Ted “Wolfman” Vernon and Robin Ziel are former marital and business partners who gained prominence when Discovery Network premiered their reality TV show, “South Beach Classics,” in 2011. The producers spotted their eponymous business in the Miami, Florida area and recognized that the couple, alongside their crew, affectionately called ‘the Gargoyles,’ would look great on TV doing what they do best. They bought, refurbished, and sold classic automobiles, which matched the premise of Discovery Channel’s other car-related TV shows such as “Chasing Classic Cars” and “Wheeler Dealers.” Ted was remarkably successful; he was a boxer and actor and initially worked in real estate, as his father Harold was a real estate developer. However, he found his calling and became well-known in Florida when he joined the automobile industry about four decades ago.

The audience loved the team’s charisma, expertise, dedication to quality, and the fun things constantly happening while they worked. Therefore, Discovery Channel partnered with Max Wyler, who spearheaded the company Accord Productions, and they produced four seasons and considered filming the fifth. Unfortunately, Ted and Robin’s TV show was canceled after 10 episodes of the fourth season, the first of which premiered on 9 February 2017. Low viewership wasn’t the problem, as mentioned; instead, the couple’s failing marriage and accusations of domestic abuse prevented season five from happening.

Moreover, Ted had a rap sheet dating to his late teens, including possession of firearms, sexual abuse, and battery. That put off the uninformed viewers, who had no reason to investigate his criminal history. If they’d kept the show, Velocity, an automotive-focused brand of Discovery Network, would have got a bad reputation. Perhaps unrelated to the controversy,  Velocity rebranded into MotorTrend on 3 August 2017. Thankfully, Max stood by Ted and recognized the high interest in the car dealer’s experience and personality. Therefore, he hired him for the fifth season unconnected with Discovery in June 2019 and at least one more project, both set to air in 2023. Whether Max was justified is debatable, but we investigated why Ted Vernon could have spent a decade in prison, but ended up on probation instead.

Robin’s bravery started everything

Ted had a long history of breaking the law, including three charges between 19 and 41, but he was never convicted. He was accused of committing two more misdeeds at 63 and 64 and one at an unknown date. All this became obvious when his now ex-wife, Robin Ziel, spoke out against him when she disappeared from the show’s fourth season in 2017. She told the Miami New Times magazine that Ted committed child abuse and domestic violence towards her, his three children, and his late first wife, Monika Sula.

He was arrested, and the court threatened to sentence him up to 10 years for his alleged crimes. However, he ultimately got a maximum sentence of six months, and the prosecutors, who technically correctly characterized him as a first-time non-violent offender, asked the judge to give him two months in prison before requesting an even milder sentence of house arrest and probation. Ted is now a free man, and is back to work in his car business. Furthermore, he’s working on rebuilding his reputation and creating digital content online, hoping to eventually return to TV.

Ted was a prior offender

He was a successful amateur boxer in his twenties and had a 3-1 professional record, which is where his nickname, Wolfman, comes from. He gained a reputation for his first-round knockouts but was also knocked out in the first round once.

With that said, the news at the time claimed that Ted was a millionaire who worked in the entertainment industry, particularly as an actor and producer, so he boxed out of passion. People were shocked when his prior misdeeds, some tied to violence, came to light in 2017, as he had a way to blow off some steam.

According to courtroom information, Ted committed forcible sexual assault at 19, then carried a concealed weapon and acted disorderly the following year. At 41, he was accused of assault and battery, though it was unclear who the target was. At age 63, he was charged with battery, and at age 64 with felony battery. Finally, at one point he was charged with threatening a public servant, aiding and abetting, which could be tied to his recent wrongdoings.

Ted viciously attacked Robin in 2015

After Robin accused him of making her life a living hell and routinely beating her before 2017, the judge issued Ted a permanent restraining order to stop retaliation and verbal contact. However, Robin claimed that the abuse had lasted for a while and reported one particularly gruesome attack on 10 October 2015. She said that they had been separated for about five months at that point, and had been married for 15 years.

Robin stated that the couple had returned from a 50s-themed concert when Ted received a call from a female, and taunted her that he had upgraded in the meantime. She did not want to reply but sarcastically remarked, ‘Have a good night, Mr. Vernon,’ as she grabbed keys and clothes.

She stated that this enraged Ted greatly and that he chased her to the driveaway, pinned her down, took control of her phone while on the ground, and smashed her jaw with a closed fist. He yelled, ‘You better get up, bitch, before I run you over!’ before he entered his car and drove away.

She ran to the neighbor’s house with a bruised face, a black eye, and a bloody lip, and the police quickly showed up. Although the officers wanted to issue an arrest warrant, Robin stopped them, noting that Ted had threatened to leave her penniless, without children, and with a tarnished public image.

Robin ignored the early red flags

The couple had a young teenage son, Ted Vernon Junior when the fights started getting out of control. Ted also had two children from a previous marriage, both of whom fell in love with Robin from the moment they met. She also noted that on the first night they met, Ted told her that they would spend the rest of their life together, and marry. While she initially found it cute, she said that she later realized that Ted ‘didn’t take no for an answer, and was a bit psychotic.’ Additionally, Robin alleges that he broke her hand by throwing a chair at her but stopped when she became pregnant with their son.

Moreover, Robin stated that one of the main reasons that their show received a green light was his snappy attitude. She said that when Ted received the call from a British producer, an employee, Marco, was taking a cigarette break at the car shop. Ted apparently told him that he ‘didn’t like cigarette smoke in his face, and to do him a favor, stick it up his bottom, and get out of there because he stunk.’ She said that the producer loved the unprompted drama and quickly came to Miami; at this point, Ted called Robin a good-looking prop for the show, degrading her abilities.

