King Con Returns

A bumbling justice system has allowed self-proclaimed AIDS miracle worker Basil Wainwright to continue peddling hope -- with harrowing results

Despite the arrests, many PAI followers maintain Wainwright and Lewis are the victims of a nefarious conspiracy hatched by the big pharmaceutical companies to keep ozone from assuming its rightful place as a wonder drug. "I think Wainwright's honestly trying to help people," says William Cave, a Fort Lauderdale man who manufactures a machine he says destroys cancerous tumors with microwave heat. "Why don't you write an expose about the American Medical Association?"

Billy Austin, who loaned $10,000 to PAI's cause this past June, agrees. "I've used Wainwright's machine on animals and I've seen the results with my own eyes," the South Miami veterinarian insists. "But of course I'm concerned I won't get my money back. Especially if the government doesn't let Wainwight do his work."

One Coral Gables pediatrician, who says he routinely uses ozone to treat patients, believes Wainwright's most recent arrest is merely evidence of the powerful forces aligned against him. The doctor, who put $50,000 into PAI in July, threatened to sue New Times if his name appeared in print.

Delp contends investors aren't the only ones Wainwright has duped. "Basil used to laugh about how he has fooled the doctors into believing he has a bad heart," Delp recalls. "He got himself appointed a free lawyer in his [federal] fraud case by claiming he was indigent. Indigent? He's got a $50,000 speedboat that costs $300 a month just to dock."

Indeed, the federal government is proving to be Wainwright's choicest rube. Thanks to judicial dawdling, the defendant, who was indicted two years ago, has yet to stand trial on the ten pending federal counts of fraud, which could send him to prison for twenty years. Wainwright's voluminous court record shows that he has been granted half a dozen new trial dates by four different judges. On two ocassions, federal prosecutors endorsed the delays. The case has languished for so long that one of the government's primary witnesses has suffered a relapse of her cancer, which caused yet another postponement.

Faced with the embarrassment of Wainwright's most recent arrest, federal prosecutors did finally haul him back into custody at a March 19 bond revocation hearing. The inventor sighed pitifully as Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Herzog presented Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages with credit card records that documented his trips to California, Texas, Nassau, and beyond. Loyal investors might have been intrigued to learn that the American Express bills averaged more than $10,000 per month. Wainwright, Herzog added, was more than two years overdue on his tourist visa.

Unrepentant, the tortured inventor insisted that he never knew his bond agreement forbade him to leave South Florida A a stance he maintained even after Herzog showed him his very own signature on a form detailing the conditions of his bond.

"I don't think there's much of an argument," Ungaro-Benages said. "The defendant's claim of ignorance in this situation is a little disingenuous. Bond is remanded."

Wainwright made one last, gasping effort: "I swear to you, your honor! I swear by Almighty God I had no idea!"

The judge cast him a tired look, as she banished him to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. "I would suggest to you, sir, that this is willful ignorance," she announced. "If it's ignorance at all.

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