From the New York Times, 10/18/02: An unlicensed private detective has been charged with threatening a Los Angeles Times reporter working on a story about the actor Steven Seagal's allegation that he was extorted by the Mafia, investigators said yesterday.
The private detective, Alexander Proctor, 58, was arrested outside his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, the police said. He was being held without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center on charges of extortion, said Lt. Don Hooper of the Los Angeles Police Department's organized crime and vice squad. The F.B.I., which is also involved in the investigation, declined to identify Mr. Proctor's employer, but said more arrests were forthcoming.
The reporter, Anita Busch, told investigators in June that her car windshield had been smashed and a dead fish and a rose placed on the car's hood with a note that read, "Stop." The incident was said to have occurred soon after she began reporting about the arrest of Mr. Seagal's former partner, Julius R. Nasso, who has been charged with participating in an extortion scheme involving the Gambino crime family.
From Reuters, 10/27/02: ....[A] federal magistrate in Los Angeles denied bail for Alexander Proctor because of his prior drug and burglary convictions and prosecutors' claim that he is a flight risk, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders said.
Proctor, 58, was arrested outside his West Los Angeles home earlier that day by a team of Los Angeles police and FBI organized crime agents. He was charged with a single charge of interfering with commerce by threats of violence, for allegedly trying to stop the Times and Busch from printing the stories.
If convicted he could receive up to 20 years in jail.
Ned Zeman, a Vanity Fair contributing editor who wrote a feature about the plot, reported being threatened at gunpoint by two men as he drove to his home in Los Angeles. Zeman said that two men in a dark-colored car pulled alongside his car, pointed a gun at him and said, "Stop it" and, "Bang," according to a Vanity Fair spokeswoman. Police so far have not linked the cases. Saunders said he expected more developments in the next few days.
I've learned that Proctor is an electronics expert. "Unlicensed private investigator." Proctor knows a lot. He's a maven at eavesdropping. Proctor is an operative. He works for people like private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who journalist Jeffrey Wells says in 1993 used an electronics device to listen in to his cell phone calls while Wells was investigating the Michael Nathanson - Heidi Fleiss scandal at Columbia Pictures.
Proctor bugged a Jewelry store in Ventura County and figured out when the owner was going to show up with diamonds. Proctor used a bug to rob the guy in a non-violent way. Proctor knew from bugging the owner's phone that he was going to show up at a certain time with diamonds. Proctor then snatched the guy's diamonds.
Two sources have told me that Proctor has ties to tough guy and infamous private eye to the stars Anthony Pellicano. Did Pellicano order Proctor to bust Busch's windshield? I do not know.
Proctor ain't communicating much with his public defender. He banks that richer and more powerful people will come to his aid.
It looks like there were different people, not Proctor, and not Pellicano, who threatened Vanity Fair reporter Ned Zeman.
I think the people who aimed a gun at Zeman and pulled the trigger (no bullets were fired) were trying to intimidate investigative journalist John Connolly who's published two devastating articles about Steven Seagal in Spy magazine (August 1993) and Penthouse (1998).
According to New York defense attorney Barry Levin, the feds are investigating Steven Seagal for these threats to reporters.
LIKE ALEXANDER PROCTOR, the man jailed for allegedly threatening LA Times reporter Anita Busch, Pellicano is an electronic eavesdropping specialist:
From forensicaudio.com: "Anthony Pellicano is none other than the nation's foremost forensic expert on tape recordings. His expertise proved crucial in sparing automaker John Z. De Lorean from a new career manufacturing license plates. Pellicano also helped expose the infamous eighteen-minute gap on the Nixon Watergate tapes and the extra gunshots during the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. His expertise is all but irrefutable in a court of law.
"[T]he term forensic audio was coined by Pellicano, who pioneered work in this revolutionary field more than twenty years ago. Pellicano's laboratory in Los Angeles a dazzling array of computers, spectrum analyzers and other electronic gadgets is generally regarded as the finest in the country, rivaling those of top law enforcement and intelligence agencies."
Why Isn't Don Re Representing Alexander Proctor?
