Lies, Spies and Double Agents: On the Trail of Peter Nygard in the Bahamas

Given Mr. Nygard’s alleged sway in the Bahamas, we had been informed we wanted to watch out.

We switched inns each few days so nobody may observe us. A Courtyard Marriott employee insisted that the lodge couldn’t deny I used to be staying there if somebody requested for me by title, so he disguised me as “LaKim LaBarker,” a pseudonym that appeared like poor tradecraft.

One supply would speak to me solely in a automotive; as he drove us by way of a wooded space, he mentioned, worryingly: “Don’t worry. I’m not going to kill you.” People recorded our conversations with out telling us. A person with a spoofed telephone quantity (which hid his precise location and quantity) known as my dad, in search of me. No one ever known as my dad in search of me.

Mr. Nygard actively tried to close down the article. He filed a racketeering lawsuit in opposition to Mr. Bacon, accusing him of making an attempt to plant a false story with The New York Times. One of his attorneys known as the allegations “paid-for lies.” Mr. Nygard’s spokesman falsely instructed that I had taken $55,000 funneled by way of Mr. Bacon’s basis. (The so-called proof: On a public 2016 tax return for the basis’s grants, simply printable from the web, anyone had scrawled “—BARKER $55K” subsequent to a grant for Media Matters.)

Weeks earlier than we first hoped to publish, we doubled down on our interviews, visiting our sources to corroborate their tales and crosschecking for inconsistencies. We discovered that Mr. Smith and his staff had unfold extra money round than anybody had beforehand informed us; in explicit, they’d paid two ladies who had helped discover alleged victims.

Reporting was sophisticated by the indisputable fact that Mr. Smith had just lately almost died in a paragliding accident in Italy, and we needed to interview him as he recovered in an Italian hospital. At occasions, he screamed in ache.

Then a reporter’s worst nightmare occurred: Two accusers informed us they’d been mendacity all alongside. They mentioned they’d by no means met Mr. Nygard. They claimed they’d been paid to lie — not by Mr. Smith, not by Mr. Bacon, however by a former Nygard worker, Richette Ross, one of the two ladies who had helped discover victims for Mr. Smith. He had paid her the equal of $86,000 a 12 months — for her safety and to assist with one other lawsuit in opposition to Mr. Nygard, he claimed.

Ms. Ross handed a lie-detector check denying she had paid anybody to lie, the polygraph examiner informed us. In December, her Florida lawyer despatched me a cease-and-desist letter, threatening to sue if I continued speaking about what we had been informed.

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