She cited many other incidents with employees, family members, and customers during her accusations, including Ted hitting his daughter Alex in the head with a two-by-four . Robin also revealed a secret; Discovery told them they plan to cancel their TV show after two episodes due to low ratings. However, they got lucky because the company launched Velocity, and needed their TV show as a placeholder until they produced more content. Luckily, the viewers started to like it, and Ted secured funding from Accord Productions for a new season.

He denied the accusations

He declared that the evening in October did not happen that way, and that Robin was a pathological liar. Ted clarified that she wanted to use domestic abuse during divorce proceedings, tarnishing his reputation and getting more money at the court. Ted questioned whether they had even been married, as he didn’t recognize his wife when he heard of her accusations of ‘suffering in silence for more than 16 years.’ Additionally, they tied the knot during a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand in 2000, meaning that their marriage may not be valid in the US.

However, everyone who Miami New Times interviewed sided with Robin, including Ted’s first wife, all three children, four former employees, and a live-in nanny. Robin’s lawyers also created over 1000 pages of text messages, family letters, police reports, and court filings dating to about 1985.

Ted replied with a question, ‘It’s all bullshit. If it was true that I was such a horrible guy, you think I’d have the show?’ Regardless, Discovery Channel quickly cut all ties with him. He admitted that he was temperamental during the first 25 years of his life, because he grew up in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood and had a father who never accepted excuses. Ted wanted to channel his energy correctly, so he started boxing and wrestling. Unfortunately, his parents’ divorce impeded his progress because he had to change high schools seven times. Ted attributes turning things around to becoming a used car salesman, property manager for his father’s lavish buildings, and filmmaker.

Ted violated his restraining order term in 2017

Ted’s story about potentially spending 10 years in prison started on 10 October 2017. While Ted stayed away from Robin, he was prohibited from carrying weapons, especially since he’d been accused of gun-related crimes nearly five decades before.

Ted got into trouble for taking 12 firearms and putting them inside the trunk of a classic car being shipped to Germany. One of those firearms was allegedly stolen, and Ted signed an agreement to take the rest home. He did so, but the agents were unaware that he couldn’t possess firearms. On 25 October, they raided his estate in Plantation, Florida, found 11 guns in his closet, took them away, and scheduled a jury trial for January 2018. They accused him of breaking the restraining order term that ‘explicitly prohibited the use, attempted use, and threatened use of physical force against an intimate partner.’ Additionally, he should already have surrendered all his firearms, which he obviously hadn’t.

Robin wrote a long letter that started with, ‘It’s unfortunate that it has come to this; however, something needed to change because I’m afraid that if the federal government hadn’t gotten involved, it might have cost me my life.’ Discovery’s MotorTrend made a public post to clarify that they stopped airing the old episodes, and producing a new season, and that they are no longer associated with Ted.

He faced ten years

Ted was informed that he could be sentenced to a decade in prison if convicted on all charges. However, the maximum that he could get was six months, because he didn’t have a prior conviction. His lawyer, Barry Wax, reminded the jury and the judge that he was a ‘non-violent first offender, with no significant criminal history.’ Judge Michael Moore agreed but reminded people of Ted’s arrest history, and noted that Ted managed to dodge previous charges without taking responsibility or accountability. Consequently, in April 2018, he sentenced Ted to three years on probation and a $2,000 fine.

Alex, Ted’s daughter, told the judge, ‘Ted is a monstrous man who has continued to lie and cheat his way through the political justice system. We are disappointed in you, Judge Moore. You have let a dangerous man run free despite your fears. What he does next is on you.’ According to court documents, Ted was later accused of violating his probation, but was officially free in November 2020 and wasn’t charged again.

He rebranded his car company

After going free, Ted allegedly fixed his behavior and went back to what he does best. He rebranded his car shop to Ted Vernon Specialty Automobiles Inc., started a new website, www.tedvernon.com, and began hiring employees and presenting his new inventory of vehicles. Additionally, while his LinkedIn states that the shop’s address has stayed the same, his website reveals that he moved his business to 21500 US Highway 27, Lake Wales, Florida, 33859.

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Moishe Mana bought his property

While some people thought that Ted wanted to avoid bad publicity and bad memories, the reason for the relocation was financial. Media reported in August 2018 that Moishe Mana, a real estate developer and billionaire businessman, purchased a large property in the North Miami Beach area. Ted’s car shop was on the land, and Moishe paid $10.5 million for the entire parcel, and promised to build a $20 million mixed-use office building with as many as 12 storeys. Ted’s company, TAM Investment Properties LLC, held more than half of the property, and received $6.5 million, while a private seller, Frank Soar, sold his portion for $4 million. That effectively removed any chances of “South Beach Classics” returning to the original site.

Ted remarried and got a new job

Although he rarely posts on social media, Ted revealed that he became engaged to Cindy Darrell in 2022, and that they married on 25 June 2023. His professional life is also flourishing – Max Wyler and Accord Productions fronted the money for the fifth “South Beach Classics” season without Robin in June 2019, and later scheduled the release date for 2023. He also said that Ted would be the leading cast member of “The Walking Ted,” a show where he goes to the beach and asks interesting questions of random people and notable individuals. Both shows would air on a regional TV network, Beach Channel, and the episodes would be uploaded to YouTube.

They also announced that the four seasons of “South Beach Classics” would be available on Hulu’s streaming service, and licensed previous episodes to Choppertown. This US production company is ‘the ultimate destination for motorcycle and classic and vintage vehicle enthusiasts, dedicated to the freedom and thrill of the open road.’ They began posting full episodes and edited chunks of Ted’s on-screen appearances on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Ted ceased posting via his @TedVernonOfficial Facebook page in April 2017, but is frequently active on his Instagram account, @ted_vernon.

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