Con Man Turned Patriot Tells All
by John Pacenti
Cox News Service
August 2, 2002
Randy Glass sits in a back booth of a downtown sushi restaurant. He's talking a million miles per hour on how he _ one of the country's most consummate con men _ found redemption in foiling terrorists for the federal government.
"I was a rogue, a scoundrel. I'm not that person anymore," Glass said. "When I realized the magnitude of what I got involved in, I realized I had to stand up, do the right thing and be a patriot."
It's a fantastic tale. One, given Glass' history, many would find hard to believe. But it's backed up by reams of documents and secret tapes detailing the Boca Raton former jeweler's work as a government informant.
It's backed up by prosecutors and government agents. It's backed up by the arrests last year of four men as a result of the government sting into the sale of Stinger missiles and other weapons to terrorists.
Court documents and undercover audio tapes indicate that Glass, pretending to be the "money man" for a network that could provide stolen weapons, rubbed elbows with those aiming to get weapons to Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Glass, 50, now says these suspected terrorists made comments to him during one incredible meeting at a New York City restaurant in 1999 that the World Trade Center would be turned to rubble.
But few wanted to listen to a former con man.
Now everyone is listening.
Glass is about to get what he's been aiming for since his release after seven months in prison in March: recognition. "Dateline" told his story Friday night on national television nearly a year after The Palm Beach Post detailed his undercover work for the government.
West Palm Beach attorney Val Rodriguez, who represented Diaa Mohsen, one of arms brokers whom Glass helped put in prison, called Glass' sudden celebrity "a big joke."
"It's like everybody's falling for it," Rodriguez said Friday while on vacation in the Austrian Alps. "The U.S. Attorney's Office is falling for it. The press is falling for it. That guy is like 'Mr. Fraud.'"
Rodriguez said that Glass was the one who entrapped Mohsen _ an Egyptian national who was Glass' gambling buddy _ and fellow accused arms broker Mohammed "Mike" Malik, a native of Pakistan. The sting also netted Wall Street high-flier Kevin Ingram and his pilot sidekick Walter Kapij for trying to launder money for illegal arms sales.
Mohsen, Ingram and Kapij all were sentenced to prison for terms ranging from 18 months to 33 months. Malik remains free in New Jersey.
"I guess Malik is the new Randy Glass," said Rodriguez, adding the main reason he pleaded out Mohsen was because he felt a fair trial was unattainable following the events of Sept. 11.
Malik's attorney did not return phone calls.
Glass' detractors have plenty of ammunition. Back in 1998, Glass was facing serious time for 13 felonies stemming from the bilking of jewelry wholesalers out of $6 million. After he offered the government his services, Glass ended up pleading guilty to two charges and, rather than the maximum 51-month sentence, he got seven months in jail.
The gem scam wasn't his first con by far. Glass is so convincing he once persuaded some desperate Pompano Beach home owners to take some "rare" postal stamps for their residence, according to police records.
"I've done many things that I'm sorry for. There is nothing I can do but not repeat that behavior again," Glass said. "But then I took a chance of doing the right thing when my normal instinct was to be self-centered."
Glass says public documents, sealed records as well as well as audio and videotapes verify everything he is saying about the 31-month arms investigation. He says the audio tapes show there was no way Mohsen and Malik were entrapped.
In one recorded phone conversation, Mohsen tells Glass he knows a guy "who is very connected to the Taliban" and whose money is provided by bin Laden.
Glass confirms the government is now reviewing the whole South Florida sting and there could very well be more arrests. U.S. Rep. Ben Gilman has called for an investigation. "The government knows about those involved in my case who were never charged, never deported, who actively took part in bringing terrorists into our country to meet with me and undercover agents," Glass said.
"They wanted to purchase sophisticated weapons systems up to and including nuclear material and radioactive isotopes to make dirty bombs to be used by terrorists to hurt Americans."
Government agents who worked with Glass on the sting call his actions "heroic."
"Obviously, it looks like he did what he did to get out of a jam but Randy went way beyond what he had to do," the agent said. "He put his life in danger. He was threatened at undercover meetings. They threatened to kill him and he kept going."
And the terrorist sting wasn't Glass' only case. He helped the government recover a 30-carat diamond stolen in armed robbery. He helped recover stolen Picassos and two Egyptian burial masks said to be 30 centuries old. He even _ with the aid of his young son _ helped police make a felony battery case against an ex-Marine in the beating death at Boca Raton teen party that got out of control in February 2000.
But it was the arms case that sent Glass all over the world where he put those same skills he used as a con artist to use.
"The individuals that Mr. Glass has dealt with are essentially terrorists. They are without question dangerous individuals," Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil told a judge on May 19, 2000, in sealed records that asserted bin Laden was a player in trying to get Stinger missiles and other high-tech weaponry.
The government had to beg U.S. District Judge Wilkie D. Ferguson to allow Glass to remain out of jail to continue his work as an undercover agent.
Repeatedly, the team found itself running into a lack of support. They could not get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. A FBI supervisor in Miami for that agency's terrorist task force refused to front money for the sting, forcing federal agents to to use money from U.S. Customs and even from Glass to help keep the sting going, Glass said.
One of the most startling developments during the investigation occurred on July 22, 1999, at the TriBeca Grill in New York where Glass, wearing a wire, met with a man referred to in court documents as Abbas, believed to be a Pakistani government agent brought in by Malik. Glass was informed that they wanted to buy a whole shipload of weapons and they said it was for bin Laden.
"At the meeting Abbas said Americans are the enemy and they will have no problem blowing up this entire restaurant because its full of Americans," Glass said. "As we leave the restaurant, Abbas turns and says, 'those towers (the World Trade Center) are coming down.'"
Despite that information, available to the government two years before the World Trade Center attack, the FBI's terrorism task force didn't appear to take the threat seriously, Glass said.
But the group of agents he worked with in South Florida continued to develop their leads.
"The agents that I worked with at the FBI, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Customs, America needs more agents like them," Glass said. "These agents were absolute patriots."
Glass wants to see stricter immigration controls and profiles of visitors from known terrorist nations. He adds that it's imperative that, regardless of political belief, that Americans need to stand behind their government and support the current Administration.
"I have been face to face, eyeball to eyeball with these people," he said. "And though nothing has happened since Sept. 11, we can not afford to be lulled into a false sense of security because these people won't stop until they destroy our very way of life."
John Pacenti writes for the Palm Beach Post. E-mail: jpacenti(at)pbpost.com
Copyright 2002 Cox Enterprises, Inc.
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