New owner of 'terror' flight school in Venice Fl, in huge Ponzi scheme, 3/20/2009 by Daniel Hopsicker.
Another owner of the flight school in Venice Florida that trained Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi to fly is in trouble with the law; current owner Arthur G. Nadel, 75, was arrested recently for running a Ponzi scheme which methodically looted investors in his Sarasota-based hedge funds of more than $300 million.
Nadel's arrest marks the second time in recent years that the owner of Huffman Aviation, the FBO at Venice Airport has been involved in crimes associated with the Mob.
Ponzi schemes, of course, are a trademark Mafia specialty. So, too, is the crime of heroin trafficking in which previous owner Wally Hilliard was implicated.
Nadel may have stolen as much as $350 million from his hedge fund investors, many of them middle-class retirees who do not fit the typical hedge fund investor profile of wealthy people willing to risk their entire investment.
New York tabloids, already in overdrive on the story of Bernard Madoff, instantly dubbed Nadel Mini-M, for Mini-Madoff. Before turning himself in late January, Nadel spent several weeks on the lam. Rumors spread that Nadel was already dead.
He wasn't... Instead he was flying above the clouds on a sleek luxury jet, from Sarasota to San Antonio to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans. His high-end Learjet 31-A offers performance matched by few other civilian airplanes; it cruises comfortably at 500 miles an hour, and at an altitude of 51,000 feet.
After Nadel went on the lam reporters discovered he had been a lawyer in New York who was disbarred in 1982 by the New York Supreme Court. Nadel 'kept' a client's $50,000 escrow check, and neglected to return it.
He was worried, at that time, according to Sarasota Private investigator Bill Warner (whose reporting on Nadel has outpaced the entire staff of the local Sarasota Herald-Tribune) over an unpaid $50,000 loan to a loan shark.
If Nadel was able to borrow $50,000 from a loan shark in New York in 1980, he already had connections with the Mob. Loan sharks are not listed in the New York City phone book.
Nadel used proceeds from the fraud to purchase what he re-named the Venice Jet Center at the Venice Airport, the same building whose blue awning became well-known internationally after the 9/11 attack as the home of dozens of young Arab men suspected of being terrorists learned to fly.
His "passion for aviation" led him to illegally divert $4 million to the Venice Jet Center and Tradewind LLC, an aviation company he owns which has aircraft and hangars in Georgia and North Carolina.
Managers of Nadel’s hedge funds told clients that their money was gone; that the man behind it had vanished; and that they were frankly not real hopeful any of it would ever be recovered.
Art Nadel now sits in the same Manhattan Federal Detention Center in New York City as Bernie Madoff, "Birds of a Feather" and all that.