For quite a while now, I've contended that Brent Wilkes -- the spooked-up bribe-meister still described as a "defense contractor" by most mainstream publications -- ran a largely phoney string of businesses. Wilkes paid off Republican pols to get fat contracts; any actual work usually went to subcontractors who charged a lot less, and the profits were recycled back into Republican campaign warchests. (The same schemes took place during the Katrina clean-up: A company run by a G.O.P. good old boy would receive megadollars, while the subcontractor -- the local guy with the truck who did the actual labor -- received pennies.)
The wonderful Laura Rozen
received some correspondence which proves the point:
I am SO not surprised at the Wilkes scandal. I had a business connection with him in San Diego about two years ago and came away thinking that sooner or later I'd be reading about him on the front page, and not in a good way. I've toured the ADCS facility in Poway. It's like a corporate Taj Mahal, everything is super high-end. Lavish flower arrangements in the lobby, toilet paper in the bathrooms folded like a hotel room, marble everywhere. Weird thing is NO ONE seems to actually work there! Brent showed us his production floor and it was completely empty. Tons of huge, elaborate, obviously incredibly expensive equipment and no one using it. (Can you say "your tax dollars at work"?) This was when he'd just done the Panama mapping project and he was telling us about that. The only people I saw there were 4 or 5 20-something women wearing club clothes and fetching coffee and water for the all-male meetings. Every single one of them was in a tight-fitting, completely office-inappropriate outfit with major cleavage showing. It was so striking and so weird. They were like Bond girls, only not as classy. (Prediction: a sexual harrassment lawsuit or two in addition to his other problems. I'm sure those gals could tell some tales!)
Brent was known as a major wheeler-dealer and bragged about his lobbying connections a lot. He was hard to contact because he was always flying back to Washington. He promised a lot in the situation I knew him from but never delivered, just kept everyone hanging endlessly. I can't elaborate any further but suffice it to say, he lost all credibility with us and wasted a lot of our time. One other weird thing was that for such a high-roller his business advisors were not quality, talented people. Mostly yes-men and oily salesmen as far as I could see
Check out all his "businesses". The special events one is especially interesting. He'd throw a party in an elaborate, high-tech room at ADCS and give the catering business to his special events firm rather than paying for it directly. I'm not sure how this worked but it seemed very fishy at the time and seemed like he could make the company look successful this way...
But that's hardly all, folks...The drug plane connection:
Remember the drug plane -- the DC9 caught in Mexico hauling 5.5 tons of coke to the United States? As we saw earlier, the plane bore the logo of Skyway, a scam company put together by Brent Kovar, a noted con artist who -- just like Brent Wilkes -- brags about his CIA connections.(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)The Skyway scam is complex, as these things often tend to be. Basically, Kovar told investors that he held the patent on a new wireless data transmission technology, which -- he claimed -- would revolutionize aircraft-to-ground communications. Supposedly, Skyway bought the airliner to test out the communication system. But the system was a fake. Eventually, investors (some of them affluent Middle Easterners) came to understand that they would never see a return on the millions they had sunk into the company, and the matter ended up in bankruptcy court. That's when the plane was discovered hauling cocaine.
Skyway and Titan. Skyway has had a strange relationship with yet another defense contractor, Titan Corporation:
SkyWay Communications Holding Corp. (OTC BB: SWYC) and the Titan Corporation have entered into a teaming agreement for Titan to sell Skyways's high-speed airborne network services to the U.S. Government for use with selected military and homeland security applications.This is all very intriguing -- because Skyway's "services" (as investors discovered) were bogus.
Under terms of the contract, SkyWay grants The Titan Corporation the rights to market and sell SkyWay Systems and Services to Government customers. The services consist of real-time Video Teleconferencing, High-Speed Internet Access and Data, Telecommunications, In-Flight Video Surveillance, Air Filtration System Monitoring, Flight Management Avionics Data Link and Multiyear Data Archiving.
This blog's first post on this topic attracted some particularly interesting commentary, including the following:
Digging into the details of this patent, I'm astonished at the impudence of Mr. Kovar to declare this his invention. All of the components are common knowledge, the arrays, the pointers, even the idea of using a time tick to syncronize data and reduce the amount of data to be transmitted (this has been used in encryption for secure communciations long before). This begs the question, does Mr.Kovar have any serious background in programming or who coobled this mishmash together for Skyways?Even though Skyway peddled worthless goods -- and Titan must have known that they were worthless -- Titan promised to funnel millions of dollars' worth of business to Kovar's pseudo-company. Why?
And pls note that nowhere in the patent the special issues of using wireless ground to air radio transmission are addressed. Imho the problems that are asscociated with this (garbled transmissions may lead to loss of syncronicity, clock signals may be lost) will render this whole "invention" useless.