Why isn't famed Los Angeles defense attorney Don Re representing jailed crook Alexander Proctor, the unlicensed private eye and electronics surveillance maven? Proctor resides in jail accused of threatening journalist Anita Busch.
I hear that Re has been disqualified from representing Proctor because of a conflict of interest. Does this conflict of interest relate to Re's close ties with notorious private eye Anthony Pellicano, who's close to Proctor?
Proctor's public defender Victor Cannon doesn't return my phone calls. Don Re doesn't return my email and fax. Marty Singer doesn't return my fax. Anita Busch has blocked my email.
And who betrayed Anita Busch? For a few weeks in June, she's investigating the Julius Nasso - Steven Seagal story. Then out of the blue, on June 19, her windshield is broken and her life is threatened. It seems she asked the wrong questions of somebody close to Seagal who betrayed her.
Nasso's defense attorney Barry Levin, a wild and crazy guy, says the FBI is investigating Seagal over death threats issued to journalists investigating him, including Vanity Fair's Ned Zeman.
I hear legal bulldog Marty Singer no longer works for Steven Seagal. I guess Seagal has thrown up his hands and realized he's going to get a ton of bad publicity. Why pay Marty $400 an hour when he can't stop it?
Matt Lait and Scott Glover write in the 11/22/02 LA Times:
A man charged with threatening a Los Angeles Times reporter who was researching the relationship between Steven Seagal and an alleged Mafia associate told an informant for the FBI that Seagal was behind the threat, according to court documents.
Alexander Proctor, a 59-year-old ex-convict charged with threatening reporter Anita Busch, allegedly told the informant during secretly recorded conversations that he had been hired to carry out the threat by Anthony Pellicano, known as the private detective to the stars. [I reported most of this 11/13. I know the name of the informant, a man with ties to the Russian mob.]
According to the FBI, Proctor told the informant that Seagal had hired Pellicano to threaten the reporter. "He wanted to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her so it wouldn't reflect on Seagal," Proctor told the informant, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by an FBI agent assigned to the case.
On Thursday, more than a dozen FBI agents searched Pellicano's West Hollywood office. An FBI spokesman, Matt McLaughlin, said Pellicano had been arrested in connection with what appeared to be explosive materials discovered in his office during the search. He is expected to appear before a federal magistrate today, McLaughlin said. [I named Pellicano a suspect 11/13 and wrote that he had close ties to Proctor.]
One federal law enforcement source close to the case said that "at this time, other than Proctor's uncorroborated statements, there is no independent evidence that Seagal was involved in the threat made to the reporter." The source added that investigators were still assessing Proctor's credibility and possible motives.
Proctor, who was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles without bail, has pleaded not guilty in the case. His attorney, Victor Cannon, could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents, Proctor told the informant that he owed Pellicano $14,000 and agreed to intimidate Busch for $10,000. But after the job was done, Proctor said, "they" were so pleased with his work that Pellicano agreed to wipe out his remaining debt.
Proctor allegedly told the informant that he was supposed to "blow up" Busch's car as a warning so she would stop reporting on the story about Seagal. But he said it would have been too difficult to set her car ablaze, because she lived near an apartment complex. He said Busch also had a neighbor who stayed up late at night, and he was apparently afraid he would be seen.
In the end, Proctor allegedly told the informant that he bought the fish and rose and placed them on Busch's car, putting a bullet hole in the windshield and taping the cardboard sign to it.
Proctor's taped statements to the informant are detailed in a 21-page application for a search warrant [to search Proctor's residence].
According to the FBI, the agency's informant was facing criminal charges of his own, including mail fraud, at the time he agreed to cooperate with the investigation of Proctor.
The day after Busch's car was vandalized, the informant called the reporter, saying he knew who was responsible. He said Proctor at that time told him he had vandalized the car and was working for guys "back East" who were ruthless and wanted Busch to back off her story.
The informant then agreed to wear a concealed recording device while trying to coax out more details about the plot from Proctor.
During a July 3 meeting with the informant, Proctor reportedly said he had actually carried out the threats against Busch on behalf of Seagal, not ruthless men from back East.
According to the court documents, Proctor talked to Pellicano on several occasions. There is no indication in the documents that he ever met with Seagal.
