John Stowe, who introduced Rep-John Jenrette (D-S.C.) to FBI agents posing as Arab businessmen seeking favors, delivered $50,000 from the supposed Arabs to Jenrette, Stowe's lawyer said yesterday.
Law enforcement sources have said Jenrette is one of eight members of Congress impliciated in the undercover FBI operation, code-named Abscam. The comments by Stowe's lawyer, Jack Nageley of Miami Beach, are the first public confirmation from other than federal law enforcement sources that Jenretta was involved.
Nageley said Stowe picked up the money on instructions from Jenrette and personally delivered it to him.
Jenrette's office said he would have no comment on Stowe's statement. In the past, Jenrette had denied receiving such a payment from either the Arabs or Stowe. He has said he received a $10,000 loan from Stowe, although he says he has no copy of a loan agreement or note to back up this claim. Nageley said his client made no loan to Jenrette.
Stowe's story -- and potential testimony should a trial take place -- make it appear that the FBI did not set out to snare Jenrette.
This is the account, from Stowe and his layer, of how Jenrette was snared in Abscam's net:
In 1976 Stowe, now 49, was living in Miami and engaged in a number of business ventures. One involved trying to buy a $10 million real estate development on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. He was put in touch with a man named Mel Weinberg, who he was told might be able to help with the financing. He and Weinberg talked several times but nothing ever came of it.
Weinberg was later convicted of fraud in a wide-ranging scheme involving financing plans. That conviction, in federal court in Pittsburgh in 1977, led to Weinberg's later involvement in Abscam. In order to get a lighter prison sentence, law enforcement sources have said, Weinberg agreed to cooperate with Abscam by brining agents into contact with potential criminals.
Stowe got in touch with Weinberg again last year for help in buying American Gear and Pinion, a munitions factory near Conway, S.C., that was on the verge of bankruptcy. In November Weinberg introduced the FBI agents to Stowe as Arabs willing to put up the $3 million Stowe needed to buy American Gear.
Somewhere along the line -- Stowe said he can't remember when -- he mentioned to Arabs that he was friendly with Jenrette. In early December, Stowe, Jenrette, Weinberg and the phony Arabs met several times in a home in Washington.