DEAD MEN DON’T TALK: ‘Fast Eddie’, Murder Beneath The Ponzi Palms – By Daniel Hopsicker

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  • “…Brent Kovar and his mom, Joy Kovar, are the most successful Mother-son crime team since Ma Barker and her sons went on a kidnapping and bank robbery spree almost 100 years ago…his company owned a DC-9 busted in Mexico’s Yucatan carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine, which was a single day aviation record at that time. In Mexico. And— even though Kovar’s plane was making regular drug flights to South America and back— nobody back in St. Petersburg ever broke a sweat”


By Daniel Hopsicker

SkyWay’s Mother-Son Crime Ring Is Back

Brent Kovar and his mom, Joy Kovar, are the most successful Mother-son crime team since Ma Barker and her sons went on a kidnapping and bank robbery spree almost 100 years ago.

After a decade of laying low, Brent, former CEO of SkyWay Communications in St. Petersburg, and his 86-year-old mom, who on a global Voice of America- sponsored tour taught speed-reading to pygmies, are back in the news.

They’ve been accused of running a Ponzi scheme in Las Vegas  using every current investor hot-button all in one pitch: Quantum supercomputers begetting artificial intelligence (AI) enabling intelligent bit chain and cryptocurrency mining.

Brent and Mama Joy’s latest fraud kicked off in March 2018, but the SEC didn’t step in until more than three years later, giving Ms. Kovar and Brent, who the SEC identifies as “her recidivist son,” had all the time in the world to rustle up $12 million from 277 retail investors.

Newspapers reported that 300 investors had been relieved of $12 million. Then, yesterday, the receiver appointed by US District Court in Nevada upped the figures a bit. Now it’s 700 investors out $24 million.

The complaint states the defendants specifically targeted investors looking for “safe products for their retirements and their children’s educations,” and offering a money back guarantee on top of the phenomenal results they were promising to achieve using a purported ‘supercomputer.’

The SEC was shamed into action after discovering that 90% of the money Profit Connect generated was coming—not from profits generated by the company’s supercomputers—but only from investors.

It’s a lot to take in all at once.

A sucker for a good Kovar story

Like a dog returning to his vomit, Brent Kovar has slipped back into stock fraud and Ponzi schemes.

I learned about it from Jillian Nagella, a 36-year-old notary public in Chandler Arizona who’s also a single mom with two teenage sons.

Nagella was the victim of the Ponzi scheme masterminded by Brent Kovar, former CEO of SkyWay Communications, she said. She thought I’d be interested because I wrote about Kovar so much.

Yeah, maybe I do write about him too much, I thought.

But his company owned a DC-9 busted in Mexico’s Yucatan carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine, which was a single day aviation record at that time. In Mexico.

And— even though Kovar’s plane was making regular drug flights to South America and back— nobody back in St. Petersburg ever broke a sweat.

Kovar skated.

The Kovar family’s affinity for financial fraud was already well-known to me. Still, I felt an irresistible pull, and I don’t mind stating why:  Me, I’m interested in where you go to apply for one of these state-sponsored jobs flying narcotics on airplanes. The good ol’ USA is my native country, and I want to help. I figure it’s the least I can do.

Little league coaches don’t make the best advisors

Ultimately, it was Jillian’s’ sons’ little league coach who was to blame. “He sold me on it,” she said. “Said it’s fantastic, Jillian! It’s 100% FDIC insured.”

She said, “That was before he lost everything. Before he lost his house.”

“What’s funny about it,” she continued, “is that I deposited my money in the last week of June. Two weeks later the SEC shut them down. I was the last person to deposit money.”

The US District Court for Nevada granted the SEC an emergency order on July 14th, freezing Profit Connects and the Kovar’s assets.

“But nobody even told me there had been a problem with the company, and I didn’t find out my money was gone until over a month later, when I got a text message near the end of August  from the baseball coach, and he was balling his eyes out.”

“I couldn’t even understand what he was saying he was crying so hard. Telling me it was all a scam, and everything was gone. And it took about a week before I could process it enough to realize that the money I’d saved for ten years as a single parent was gone.”

And that’s usually where stories like this end, with some little person taking it in the shorts. But not this time. Jillian the notary public in Chandler Arizona was still on the phone.

Here’s what she said: “Then a little guy—a spokesman for the receiver—told me, we don’t want you reaching out to people about this because it could hinder the investigation.”

“And I immediately saw a red flag. A big red flag. And I said, this is my money, this my livelihood for me and my children. And you’re telling me I shouldn’t talk to anybody?”

