Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`All We Talked about Was Fish' Hazouri: Seager's Request Never Discussed with Mayor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`All We Talked about Was Fish' Hazouri: Seager's Request Never Discussed with Mayor

Article excerpt

Mayor John Delaney is a former prosecutor with no blemishes on

his record.

Former Mayor Tommy Hazouri is a former state lawmaker with no

blemishes on his record, except maybe for that $96 garbage fee

taxpayers still hold against him.

So why do their names show up in federal wiretaps in the

extortion, bidrigging and conspiracy case against former Duval

County Assistant School Superintendent Joe Seager and Tad's

Restaurant owner Norman Abraham?

According to federal affidavits, Seager and Abraham wanted them

to help get Seager appointed interim superintendent about the

time Superintendent Larry Zenke was being pressured to resign.

Abraham, who agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy

to commit extortion, asked Hazouri, his cousin, to talk with

Delaney about Seager.

Abraham's request came in a Nov. 26, 1996, telephone

conversation with Hazouri. Abraham was at his restaurant with

Seager. It was one of thousands of calls intercepted by federal

authorities who had tapped two telephones at Tad's.

In the conversation, Abraham said if Seager got the

appointment, he would take care of Hazouri.

"The only thing that I'm saying is that if we put him [Seager]

in a position that is pretty high up, you could be taken care

of, too," Abraham told Hazouri.

"Oh, I know. Don't say that," Hazouri replied.

"No," Abraham said. "I'm just telling you. He's already told

me. He said, you know, tell Tommy, you know, as far as lobbying,

anything he wants, you know, it can happen. Because he would be

in that position, he can make it happen."

"Does he want it permanently or does he want. . ." Hazouri

asked.

"Well, I think what he's looking for. I don't think

permanently. . . All I'm saying is . . . if you could put it in

Delaney's ear that there's somebody in the system that could. . ."

"Tell him [Seager] that I'm fishing with him [Delaney] on the

10th," Hazouri said. "Is that too late for him?"

Hazouri and Delaney went fishing, but both say the subject

never came up.

"All we talked about that day was the size of the fish we were

getting," Delaney said.

Hazouri said the conversation made him uncomfortable because he

has always tried to do what's right and avoid even the

appearance of impropriety. He insists he said nothing to Delaney

or anyone else about Seager.

"I absolutely did not, and I think they [federal authorities]

know that," Hazouri said. "They questioned me about that. I said

I did not talk to anyone about that."

Delaney said it's clear from the questions the FBI asked him

that someone was trying to get Hazouri to ask him to do

something and they wanted to know whether Hazouri did.

"I had no memory of Tommy bringing that up or anyone bringing

that up," Delaney said. …

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