News: Congressman Gary Ackerman Made Out on Defense Stock

The Read of the Day is the Daily News account of how Queens congressman Gary Ackerman made a nice meeting between Israeli officials and a defense contractor - and then sold the contractor's stock for a tidy profit.

Newsmen Benjamin Lesser and Greg Smith report that Ackerman first bought stock in Xenonics Inc. back in 2002 with no-money down, using $14,000 he'd borrowed from the company's top shareholder. Then, according to the News, after having brought Xenonics together with the Israelis, Ackerman sold the stock for $100,000 in 2005 and 2006.

A company official told the News that Ackerman "was nice enough to arrange the meeting," but that Israel never bought its product, some kind of high-powered flashlight gizmo called NightHunter.

Ackerman told the News that he "bought and sold his interest in Xenonics stock at its proper and fair-market value" and properly disclosed it on his financial filings. He insisted that he "never profited from any transaction between Xenonics and the government of Israel."

The generous businessman who loaned Ackerman the dough is Selig Zises, a moneyman who doled out $5,200 to Ackerman in campaign gifts in 2008. "What is wrong with somebody trying to help somebody with a government?" Zises told the News. "He has an interest in Israel." Indeed.


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