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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:52 AM
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Congressman Bob Ney's downfall had Broward connections
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Congressman's downfall had Broward connections

BY DAN CHRISTENSEN
October 12, 2006


Congressman Bob Ney's guilty plea in a bribery conspiracy scheme last month stemmed in part from his dealings with a Broward ex-convict who did prison time for swindling Elvis Presley, and later worked as a paid mob snitch for the FBI.
Nigel Winfield, 69, of Plantation, is an airplane broker, former fixed-based operator at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and three-time felon.
In February 2003, Winfield played host to the Ohio Republican during a luxurious, three-day casino junket to London paid for by FN Aviation Systems, an aircraft sales and leasing company. Winfield and his partner, a Syrian named Fouad al-Zayat, owned the company.

The trip was arranged after Winfield and al-Zayat were introduced to Ney by two lobbyists, including a former staff aide to President Bush. FN Aviation hired those lobbyists because it wanted to sell airplanes and airplane parts to Iran, and hoped Ney could help get around a U.S. embargo on such sales. Ney agreed to help after accepting thousands of dollars in free gambling chips from al-Zayat, according to court records filed when Ney's guilty plea was announced.

Today, the London trip is part of a grab bag of corruption that Ney admits put his office up for sale. Another buyer: fallen super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Prosecutors have said Abramoff plied Ney with free meals, tickets, campaign contributions and a golf vacation in Scotland in exchange for Ney's influence on Capitol Hill and with federal officials like then-Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, who's now a U.S. senator.
But long before Winfield was hosting Ney, documents obtained by The Miami Herald show that he was providing the FBI with ''extensive information'' about mobsters, drug suspects, terrorists, and international arms traffickers.

snip

NBC News and Newsweek previously named both men. Newsweek also reported that after Ney's trip, he approached then-Secretary of State Colin Powell seeking an exemption that would allow FN Aviation to do business with Iran. The deal never happened, though, and Winfield and al-Zayat soon ended their partnership.
///snip
Washington lobbyist Roy Coffee, the ex-Bush aide who with ex-Ney chief of the David DiStefano was hired to lobby the House by Winfield and al-Zayat in 2003, would not talk about his former clients. But Coffee did release a statement saying the London trip ``was a legal and proper trip to discuss . . . a legitimate and legal humanitarian exemption for commercial aircraft and parts.''

snip


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