owner of the flight school in Venice FL where the two hijackers who crashed
airliners into the World Trade Center took flight lessons, was arrested last May
assaulting his 17-yr old step-daughter outside a sports bar in Naples, Florida.
78-year old Wallace J.
Hilliard of Naples FL was
misdemeanor battery on May 28 2008, according to Collier County, FL arrest
"The victim was sitting on the
sidewalk crying," stated
Naples Police officer Melvin Payne, first to arrive
at the scene.
Hilliard stopped his car behind the
girl as she walked down a street
outside the "Sports Clip" bar in Naples,
the police report states, and became
He began pushing her, the
step-daughter reported. She stated she asked him, "Are you going to push me again like when I was a
'That's when Hilliard smacked
her in the face, stated the police report.
Hilliard and the girl (we'll protect
her name) had been job-hunting.
"He stopped his car behind
her as she was walking," an eyewitness told police. "Then he walked up behind
her and hit her twice in the back of the head."
The witness told Hilliard to
stop hitting the girl.
Hilliard's reply was, "Do you
really want to get involved in my personal life?"
"I do if you're going to hit girls," said the good
Samaritan. Then he called the cops.
Secretive financier' owned Mohamed Atta's flight school
daughter involved in the altercation with Hilliard has since relocated to Utah.
In the wake of Hilliard's arrest
several Naples residents who socialize with Hilliard contacted us to express
outrage about his behavior.
"In public, and at church,
they are the epitome of a good family," wrote one disapproving neighbor.
closed doors, not so much."
their comments it was possible to piece together an account of the turbulent
private life of the 78-year old Hilliard.
His wife, Patricia, is at 46
thirty-two years his junior. She has five
children from a previous
marriage. After the two wed, Hilliard adopted her children. He also adopted
his new bride's Mormon faith.
Several sources told us that Hilliard moved back to Naples from Apopka, FL last year to
file for divorce. Wife Patricia and children soon
followed, and the two reconciled.
"Mrs. Hilliard has made it known,"
sniffed one local matron who sees her socially. "She is waiting for Hilliard to
die so that she can keep his money."
Making this sordid tale
of more than puerile interest: Hilliard played an as-yet
undetermined role in the curious choice of Mohamed Atta and his terrorist
compatriots to attend a flight
school in a sleepy retirement community, Venice, Florida, whose attraction for the
hijackers remains an enduring mystery.
After leaving Venice in December of
2000, Mohamed Atta and bodyguard
Marwan Al-Shehhi returned there on three separate occasions during
the six weeks of their lives, according to Brad Warrick, who rented the
duo three separate cars from his car rental agency in Fort Lauderdale.
No one knows why.
in 3000 deaths
Compounding the sense of
mystery and cover-up surrounding the terrorists' stay in Venice is another
than three weeks after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi began flying lessons on
July 3, 2000 at Huffman Aviation in Venice FL, Huffman owner Wally
Learjet was swarmed by DEA agents
brandishing submachine guns
after it landed, on July 25,
at Orlando Executive Airport.
The Lear, agents
discovered, was carrying 43 lbs. of heroin, an amount known in the trade as
Orlando Sentinel called it "the largest seizure of heroin in Central Florida
we're placing online, and in perpetuity,
the DEA affidavit,
the forfeiture hearing regarding Hilliard's Learjet.
virtually unprecedented action, the DEA argued that Hilliard was not merely an
innocent aircraft owner. He hadn't just been victimized and remained unaware
while crafty drug traffickers chartered his plane.
Hilliard lost the plane.
A typical day at the 'office'
retiring to Naples in 1996, Hilliard hobnobbed with an assortment of
decidedly uncharacteristic of circles a retired-to Florida insurance
executives might normally travel in.
A retired insurance executive
from Green Bay Wisconsin, Hilliard appears to be the last person anyone would
suspect of up-to-their-necks involvement in international intrigue, drug
trafficking, or geo-political stratagems.
Aviation mechanic Dave Montgomery, known as “Jet
Dave” at the Naples Airport, thinks that may have been the point. Montgomery
witnessed a secretive meeting between Hilliard and the founder of Waste
garbage king Wayne Huizenga, conducted entirely inside a helicopter on the
tarmac at Naples airport.
