One of the owners of a Santa Ana topless bar was shot and killed Thursday night by two men who broke into his condominium, tied up his girlfriend, and made off with jewelry, furs, a Chevrolet Camaro and a Mercedes Benz.
About 11:30 p.m. Thursday, James Lee Casino, 48, who also used the name James Lee Stockwell, was led at gunpoint through his Buena Park home and forced to point out keys and valuables before he was shot once in the head with a small-caliber handgun, Buena Park police spokesman Terry Branum said.
Casino was controller of the Mustang, a topless bar in Santa Ana that local police contended has been used for "high-priced prostitution."
Before Casino was shot, the intruders used a bandanna and a belt to tie Casino's girlfriend, Shelly Faciones, 22, by the hands and feet, Branum said. She was able to free herself about 20 minutes after the shooting and called police from a neighbor's house.
Faciones was examined at Martin Luther Hospital in Anaheim; she was shaken but not hurt, Branum said.
The motive for the slaying was unclear late Friday as police officers from Santa Ana, Buena Park, Anaheim and Los Angeles met in Buena Park to discuss the case. The FBI also was notified of the slaying, spokesman Fred Reagan said.
Said Branum: "So far, it's just a robbery, but anything's a possibility at this point."
At about 1:30 a.m. Friday, the California Highway Patrol found Casino's Camaro abandoned on the 91 Freeway near Knott Avenue. But his 1984 Mercedes 550 SL was still missing. The intruders ignored Casino's Rolls-Royce, which was still in the garage.
Casino has had a checkered career. According to attorney Alban P. Silva of Irvine, who said he has represented him in business matters, Casino started a number of topless bars along Sunset Strip in Los Angeles as a young man but lost them at age 21 when he went to federal prison for tax evasion. After prison, Silva said, Casino became involved in real estate ventures, a gym and the Mustang Club.
Casino ran afoul of the law again in 1981 when the Los Angeles district attorney's office sued him and a Pacific Palisades attorney for grand theft, claiming they had bilked investors out of $400,000 in a scheme to build hot-dog stands that were never constructed. On Jan. 29, 1985, Casino pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case and was ordered to pay restitution by Jan. 30, 1987, or face up to five years in prison. According to Silva, Casino had paid "partial restitution" and was planning to pay the full amount as due.