A question hung in the air. Then she asked it. What did I think her chances were for getting her money back?

She said, “I lost $30,000. It was everything I had.”

I stuttered,  “You know, these guys have run this scam so many times now, maybe it’s time for something to happen.”

It was all I could offer.

Several days later, another woman called me, this time from  Colorado.

She said, “My Dad was found in a pool of blood.”

Perfectly suspicious timing

I was on the phone with the daughter of Eddie Kona, Profit Connects top executive. He’d been murdered in Vegas, she suspected, because of his association with Brent Kovar in a business that had just been seized by the SEC.

Amber Cole thinks her Dad was murdered in Las Vegas four months ago, she told me, probably on May 30, though the body wasn’t found until two days later.

Eddie Kona was in business with serial fraud slinger Brent Kovar, fronting for Kovar’s latest fraud, a Ponzi scheme called Profit Connect Wealth Services.

She thought I might be interested.

“Because I write about Kovar so much?” I asked.

She didn’t reply. She didn’t have to.

5.5 tons of cocaine? What 5.5 tons?

For those tuning in late:

Brent Kovar and his family had three unsuccessful businesses in Tampa-St Pete that went bankrupt, leaving hurt feelings all around. I became interested in them when a DC-9 they owned was busted in Mexico’s Yucatan carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine.

Also, Glenn Kovar, Brent’s Dad and SkyWay’s CEO, boasted many times of having worked for the CIA.

So, there’s that.

I asked Amber, ‘What made you think your Dad was murdered?”

“It was the shadiness exhibited by company executives at every turn,” she replied.  “When I got into Las Vegas to clean up my Dad’s affairs, they had already had his remains cremated, which totally wasn’t their call.”

“Then I learned that they were the ones who found his body!”

Six weeks after Eddie Kona was found in a pool of blood, the SEC seized Kona and Brent Kovar’s company and froze all the company’s bank account.

Many might ask at this time: Is there a second clue?

Brent Kovar may be the last person that saw Eddie Kona alive.


John Caminero was the Profit Connect executive who drove over to Eddie Kino’s apartment with company principals Brent Kovar and Eric Garrison and  found Eddie Kino’s body.

Eddie Kona and John Caminero had been friends and colleagues for 20 years, his daughter Amber told me.

“Brent called me and said, we should do a wellness check, which I thought was weird,” John began. “This was on a Sunday. Later we learned Eddie had texted someone in the office on Friday. Only two days, right?”

“So I went, with Brent and his girlfriend, and a couple other people from Profit Connect. Eddie’s car was there. There were lights on inside.”

“When we went inside, I was the one who found his body, he was on the bedroom  floor naked, all scrunched up between his bed and a dresser. I went into the bathroom, there were blood spatters from coughs. And they say he died from cardiac arrest? People don’t usually cough up blood during cardiac arrest.”

“When the coroner came, she said he had been hiccupping, and that caused him to go into cardiac arrest.”

Try not to stare directly into the black box

Surprisingly, John Camerino didn’t attempt to defend the company.

“Our company was brought to the attention of top executives of the Bank of America a year ago,” said Camerino. “They did nothing. They allowed all this money to come into this company.”

“Brent Kovar has a major presence in Las Vegas. He owns huge data centers here. Plus he’s bought all this land in Searchlight. Now he hear he had a major history as a bad actor, which he successfully hid until the shit hit the fan.”

“The SEC stepped in to take over the company, then turned it over to a receiver. But they’re not— and this is per the SEC—going to follow through with any investigation. Brent is not going to be charged with any crime, said Camerino.

“He’s being protected here. He’s not going to jail.”

I told him that investors in Kovar’s company in St Petersburg, SkyWay Communications, saw their stock “pump-and-dumped” to the tune of $40 million.

Oh yeah. They also owned a DC-9 busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine. Nobody went to jail for that either.

Camerino said, “Wow. That’s crazy.  He’s protected. I don’t know how he’s doing it. The SEC claims Profit Connect ran something like $15 million through it’s accounts. They’re claiming $15 million. But I saw the accounts.”

He paused, and chose his words carefully.

“I saw individual deposits for more than that being dumped in. And then the money would disappear. When I would go into the back office again, the deposits had been wiped out.”

Back to the Future

Back in SW Florida, in simpler times, Brent and his Mom had perpetrated the same scam— in exactly the same way—three times in a row.

Amazingly, they got away with it each time.

The pitch was always the same, with minor variations. Brent was a genius. He’d invented a black box. The box did good things. You could take Brent’s word for it. Actually, you had to.