Working together. Now, why have I dealt with the Kovar con in the context of a dicussion of Wilkes? Because the ever-intriguing Daniel Hopsicker has found a somewhat indirect, but nevertheless intriguing link. Like Wilkes, Titan was a major G.O.P. contributor:
In addition to padding the Duke-ster’s pockets for those late-night poker cum hooker-fests at the Watergate Hotel, Titan was a major contributor to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, who returned the favor in a mock-heroic defense of Titan’s employees accused of torture and rape at Abu Ghraib prison.Skyway also heavily contributed to Republican causes.
The Titan executive who announced the strange deal with Skyway was one David Stinson. This individual, Hopsicker found, was the executive vice president of another defense firm, called Intergraph. Intergraph is a genuine firm; they have provided software to some renown companies, including Mobil and Bechtel. Although Hopsicker says that Intergraph is based in Annopolis, Maryland, the company claims that their main office is in Huntsville, Alabama.
According to Hopsicker, this same Intergraph -- under the direction of Stinson -- helped Wilkes' ADCS get its start.
Can our story become even more complicated? Oh yes. Googling the names Intergraph and ADCS will bring you to this this strange item from 1997. Sorry, folks, but we're going to have to talk about still another shadowy "defense" firm. This one is called TomaHawk II. The name derives from an alleged connection to Native Americans:
TomaHawk II (San Diego, CA) has received five orders totaling $1.4 million from Intergraph (Huntsville, AL). Under a previous subcontract agreement with Intergraph, TomaHawk II will provide Document Imaging and Conversion Services for the Department of Defense. Funding for the project comes from the Automatic Document Conversion Systems program (ADCS), whose budget will double in 1998 to $40 million. The contracts signify "a strong endorsement of the ADCS program," said TomaHawk president and CEO Steve Caira. All four branches of the military will be covered under the contract.This is awfully confusing. Why would a document conversion firm hire a document conversion firm? And why would Intergraph jump into the deal?
The matter becomes even more confusing when we learn that TomaHawk II eventually sued Wilkes. Let's go back to Laura Rozen, who will help our understanding...
So Wade learned his tricks of the trade from Wilkes, and Wilkes learned some of his tricks, the suit alleges, from Steve Caira, the owner of a San Diego-based document conversion company called TomaHawk II. [Tomahawk II is the supposedly Native American-owned spin-off of a document conversion firm Wilkes consulted for in the 1990s called Audre Recognition Systems -- before Wilkes ripped off the idea and started ADCS that directly competed with it]. And while Cunnigham was first Wilkes' and then Wade's benefactor, according to this lawsuit, Caira's benefactor was Rep. Duncan Hunter. What's also incredible if true is the lawsuit's allegation that Caira gave 15,000 stock shares in his company to the DoD official who awarded Caira's company, TomaHawk II, a Pentagon contract (facilitated by Hunter on the Appropriations committee).Pace-Capstone represents Indian tribes and the Mariana Islands. In other words, we are suddenly thrust back into Jack Abramoff territory.
And who lobbied for TomaHawk II? In one of those scenarios familiar from Wilkes' Group W Advisors' situation, TomaHawk II is both a registered lobbyist and a lobbying client of itself, and a client of another lobbying firm (The P.A.C.E. Companies, now Pace-Capstone), back in 1998. Get your head around that.
(As a side note, I should mention that back in the mid-'90s, various news stories started to uncover a series of scandals involving spooks, mobsters and shady "defense" contractors, all of whom were muscling their way onto the reservations. Using Indian tribes as a cover provides all sorts of advantages. If you are interested, try googling the names "Cabazon" and "Nichols." Just for a start.)
Da mob: To continue with the Tomahawk/Wilkes connection, let's consult an earlier Hopsicker story:
Among the founders was one Dennis R. Di Ricco of Portola Valley, a former attorney who resigned from the bar in 1989 because charges were pending against him. He was convicted later on tax and obstruction of justice charges...The exact interactions between Wilkes and TomaHawk remain murky, and probably always will. So let's simplify matters. Let's focus on what we know.
In TomaHawk's early days, Di Ricco was involved with Tom Casey, founder of Audre (which also went bankrupt) at the same time Brent Wilkes worked at the firm.
Audre went into bankruptcy because a judge declared that the company was jointly and severally responsible for payments to Casey's ex-wife.
Di Ricco testified he helped launder hundreds of thousands of dollars and supplied large quantites of cash for use as payola, in the largest record industry payola case in U.S. history, that of Robert Isgro, a record promoter indicted after he was seen meeting with members of the Gambino Mafia family in New York in 1986.
We know that TomaHawk and Wilke's ADCS somehow got hold of many a taxpayer dollar. We know that Intergraph, under David Stinson, was involved in their dealings. And we know that -- according to Hopsicker -- this same David Stinson moved to Titan and tossed a ton of money into Skyway, even though Skyway was running an obvious con.
So. Just how many plane-loads of coke entered the United States before the great bust? And who profited?