Donald Sterling has unsavory links with the owner of the New York City boutique hotel where his former mistress was beaten up Sunday night.
Four developments during the past few days in New York City offer dramatic evidence that questions recently raised here (and elsewhere) about the links to organized crime of real estate mogul, sexual sleazeball, casual racist, and soon-to-to-ex LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling are both serious and well-founded.
The first thing that occurred has already received lots of coverage. The woman who blew the whistle on Sterling’s casual racism, his former mistress V Stiviano, was badly beaten Sunday night by two white thugs in hoodies at a swank boutique hotel in New York City.
The second development involves the venue where the beatdown occurred, whose significance remains largely unknown. The Hotel Gansevoort, outside whose doors Stiviano was assaulted, belongs to one William Achenbaum.
Until just three weeks before being busted, Hotelier Achenbaum had “owned”— as a straw front man for the CIA—a Gulfstream II luxury jet (N987SA) that was caught carrying 4 tons of cocaine in the Yucatan as part of the same operation.
During the time the two men controlled the plane, it made numerous trips to the U.S. base in Guantanamo, the McClatchy Newspapers group reported, flying extraordinary renditions for the CIA.
Achenbaum’s partner in the hotel, Arik Kislin of Long Island, whose family is repeatedly linked to the Russian Mob in published reports, also owned the Long Beach CA air charter company, Air Rutter Intern'l, offered the Gulfstream II for charter.
Unsavory links to the global drug trade
Are these facts at all relevant to the current tawdry Donald Sterling saga? Absolutely. Because Donald Sterling and William Achenbaum both share an unsavory link to an expatriate Saudi named Ramy El Batrawi, a longtime lieutenant of notorious CIA fixer Adnan Khashoggi.
El Batrawi and Achenbaum both owned airplanes used in a drug trafficking enterprise in Florida between 2005-2008 that top DEA officials in Miami called an out of control “rogue operation” of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Tampa.
For his part, El Batrawi has made “fronting” for the CIA, with planes and even airlines, into a career. During Iran Contra, he posed as the owner and president of an airline in Miami called Jetborne that secretly flew Oliver North’s TOW missiles to the mullahs in Iran.
Later court testimony, during bankruptcy proceedings, revealed that Jetborne had all along been a CIA proprietary airline.
"Closest thing to a real scandal we're like to see hereabouts, nowadays"
In July 2003, the drug trafficking operation that DEA officials say was being protected by federal agents in the Tampa ICE Office received a second DC-9 (N12ONE), “sold” or “transferred” or just ‘passed along” to the operation by Ramy El Batrawi.
The operation, called Operation Mayan Jaguar, would soon blow up into the closest thing to a real scandal that anyone is likely to see in America for a long time.
It resulted in the forced sale of America’s 4th largest bank, Wachovia, after that bank was discovered to be laundering drug money from Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel used to purchase a fleet of 50 American aircraft to be used as drug planes.
Links between recent owners of the two drug planes, first discovered during an examination of FAA registration records, suggested a long-running and continuing criminal conspiracy to engage in massive drug trafficking.
Before the Gulfstream II business was “parked” in the name of New York real estate developer Achenbaum and his partner Kislin with ties to the Russian Mob, the plane had passed through the hands of a secretive Midwestern media baron named Stephen Adams, also a Republican fund-raiser extraordinaire (he was one of the ‘elite’ Bush’s Rangers), who was personally buying over $1 million of billboard ads for George W. Bush for his 2000 Presidential election bid.
Scammers, fraudsters, grifters & bunco artists of the national security state
SkyWay, the company whose DC-9 was busted in April 2006 in the Yucatan with 5.5 tons of cocaine, for example, had been founded the year before by a slippery Miami attorney named Michael Farkas.
According to SEC filings, Stephen Adams and Michael Farkas jointly control Holiday RV Superstores, Inc., used by mastermind Adnan Khashoggi in the complicated securities fraud which stole as much as $300 million from investors and taxpayers.
Companies Farkas controlled, like Holiday RV and Imperial Credit, were full partners in the stock manipulation scheme, along with Stephen Adams' company, which passed on the Gulfstream II luxury jet to William Achenbaum.
In an example of extremely sloppy tradecraft, Khashoggi and El Batrawi’s partners in the massive fraud were men who’d provided planes to the drug trafficking operation, making “plausible deniability” something of a sticky wicket.
“The complex sale of the Gulfstream II jet and its end in the Mexican jungle highlight the increasingly complicated illicit drug trade,” read the McClatchy Newspapers’ account on September 29, 2007.
From 'whack-a-mole' to 'hide the pea,' its still a sordid business
The ‘players” were an ecumenical cast of international characters: Republican fund-raiser Adams, Saudi arms dealer Khashoggi, oligarchs in the Russian Mob, elements of American military and civilian intelligence who populated the executive ranks at SkyWay, and a large but dirty San Diego defense contractor called Titan Corp. that would soon get even larger when it was merged into L3, one of today’s behemoth defense contractors.
