Top Official of ZZZZ Best Called White Supremacist

Times Staff Writer

A top official of youthful entrepreneur Barry Minkow’s ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company was a well-known white supremacist who once compared the young Jewish businessman to Adolf Hitler, law enforcement authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Police reports obtained by The Times also show that at least $200 in ZZZZ Best funds were funneled last year to the White American Political Assn., the predecessor of the White Aryan Resistance now headed by former Ku Klux Klan official Tom Metzger.

A variety of ZZZZ Best officials have identified Tom Padgett, one of Minkow’s top lieutenants in the trouble-plagued company, as a close friend of Metzger’s and a regular financial contributor to white supremacist causes, according to police reports.


Wore SS Ring

The officials--including Brian Morze, one of 12 former ZZZZ Best associates, including Minkow and Padgett, indicted on securities fraud charges in connection with ZZZZ Best’s financial dealings, and Maurice Rind, who allegedly helped take the company public--told investigators that Padgett wore a Nazi SS ring and had a picture of Hitler hanging over his desk.

Minkow, who himself donated thousands of dollars to the activist Jewish Defense League last year, told Morze that he knew about Padgett’s political connections, according to the police interviews.

“ ‘Tom’s a little crazy, but he’s a good businessman. Leave him alone,’ ” Minkow reportedly told Morze.

Law enforcement sources said Padgett, in an interview with Los Angeles detectives, admitted he was living with Tom Metzger’s daughter and went on to compare his longtime friend Minkow to Adolf Hitler.

“One of the things he stressed on was that Hitler had the ability to be articulate and definitive enough to encourage people to do what he wanted to do,” one source said.

“When he realized he was putting Minkow on the same level as Hitler, he immediately took a step back and said, not to say that Minkow was as great as Hitler, or that Minkow could have been as great a leader as Hitler.”

JDL Donations

The head of the Jewish Defense League, Irv Rubin, said Minkow donated more than $13,000 to the organization last year to pay for a half-hour weekly radio program.

Rubin said JDL officials have long known Padgett as a co-host of Metzger’s “Race and Reason” cable television program and a longtime activist in white supremacist causes.

“I was astounded. I was beyond belief. Shocked,” Rubin said of learning of Minkow’s relationship with Padgett. “I begged him and I begged him to sever the relationship. And he says, ‘I cannot break my relationship because I have a fiduciary obligation to my stockholders.’ ”

Minkow’s attorney, Anthony Brooklier, said that news of Padgett’s white supremacist ties “came as a complete surprise” to Minkow, despite Padgett’s recent public assertions that Minkow was aware of his political connections.

“It’s consistent with Padgett’s personality to try and involve Barry in his own problems,” Brooklier added. “It’s exactly what Padgett is saying in terms of the case: ‘Barry made me do it,’ or, ‘Barry knew about it.’ ”

Minkow, accused by federal authorities of directing an elaborate insurance restoration hoax to help gain millions for ZZZZ Best in public stock offerings, has claimed that Padgett and others were the real masterminds.

Padgett and his attorney declined to comment on his specific ties to white supremacist organizations, but Mike Canale, a longtime Aryan activist who left the movement and joined the JDL, said his contacts told him that Padgett had donated as much as $93,000 to the movement.

“I don’t know the exact figures, but it was a lot,” Canale said. “He was known as the rich kid in the movement.”

The only specific ZZZZ Best donation cited in LAPD reports is a $200 check issued on May 18, 1987, from Assured Property Management, a company affiliated with ZZZZ Best, to John Metzger, Tom Metzger’s son. The check was endorsed by Metzger and deposited into the account of the White American Political Assn.

However, LAPD Detective Mike Brambles said there were many other checks written on the account to cash, the ultimate destinations of which remain unknown.