Huizenga, who at that time was also the owner of
the Miami Dolphins, flew in on a chopper with a Dolphins helmet emblazoned
on the side, Montgomery said. Hilliard went out to meet it, and got in.
Then the two men then sat inside the helicopter for
almost an hour.
"And it was hot that day in Naples,"
the aviation mechanic said. "And they just sat there, in the sun."
Steamy, unseemly, & busted for heroin.
flight manager Danielle Clarke told us
Hilliard didn't act like someone who had retired.
Naples was in the middle of the
action. 9/11 hijackers Atta and Marwan flew there regularly.
"The man quickly purchased—and in very short
order—a fleet of fifteen jets. He spent between $30 and $40 million on planes.
He still (in 2003) has 20 very expensive airplanes left, including Lear
35s, and Gulfstreams.”
Clarke, a British aviatrix who came to Florida
after her British pilot husband died, snorts at Hilliard's attempt at portraying
a “pious man."
“Wally came in quite a bit, seemed very
compassionate, made a lot of references to God,” she said. “You’d be talking
about business; then all of a sudden he’d mention the Good Lord."
She waved a hand dismissively.
"It got to be a bit
Especially in light of the fact that
Hilliard’s taste in
secretaries was particularly un-Godly. Summer (Hilliard's personal secretary)
was 5 foot 7, long blond hair, and a real looker, Danielle Clarke said.
"She wore exceedingly short skirts and very low cut
tops," Clarke remarked tartly.
"You struggled to find a bit of cloth on the
Also, at some point in there,
22-year old Summer Jeffries was busted for
heroin at the airport.
A 'loan' to Jerry
In the seven years since 9/11 Wally
Hilliard has remained embroiled in controversy.
For example, in Jerry Falwell’s
Lynchburg, VA in 2002 a previously-unknown company housed inside Hilliard’s
Huffman Aviation in Venice managed to win a large government contract at
Lynchburg’s Airport, under circumstances that left aviation observers there
Several years earlier Hilliard had
"loaned" Jerry Falwell $1 million to bailout his failing religious enterprise, a
loan the televangelist never repaid.
When it won the big contract,
Britannia had two employees and a bank balance of $500. Their main competitor
had $45 million. In cash.
Hilliard is currently the subject of
a multi-jurisdictional fraud investigation into a scheme which may have
cost investors as much as $100 million. The State of Florida Office of
Financial Investigations and the FBI have interviewed witnesses, including over
50 people, mostly from Wisconsin, who lost millions.
Hilliard never alerted investors
that he was under investigation, had a federal tax liability going back to 2001,
and had been denied an airline license by the FAA.
Tommy Barranza is reportedly currently under suspicion for structuring cash
transactions so Hilliard could avoid currency reporting.
Hilliard is suspected of
funneling large amounts of cash to the Bahamas.
Not in Florida baby doll
at the U.S. Dept of Transportation reveal that between August and December
of 2006, Prestige Airways flew 419 flights between Florida and Haiti.
80 flight a month. Prestige used another "sham corporation" formed by Wally
Hilliard, Air Solutions LLC, to actually fly the flights for very
Typical of Hilliard's "boxes-within-boxes" business approach, Air Solutions,
itself a dummy front company, was managed by a third company.
Guess who owns Badger Air.
Frequent Hilliard "business associate" Tommy Barranza was along for a piece of the action, as he was
when Discover Air, a Hilliard-owned
flight school in Orlando,
was busted out, its assets transferred illegally to a Hilliard-controlled parent company.
holding the bag in that caper were flight students, who lost their life savings. It wasn't
pretty. Some appeared ruined for life.
least three million got siphoned out of ATA and into Discover Air," an attorney
for the students told us. "The money flowed out of the country to the Bahamas."
Nothing came of the investigation.
friends in high places, including former Florida Secretary of State
Katherine Harris, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
a recent settlement hearing, a woman who recently sued Hilliard said she
asked Hilliard if he ever worried about going to jail.
in Florida, baby doll," Hilliard replied. "No one ever goes to jail in Florida."