PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Long before accused political dirty trickster Roger Stone became a key player in the election hacking investigation involving Russia, the longtime aide and lobbyist for President Donald Trump was involved in another major political scandal: Watergate.
Stone, who has an image of President Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, was a member of the former president's notorious CREEP committee, where he was schooled in what he has called the "political dark arts." Using the pseudonym Jason Ranier, Stone oversaw a private investigator who was paid to spy on Democratic candidates during the 1972 election.
"I did a lot of things in 1972 that were not illegal, but were bare-knuckle politics," Stone told Local 10 News in 2012.
As a so-called GOP hit-man, Stone worked for other presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but was axed from Bob Dole's presidential campaign after the National Enquirer caught him in a swingers' sex scandal.
For years, Stone was a lobbying partner with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and served as a lobbyist and advisor to Trump for decades after the pair were introduced by notorious attorney Roy Cohn, who served as a right-hand man to red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy.
Stone lived part-time in Miami Beach for a long time, but first gained local notoriety due to his relationship with one of South Florida's most notorious criminals: convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.
Stone served as Rothstein's political director before the now-imprisoned ex-attorney's billion-dollar Ponzi scheme crumbled. Stone was sued for $400,000 in a clawback action in Rothstein's bankruptcy case, which he settled for a nominal amount, and was never accused of any involvement in Rothstein's crimes.
Stone moved from Miami Beach to Fort Lauderdale after striking up a friendship with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whom he helped elect, as well as Israel's campaign strategist, Ron Gunzburger, whom Israel hired after his election as BSO general counsel.
Prior to Israel's 2012 election, a Stone assistant named Andrew Miller gave a mysterious $120,000 contribution to an Israel political committee. After the election, Israel, a Democrat, hired three of Stone's associates – including assistant Dianne Thorne, co-author Mike Colapietro, and Miller's girlfriend, Jennifer Hobbs – on the public payroll at the sheriff’s office after his 2012 election. Thorne left BSO after questions about her truthfulness regarding her educational background were reported and Hobbs has also left her BSO post.
"Whether or not someone is an associate of Roger Stone, I wouldn't necessarily know," Israel said in 2013.
While Stone carefully projects a sophisticated persona, Local 10 News captured another side of him when investigative reporter Bob Norman questioned him in 2014 about a $1.5 million federal tax lien filed that had been filed against him.
Stone lashed out at Norman and his photographer, pushing the camera and flashing his middle finger as he drove away.