According to prosecutors, Proctor is an ex-convict with burglary and narcotics-related convictions. He is charged with interfering with commerce by threats of violence. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
John Brodie writes: Proctor took credit for the fish and the rose, for as he said on one of the recordings, "They wanted...he [Pellicano] wanted to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her, so it wouldn't reflect on Seagal."
Within days of Zeman's [8/26/02] scare, CW, the same source who had contacted Anita Busch about her car being blown up and the man who had put the investigation of Pellicano in motion, found himself in a bind. A 59-year old engineer by training, CW lived in a Los Angeles suburb near El Monte. He had become mixed up with the Russian mob and was under indictment for conspiracy, mail fraud, uttering forged securities and interstate transportation of stolen property. Fearful that his Russian pals would kill him or his family, he became an informer for the FBI.
Fortuitously for CW, he had run into Busch's alleged attacker. Despite a five-foot-six 130-pound frame, Proctor is a tough customer. According to the FBI, Proctor discussed his regular cross-country drug runs - driving cocaine to Atlanta, then returning to L.A. with black-tar heroin concealed in his car. He asked CW to use his engineering background to manufacture ecstasy.
The FBI provided CW with a recording device, and on July 3 he taped Proctor admitting that he had set out to terrorize Busch for "Anthony," who was "a very big and famous investigator in Los Angeles." Per FBI documents, Proctor stated that Seagal had hired the investigator.
During a conversation on August 13, Proctor acknowledged that the "Anthony" who hired him "was the private investigator Anthony Pellicano." Furthermore, Proctor revealed he had a $14,000 debt to Pellicano that the P.I. had forgiven afte rProctor had vandalized Busch's car.
Despite his new job as an informant, CW was having a tough time making ends meet, so he contacted the party he figured would be willing to pay the most for his ill-gotten information. To CW, that person was Seagal's former business partner, Jules Nasso.
CW reached out to Barry Levin, a criminal-defense attorney based in Garden City, Long Island. Levin emerged as the face of the Nassos' defense team after Jules and his brother, Vincent Nasso, were arrested for allegedly extorting Seagal.
In late June, CW tried to sell Levin information about Seagal and Pellicano for $30,000. Knowing that paying for testimony was an expressway to being disbarred, Levin declined, but the two kept talking. In a conversation on August 29, which Levin recorded, the attorney finally pressed CW to tell him where the FBI investigation was headed.
"I know, as a matter of fact, that they feel like Seagal's behind it," CW says.
Levin asks, "Who feels like Seagal's behind it? The FBI?"
"Yeah," CW responds. "They now feel that's the whole case."
By his own admission, Levin is no choir boy. In fact, he was Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico's lawyer during his heyday as the reputated head of the Gambino crime family. However, Levin bristles at the suggestion that the Nassos were behind the attacks on the two scribes. "Wiseguys love the press," he notes. Needless to say, law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles took a dim view of Levin's sleuthing. Federal prosecutors in New York were not pleased with his tarnishing the credibility of Seagal. FBI agents in L.A. were uncomfortable with a Mob lawyer chasing leads in their cases.
From the LA Times: The Los Angeles County district attorney's office on Monday charged an ex-convict with making a "criminal threat" against a Los Angeles Times reporter who was researching the relationship between actor Steven Seagal and an alleged Mafia associate.
Alexander Proctor, 59, faces up to three years in prison if convicted on the charge, which stems from a threat against Times reporter Anita Busch. The charge filed against Proctor marks the latest development in that case, which began last summer and has taken authorities in several different directions, resulting in two criminal prosecutions so far.
In their complaint Monday, local prosecutors alleged that Proctor "did willfully and unlawfully threaten to commit a crime which would result in death and great bodily injury to Anita Busch, with the specific intent that the statement be taken as a threat. It is further alleged that the threatened crime, on its face and under the circumstances in which it was made, was so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific as to convey to Anita Busch a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution."
Proctor had pleaded not guilty in connection with the federal indictment alleging that he had threatened Busch. A date for his arraignment on the state case has not been scheduled. Proctor remains in federal custody on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.