September 8, 2011 | 10:09am
It seems Nevin Shapiro, the scrawny, debauched Ponzi schemer currently trying to dynamite University of Miami athletics, is even slimier than we thought. A woman now claims that Shapiro, along with his convicted felon stepdad, once helped launder drug profits for the PKK, a notorious Turkish terrorist group. The claims would be incredible -- except most of the facts stated in document provided to New Times and filed yesterday in federal court indeed seem to line up.
Nevin's step-father, a Canadian businessman named Richard Armand Adam, was in fact charged in 1997 with engineering a $6 million fraud.
The new filing by a co-defendant in that case claims a previously undisclosed part of the scheme involved laundering PKK drug money. After Adam was busted, Nevin and his mother, Ronnie, took over the fraudulent enterprise.
"The Adam-Shapiro crime family aided the PKK, a recognized terrorist enemy of the United States, through money laundering," charges Barbara Murray, a real estate agent who recruited investors for Adam and is appealing her conviction.
Maria Elena Perez, who is Nevin Shapiro's attorney, also represented Adam in the criminal case. She says Murray's claims are untrue.
"This is completely crazy on all points," she writes in an email to Riptide. "The issue of Mr. Adam's and Mr. Shapiro and his mother's ties to any terrorist group is a complete fabrication ... Barbara Murray is upset because she opted to go to trial ... and was convicted as a co-conspirator of Mr. Adam while Mr. Adam was fighting extradition in Canada."
Murray's 29-page complaint, filed in Fort Lauderdale's federal courthouse on Tuesday, lays out an international conspiracy that sounds like a spy film. In 1987, Ronnie Schapiro married Adam, an ex-pat Canadian
. His firm, RAA International, quickly expanded and the family upgraded from Miami Beach to a Lighthouse Point mansion and a 38-foot yacht.
That life fell apart in 1997
, when federal prosecutors charged Adam with running an "advance fee" loan scheme. Adam would collect cash up-front from businesses, promise huge loans at low rates, and then never deliver.
His financial base for that fraud was Luxembourg, a tiny European banking haven. When another broker got suspicious about the loans that never arrived, Adam flew the man to the country to show him accounts stuffed with tens of millions of dollars.
Murray contends she later ratted Adam out to the feds. Prosecutors, she says, never told her they suspected Nevin Shapiro's step-dad was cleaning cash for killers.
Adam used his stuffed Luxembourg bank accounts to launder drug profits for MED-TV, the propaganda arm of the PKK, Murray writes. The group, also called the Kurdish Workers Party, has killed almost 6,000 civilians in bombings and assaults since the mid-80s in a struggle to establish an independent Kurdish state in Turkey and Iraq.
What's more, Nevin and Ronnie Shapiro knew exactly what he was up to -- and took over his scheme when Adam fled his federal charges to his native Canada, Murray says.
Indeed, court documents confirm Adam had given the son his business and a home when he fled the country, she says. "In short ... the Adams-Shapiro crime family began in 1987 and ... that crime has continued until Nevin Shapiro was indicted," Murray says.
After Adam pled guilty to U.S. fraud charges in 2003, he was extradited to Luxembourg to face charges of terrorist financing there, according to news reports. It's not clear how that case was resolved, though Perez says he was cleared in court of any ties to the PKK or other terrorists. "Mr. Adam was not convicted of anything in Luxembourg," she says.
Murray, whom Riptide contacted at her home in Connecticut, declined to comment on her court claims.
Here's a copy of the legal filing: