A South Beach Love Story

A playboy's steamy sexual liaison leads to a tangled investigation and a police feud

Turner, meanwhile, suspecting collusion between Seraydar and the defense team, filed a complaint with internal affairs.

By now the playboy's defense team had assembled an impressive list of witnesses, who told a tale drastically different from Nancy's.

*Napoleon Pacheco, who lent Nancy and Zayden his apartment, said the couple was intimate before the alleged rape. She sat on the playboy's lap, kissing him. Pacheco's neighbor Spencer Saffran said the pair "appeared to be on friendly terms" when exiting the apartment.

*Drummond said Nancy did not appear frightened or injured when he met the couple outside Pacheco's apartment afterward. She may have been drinking. Drummond called his own quotations in Detective Turner's report "bullshit."

*Alex Perez said he saw the couple after the alleged incident at Zayden's house. He said he saw Zayden reclining on the couch as Nancy kissed him.

*Real estate agent R.S. Schmitt, a friend of Zayden who stopped by the Pine Tree Drive house that night, said Nancy "kiss[ed Zayden] amorously, lovingly" as he lay on the couch. Then the couple went upstairs together.

*Zayden's maid Ligia Urieta said she saw the couple kissing and hugging at the house, adding that Nancy gave no indication she was being held against her will. She added that no one could be locked inside Zayden's bedroom -- the locks don't work that way.

Perhaps most telling is testimony from the man with whom Nancy stayed for a month after the alleged rape. He is a photo imagist who asked not to be identified. "I wasn't sexual with her at all, but she was flirtatious and I thought to myself, If I was just raped, I wouldn't be flirting around like this." He asserts he helped her create a phony modeling portfolio by superimposing her face on the cover of Marie Claire magazine and in Chanel and Missoni ads. Nancy paid $300, then canceled the check, he says. (She eventually paid.) "When she came to me, I believed her. Now I don't," the friend says.

Nancy's ex-husband Hans, a former model now living in North Carolina, describes her as a "gold digger." She has not been in touch with him or their young son since 1993. She was obsessed with dating famous people, he says. In fact she went out with Mike Tyson and a Swedish soccer star.

Chris Brown was the assistant state attorney in charge of Zayden's case. Now in private practice, he recalls Nancy sobbing in his office. "Either she was very scared and felt very violated -- she was a very good actress -- or she was very unstable," Brown recounts. "She convinced me something had happened."

But Brown's interview with cabbie Homayountash raised doubts on several counts, he says. The driver cast doubt on Nancy's case by claiming the model told him she expected payment from the Zayden, making it seem as though she was an escort. Then the cabbie aroused the prosecutor's suspicion by admitting Zayden's attorneys had taken care of the domestic violence warrant.

The driver's statement apparently had been exchanged for the lawyer's help, a conflict of interest, Brown comments.

Taylor counters that he did nothing improper: "I can understand Chris thinking that. Every time Chris got to a witness, I had been there first. It drove him crazy."

On October 29, 1997, Brown dropped the case against Zayden. "It was going to be his word against hers. It was almost unprosecutable." More specifically as his close-out memo states, "sworn testimony of cab driver ... directly contradicts victim's allegations. Victim's version of events does not lend credence to rape charge."

Yet Zayden isn't satisfied. He contends police had improperly arrested him. He contends he was depressed for months following the incident and he couldn't work. He entered therapy for a short time, and claims he's still scared police are out to get him. "I won't go on to an elevator alone with someone I don't know," he says. He claims he no longer goes out at night.

Drummond died from an apparent heart attack April 5. Zayden says Drummond was never a bodyguard or a chauffeur, just a friend.

Seraydar is still fuming about his 30-day suspension. He claims Turner committed official misconduct and perjury, yet no one investigated his charges. He has prepared a whistle-blower lawsuit against the department. "I look at guys like Turner and I think to myself, Why doesn't the department do anything?" he says. "I saved an innocent guy from jail, and my own department went after me for it.

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