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Zayden was jubilant that night. Ocean Drive magazine had awarded him a plaque for his charitable contributions and he was celebrating with friends. The drinks flowed freely.
Afterward the Lebanese gallant invited Nancy and several others to join him at the Living Room, a few blocks away. They drove to the nightclub in his white Rolls Royce, which mightily impressed her.
At the club Zayden forked over $100 for a VIP room. Then he and his entourage reclined on couches and quaffed champagne. As they were leaving hours later, the valet decided Zayden was too drunk to drive, so Zayden's friend Alex Perez took the wheel. Perez dropped off Nancy at her Meridian Avenue apartment before delivering home the big spender.
Twenty-four hours later the party was over and no one was happy. At 11:30 p.m. on September 20 Nancy stumbled into the Miami Beach Police Department tearfully recounting a tale of kidnapping and rape. (New Times is not printing Nancy's last name because she alleges a sexual assault.) Zayden contends her characterization of their tryst is pure fiction. The two had consensual sex, he asserts. "She was all over me, that woman. She kept pressuring me to find a hotel room. But I don't like hotel rooms. She kept saying what she would do to me. She wanted to give me a massage."
Nancy couldn't be reached for comment. Friends say she is living in New York City.
Early the next morning Miami Beach Det. William Turner investigated, then arrested Zayden. But his inquiry didn't clear up things. Almost as soon as Zayden was behind bars, the case against him started to fall apart. A month later the State Attorney's Office (SAO) dropped the charges.
Since then the investigation has taken on a life of its own. Another Miami Beach police officer, Charlie Seraydar, alleges Turner purposely ignored exculpatory witnesses in an effort to collar an affluent and well-known Miamian. Seraydar was even suspended from the Miami Beach force for 30 days this past month because he allegedly steered witnesses to the defense. Now the two officers accuse each other of lying and more. Their actions provide insight into the subjective nature of law enforcement.
The police department administration declined to comment for this story because of pending litigation. But Capt. Charles Press, commander of Miami Beach's Internal Affairs Unit, says he has found nothing improper in Zayden's arrest and the investigation that ensued. (The department opened an internal review of the case after New Times called.) Even police know when desire and money meet behind the velvet ropes in South Beach, truth is often left off the guest list.
Detective Turner is no dummy. His supervisors have noted his intelligence in the past. After joining the police force in 1981, he earned a law degree from St. Thomas University.
But he has struggled over the years with physical and ethical lapses. When he first joined the department, supervisors cautioned him at least twice about his weight problem. In 1987 internal affairs officers caught Turner abusing his position as a cop. They taped him offering classified police information from the department's computer system to private investigator Phillip Hobbs in exchange for lucrative off-duty jobs. According to the disciplinary report, Turner told Hobbs he was being permanently assigned to the Special Investigations Unit. "For your purposes that will be good because I'll have access to all the computers in the fucking world," he said. He was suspended for six days.
But the episode didn't derail his career. On several occasions Turner's superiors recommended him for officer of the month. He was cited in May 1988 for arresting and coaxing a confession from a child molester. In 1991 the brass promoted him to sergeant and in 1995 he became a detective. Obviously the police department trusted that Bill Turner could handle anything that came his way.
Then Nancy walked into the station and every decision Turner made came back to haunt him. (Turner declined to talk to New Times, explaining that his superiors forbade him to discuss the investigation.)
This is the tale Nancy told Turner on the evening of September 20, according to the detective's report:
The morning after Nancy met Zayden, he invited her to lunch at the News Cafe on Ocean Drive. Zayden showed up on Rollerblades and told her he had to skate around for a few minutes to ease a hangover. Then he sat down opposite Nancy and ordered a Lite beer. They chatted until Napoleon Pacheco, the owner of a local hair salon and a friend of Zayden, walked up to their table. The playboy asked to borrow Pacheco's Ocean Drive apartment so he could take a nap. Nancy said she wanted to get a haircut, but Zayden convinced her to join him until he fell asleep.