What this means, should any courageous federal prosecutor take note, is that the drug plane’s rapid series of ownership changes are nothing more than sham transactions, part of the CIA’s traditionally sophisticated game of “hide the pea” designed to conceal the aircraft’s true owners. From what we’ve begun to learn of Sterling, he appears to fit right in.
Just knowing unsavory characters who are also acquainted is hardly a crime. What involvement does Donald Sterling have in the sordid business?
The answer comes several months after the SEC charges Ramy El-Batrawi and his boss Adnan Khashoggi, in April 2006, with masterminding a massive financial fraud that resulted in investor and taxpayer losses of more than $100 million (The figure later doubled.)
The two Saudis were the lead actors in a massive financial fraud that earned the name Stockwalk, that complemented the drug trafficking operation by using stock from the same companies—led by Khashoggi and El Batrawi’s company, GenesisIntermedia—that had been supplying drug planes.
The 'other' Donald issues a bizarre press release
Donald Sterling enters the action just as the two Saudis are being hammered by bad publicity from their recent indictment, which gets so bad that both men consider going on the lam to avoid the police. Khashoggi eventually will, living quite comfortably, according to a source in Palm Beach Florida, in a guest cottage on the grounds of Donald Trump’s Mar a Largo Mansion.
At this crucial moment Sterling steps in to help stem the tide of bad publicity swamping Khashoggi and El Batrawi’s efforts to move on to another scam. Sterling, of course, has considerable public relations clout. He regularly buys full-page ads touting his charitable achievements in the Los Angeles Times.
In early August Donald Sterling names Ramy El Batrawi the winner of Sterling’s non-existent “Humanitarian of the Year Award” for El Batrawi’s (also non-existent) efforts to solve the problem of the homeless on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.
No one was more surprised at being named “Humanitarian of the Year” than Ramy El-Batrawi himself, judging by his reaction. He freely admits to the LA Times that he’s made no contribution of money or time to helping the homeless.
But it’s what happened in the aftermath of the Sterling mistress beat-down that provides the biggest shock.
Did CNN cave before the bell?
Sterling’s former mistress V Stiviano was in New York to appear in an hour-long interview scheduled with Anderson Cooper on CNN Monday night.
After the beating, her camp leaks to the press that Sterling’s former mistress “started getting death threats almost immediately after Sterling’s racist rants — which she recorded — were made public,” said a well-placed source to Radar Online, which was consistently out in front of the pack on the story.
“Most of the threats were made on social media, “the source continued, “and this is one of the reasons why she has scaled back her activity. It has been very scary for V, and she also hired a bodyguard.”
But plucky Ms V is undeterred, her attorney tells reporters late Sunday night. “Stiviano will still be on Anderson Cooper’s show Monday night. No one will intimidate her.”
Maybe no one will intimidate Stiviano. But somebody sure did get to CNN.
A story nobody is talking about…yet
Just hours before the scheduled sit-down, and with no explanation, CNN removed Anderson Cooper from the broadcast. Producers notified Stiviano that Cooper was unavailable, and that Chris Cuomo would now be conducting the interview.
Stiviano immediately backed out. Thanks but no thanks, the former mistress’ replied. Nothing against Cuomo, her attorney explained. “But Anderson had previously met with V and Donald Sterling several weeks ago when he flew out to Los Angeles. Her camp has a relationship with Anderson.”
Makes sense. What doesn’t make sense: Who kept Anderson Cooper from doing an interview he’d already prepared for? And why?
To put it bluntly: Who got to CNN?
Police Commissioner comes down with virulent case of hoof in mouth
What happened next, the 4th development, is possibly the most revealing. On Monday night NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton weighs in with gratuitous comments about his feelings towards Sterling’s former mistress.
Asked about V Stiviano’s lawyer’s claim that she was punched out by a pair of N-word-spewing punks outside a Meatpacking District hot spot on Sunday night, Bratton said he wished Donald Sterling’s infamous ex had never shown up in the Big Apple.
“I wasn’t even aware she was in town,” he stated. “We would have hoped that she would stay on the West Coast.”
A follow-up question to Bratton I’d have loved to hear someone ask: “Commissioner Bratton, who do you mean by ‘we’?”
Up for the lead in "Vile little Man"
Given Sterling’s unsavory links with William Achenbaum, owner of the New York City boutique hotel where V Stiviano was beaten up, makes Bratton’s comments seem particularly menacing and gratuitous.
The FBI has long touted its success in critically weakening the forces of organized crime through its efforts to break up the Mafia in New York City.
But they clearly remain powerful enough to pull strings at CNN.