SkyWay employees told me that when they demonstrated the system to Congressmen in Washington, Brent used a prerecorded videotape when they got to the point in the demonstration when the system was supposed to be communicating with the ground in real time.

The only part of the scam that changed was when they got to the good things the black box was doing doing. Then there were slight variations.

Right after the 9/11 attack the good things the black box was doing were going to help keep the homeland safe from any more terrorist attacks.

That is, if it were installed on every airline.

Fast Eddie Speaks

Eddie Kona’s name was missing from the SEC’s emergency injunction. He had died six weeks earlier, but he had also been the face of the company. It was Eddie who made media appearances. It was Eddie being  interviewed in Profit Connects marketing videos.

He was sometimes called ‘Fast Eddie’ in investor forums, where he said he only sells what he calls “our crown jewel products,” which may explain it.

“We have now been vetted and joined by Chase, Wells Fargo, and Navy Federal Credit Union,” stated Eddie on a marketing video.

I didn’t know what that meant. That the named banks had deigned to allow Profit Connect to open checking accounts?

Eddie said, “One of the biggest things I’ll be talking about—that is, along with the spectacular returns—is that your funds are in a FDIC-insured account.”

He immediately rolled the statement back.

“Our wealth-building products are not a purchase—we call it a purchase, just for the ease of talking about it. what it really is—by definition—is a deposit.”

“This is not a bank, this is not an account, it’s not an investment. What you are doing is purchasing time on our artificial intelligence supercomputer.”

Eddie was in a hurry to get to the fun part.

“A fixed return compounded monthly between 15-20 percent monthly. Plus we also have our famous 30-day money back guarantee!”

Okay, I’m a little interested. You had to like the guy. His enthusiasm was contagious.  Tell me more!

“What we do in the background is the same thing the banks do,” he explained. “Bank of America, by the way, has been very very good to us.

Brent & the Big Programming Boys 

We finally reach the heart of the pitch, and—guess what? It’ was all about Eddie selling Brent.

Eddie explained. “We have some people within our company that really know what they’re doing.  My co-founder Brent Kovar and his team of 11 programmers— Brent and his team really know what to do!”

“Brent and his team were the people who—when you look on the news and you see the hurricanes being predicted—it’s not just IBM’s Watson computer that does that.”

“When you see the weather app on your phone, and it says with Watson, well that’s just one of the computers we utilize. Brent and his team actually wrote those programs!

“They also wrote all the programs involved drones in US military projects. I could go on and on.”

Military drones? I could tell Eddie was looking for a close.

“It’s not just that they know how to do it. Its not just that we utilize the IBM supercomputer Watson…We also have our very own supercomputer called Orwell! And Orwell and Watson can talk to each other! To my knowledge, no other company has two AI’s working in tandem and communicating with each other,” Eddie Kona enthused.

Profit Connect told investors they had two supercomputers. They even named them. Tesla, And Orwell.

“They’re the big boys in the programming world. they come from Facebook google GoDaddy. We’re waiting for three of them to give us more time now. In fact they live right on the Google campus.”

“They’re big, big boys in the programming world and they know what to do. They’ve been developing Orwell, our own AI supercomputer, for many many years,” said Eddie.

“So they not only know how to mine very very efficiently, but they also know what files to mine. when they make that cryptocurrency income they immediately cash it in, they change it in for US dollars. And banks don’t like that. So they put files out there with less and less inside of them, just empty!”

“So now, all these mining machines are running, but they’re not getting anything out of them anymore. And that’s what has caused many of these companies to go out of business.”

I was wondering about that.

“Those are just a few of the things we do to come up with the returns we’re going to be talking about. We’re also into FOREX trading for US dollars, stock and currency trading, these are just some of the things we do in the background to make profits.”

“Once you purchase one of our wealth builder products, we actually will put the deposit into one of our banks—our FDIC insured accounts—and once we do that, we never touch it again.”

The SEC complaint said, “The defendants raised investor funds through Profit Connect while assuring investors that their money would be invested in securities trading and cryptocurrencies based on recommendations made by an “artificial intelligence supercomputer.”

“Artificial intelligence supercomputer” should serve as a sufficient red flag,” online tech publication Dealbreaker reported snidely.

“Alas, for at least 277 people, it was not.”

Back to the Present

Eddie’s friend John thinks there’s something weird going on.

“A couple months ago the two of us went in for full physicals,” John said.  “We had good insurance at the time, so we just went in, they did a full panel on everything imaginable,  and he came out healthy. And then a couple weeks later he’s dead!”

I had to agree. I’ve been writing about Brent Kovar for a decade. Nothing has changed.

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

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