Petraeus honored the couple with an award, given to them in a special ceremony at the Pentagon just before he departed the military for his post at the CIA, an aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter publicly.
Aaron Fodiman, who’s been publisher of Tampa Bay Magazine for 27 years, said people like Petraeus and Allen usually don’t know anyone when they arrive, and that people like Kelley act as ‘‘the welcome wagon.’’ But while he described the hostess as ‘‘outgoing and effervescent,’’ he said her parties ‘‘were like everybody else’s parties."
‘‘Nothing different or special,’’ who has attended several events at the Kelley home. ‘‘Standard procedure. Have a caterer. Feed people. Give them something to drink. And let them mix.’’
But behind the scenes, this veneer of upward mobility was showing signs of cracking.
Hundreds of pages of court files in numerous cases portray the occupants of 1005 Bayshore Boulevard as both litigious and financially strained.
The Kelleys’ investment in a Tampa office building went sour when a $28,000-a-month tenant balked at payment because of problems with the air conditioning system. The couple later defaulted on the mortgage, and the property went into foreclosure.
An attorney who represented the Kelleys in that case, Barry Cohen, ultimately became the target of a lawsuit over his legal fees. Chase Bank sued Scott Kelley over a $25,880.56 unpaid credit card bill.
Meanwhile, Khawam, Kelley’s twin, has had legal troubles of her own.
She sued Cohen’s firm, where she was an attorney, claiming sexual harassment by the chief financial officer.
In court responses, Cohen said Khawam ‘‘has a judicially documented recent history and continuing propensity for the commission of perjury.’’ He cited a court filing in the District of Columbia that described Khawam as having a ‘‘willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests at the expense of ... others.’’
Khawam, who earned $270,822 in 2010, according to a court filing, has filed for bankruptcy.
During a news conference Wednesday, Cohen said both sisters had been heard dropping Petraeus’ name often, though he never heard Allen’s name invoked. He said both subscribed to the idea that you should ‘‘join these clubs and have these parties and drop these names.’’
Referring to Jill Kelley, he said: ‘‘She does what she thinks is necessary to be perceived as being important.’’
Her apparent importance and connections were described to Victor, when the New York businessman was introduced to her.
‘‘We went down to the convention to spread our message about coal gasification and I met someone who seemed to be very well connected in Tampa’’ — and was described as a friend of Petraeus and someone who could deal with the president of South Korea.
In an interview, Victor continued: ‘‘It was Jill Kelley. She was a very vivacious women. She seemed eager to assist us in our project and she confirmed that she was very close to Gen. Petraeus ...’’
Victor said she talked about helping with a non-competitive bid. ‘‘And so that if the (South Korean) president liked it, as a favor to Gen. Petraeus, there would be one no-bid contract. Every developer likes a no-bid contract, or sole source. This certainly seemed worthwhile pursuing.’’
Victor said his company flew Kelley to New York, first class, for meetings, and then she flew to Hawaii, allegedly for meetings on the deal.
They discussed her compensation, Victor said. ‘‘I said, ‘what do you think a fair fee would be?'’’ And she emailed me back, 2 percent of the deal,’’ which he said could have amounted to tens of millions of dollars.
The company decided to work through others on the deal. ‘‘We decided that she simply was not a skilled negotiator in these large projects, she’s never been in these large projects and I sort of felt that I wasted my time,’’ Victor said.
In 2005, the Kelleys established Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation Inc., with themselves and Khawam as its sole directors, according to the Florida Department of State. Its mission statement says the organization, which was based out of the Kelley home, was created to ‘‘conduct research studies into efforts to discover ways to improve the quality of life of terminally-ill adult cancer patients."
In 2007, the last year for which it filed paperwork, the foundation reported revenues of $157,284 to the Internal Revenue Service, all from direct donations, according to its tax filing. The document lists expenses totaling precisely the same amount, including $43,317 for meals and entertainment, $38,610 for travel, $25,013 in legal fees, $8,067 for supplies and $5,082 in phone bills.Continued...