a 2007 article in The Post, in which a former North Palm Beach police chief against whom Peskowitz had brought a whistleblower’s suit claimed that Peskowitz threatened to kill him.
The story also mentions claims that Peskowitz had previously threatened to kill two Miami Beach police officers, an allegation that Peskowitz denied. Peskowitz remains steadfast that he did not abandon his daughter, and now he wants a judge to restore the rights he previously relinquished in hopes of having decision-making influence in Danielle’s life.
The disagreements between the girl’s parents continued this week.
In a text message Tuesday, Peskowitz said he and his daughter had spoken for an hour that day and “are going to build a relationship.”
Barbara Bregoli and Danielle’s publicist said that talk never happened and that the girl and her father instead exchanged a heated series of text messages in which she accused him of lying about her on social media.
Whatever the outcome of her parents’ legal dispute over her, Danielle herself still faces her own legal troubles. Her juvenile court hearing this week involves a case where Bregoli says she is the alleged victim, a case she says she hopes resolves without any consequence that would force her daughter to move back to Boynton Beach.
“All of the bad things that have happened with her have been in Palm Beach County,” Bregoli said of her daughter. “Her being in Boynton Beach, her surroundings, it was going nowhere fast.”