Pilot in 9/11Intrigue Flew for Russian Mob

everypicturetellsastory21A bitter fight to redact portions of the explosive final report of an official  British Inquiry into systemic corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands backfired last week when news of the redactions caused a firestorm of protest and the full report was leaked to freedom of information website WikiLeaks.

Some of the most sensitive redactions (pdf) in the British Commission of Inquiry's Final Report concern much-traveled pilot Michael Francis Brassington, who first rose to the level of public scrutiny as co-pilot on a Lear jet (N351WB) belonging to the owner of a flight school that at the time had been teaching Mohamed Atta to fly was seized by DEA Agents who found 43 lbs. of heroin onboard.

The controversy over the redacted report  has ironically shed light on a previously-unknown connection between Brassington and a second pilot, Wolfgang Bohringer,  whose name also surfaces regularly in the background to the intrigue in Florida swirling around Mohamed Atta during the run-up to the 9/11 attack.

Brassington and Bohringer were not previously known to have been connected.

The controversy over the unredacted report changed that, when the resulting publicity illuminated dark corners in the background of the man whose deep pockets were keeping secret the full extent of Michael Misick and Michael Francis Brassington’s crimes.

shark26Michael Brassington—still a close associate of Wally Hilliard’s, according to a former U.S. Customs Agent who has seen his file—and Wolfgang Bohringer,  an "associate" of Mohamed Atta's  close enough for Atta to have frequently referred to him as “my brother,” have both been pilots for the Russian Mob.

The Tempest in a Turks & Caicos Teapot erupted when the British Commission of Inquiry into corruption in Prime Minister Michael Misick’s government backed down from releasing its full report in the face of an angry campaign threatening media outlets with lawsuits by lawyers for a shady Eastern European billionaire who stands accused in U.S. Senate documents of involvement in money laundering, as well as ties to international organized crime.

A weeks-long firestorm of negative publicity ensued, which ended when  WikiLeaks  published the full report. It was a rare victory for a free press and the democratic concept which Walter Cronkite famously called “the people’s right to know.”

Prime Minister Michael Misick: Gangsta' with fleet of Gulfstreams Jets

gangsta1Brassington figured prominently in the British Commission’s report on Misick’s corruption, as not only the personal pilot but Misick’s partner-in-crime as well.

As we first reported earlier this year, the Gulfstream jet Misick and Brassington were jetting around the world on belonged to a former White House Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton named Jeffrey Watson, who was once called “Florida's insider at the White House” by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.  Watson is currently a Washington lobbyist.

The report shows the two men conspired to steal several million dollars from the coffers of the now-bankrupt Turks & Caicos government. Misick's crimes included a highly-publicized rape, intimidation and beating of rivals, as well as his wife,  with whom he had several knockdown (literally) fights which required both to seek emergency hospital care.

In front of the British inquiry, Misick was portrayed in vivid testimony by his former wife (pdf), American TV-actress Lisa-Raye Misick-McCoy, as being a dripping-in-gold-jewelry gangsta in command a small fleet of Gulfstream luxury jets traveling all over the world.

Brassington is a key figure in several recent scandals, fingered in a military procurement scandal in his native Guyana recently.

He also goes on trial in Federal Court (pdf) in Newark New Jersey later this year, where he is charged with 23 felony counts accusing him of putting the lives of passengers in danger in the near-fatal crash of one of his charter company’s luxury jets at Teterboro Airport outside New York City in 2005.

Wally Hilliard's heroin pilot had get out of jail free card

our man in guyana22Most notably, as reported in this space and  quoted extensively in overseas media,  Brassington's "checkered past" included a stint as co-pilot on 39 weekly flights between Florida and Venezuela of the Lear jet (N351WB) which was owned by Huffman Aviation’s owner Wallace J. Hilliard, and was aboard the plane when it was finally busted by DEA agents at Orlando Executive Airport in July of 2000 carrying 43 lbs. of heroin.

At the same time, pilot Wolfgang Bohringer, a close associate of Mohamed Atta's in Florida, was flying for notorious financier Viktor Kozeny, accused of involvement in the Russian Mob’s successful looting of hundreds of millions of dollars in Czechoslovakia during the privatization frenzy which took place in the 199o’s after the fall of Communism.

Kozeny is currently fighting extradition from the Bahamas to face charges of massive fraud in Federal Court in New York.

His former pilot Bohringer was himself the subject of a well-publicized manhunt in the South Pacific in 2006. The FBI issued a "terror alert" seeking his arrest.

Kozeny at one point in the mid-90's controlled one-third of the entire Czechoslovakian economy. With his ill-gotten gains, Kozeny tried to buy off top officials in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan to gain control of that country's state-owned oil company.

One man convicted in the scheme, Hans Bodmer, belonged to a network of Russian oligarchs that includes Pyotr Aven, accused by a Russian corruption task force of drug trafficking.

Russian oligarch "draws muscle from Slovak Intelligence"

don-mario-hoffman1These unsavory associations did not prevent Kozeny from partnering in the Azeri scheme with a managing director of Hank Greenburg's American Insurance Group (AIG), recently bailed out by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $166 billion.

Greenberg was forced to step down amid Eliot Spitzer’s probe while New York Attorney General, which was rumored to involve major international money-laundering operations spanning several generations. His firm was founded by Cornelius V. Starr, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative in Southeast Asia during World War II whose nephew Kenneth Starr later became President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater antagonist.

Kozeny, who owns his own private island in the Bahamas, was traveling on an Irish passport before being arrested. His luxury jets were used during the Northern Ireland peace talks by the talk’s chairman, former Senator George Mitchell.

Although he today stands accused on two continents of defrauding thousands of people around the world, he has so far successfully—and inexplicably– fought extradition to the U.S. to face felony charges of massive financial fraud.

The man funding efforts to keep Misick and Brassington’s crime secret, Mario Hoffman, is a full-fledged Russian Mob oligarch.

"The Pirate and the Barracuda"

kozeny_bahamy1In written evidence presented to the UK Parliament as well as to the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Hoffman's company Istrokapital was described as a conduit for “Russian money” and a front for money laundering,” described as having the “strongest ties to the underworld,” which reportedly “draws its muscle from former officers of the Slovak intelligence service.”

Hoffman was the first registered stockbroker in Czechoslovakia. He grew fabulously rich in Viktor Kozeny’s "privatization vouchers" scam.

Viktor Kozeny is known around the world  as “The Pirate of Prague.”

Today Mario Hoffman’s sleek white yacht regularly patrols off the coast of the Turks & Caicos.

Hoffman's yacht is named  “The Barracuda of Prague.”

Michael Brassington—still a close associate of Wally Hilliard’s, according to a former U.S. Customs Agent who has seen his file—and Wolfgang Bohringer, formerly a close enough associate of Mohamed Atta’s for Atta to refer to him frequently as “my brother,” have both been pilots for the Russian Mob.

Stay tuned.

Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.