Parties seeded friendship with Petraeus

Nov. 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Florida woman at the center of a scandal involving top U.S. military leaders had developed friendships with them by hosting events at her home, reports say.

Jill Kelley and her attorney husband, Scott, were well-known for the lavish parties they threw for dignitaries at MacDill Air Force in Tampa, The New York Times reported

Among the generals and admirals who came to their bayside home were then-Gen. David Petraeus and Marine Corps. Gen. John Allen, who commands U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Both men were stationed at nearby MacDill, the seat of both Central Command and Special Operations Command, which have had leading roles in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Petraeus and his wife, Holly, once arrived at the Kelleys' home with an escort of 28 police officers on motorcycles. Guests at the pirate-themed party dined on lamb chops and crab cakes.

When foreign dignitaries visited the base, officials there often called on the Kelleys to host a dinner in the visitors' honor.

The Petraeuses and the Kelleys grew close. Jill, Scott and Jill's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, were even invited to the Petraeus home last year for Christmas dinner.

Petraeus and Allen both wrote letters to a judge vouching for Natalie in a child custody dispute.

Classmates of Jill Kelley and her sister from their days at Lower Moreland High School in Philadelphia said they weren't surprised to see "the twins," as they were known, in the middle of controversy.

Before they graduated in 1993, the sisters were known for their tight jeans and flirting, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Wednesday.

They were into "brand names, politicians, power and social circuits," said a former fellow student who spoke on condition of anonymity.

After graduation, he said, "They were always with high-powered attorneys, decked out in Versace, name-dropping."

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