Ted Snyder, a virtual jack-of-all-trades in the adult-film industry who was shot to death on a Northridge street this week, had been under investigation over his ties to alleged organized-crime figures, court records and sources said Thursday.
Snyder, 47, of Woodland Hills was a principal in several video firms during the last decade, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the case.
Snyder, whose roles during a 20-year career in the adult-film industry included distributor, producer, cameraman and film editor, was also believed to be a heavy cocaine user, said the source, who asked not to be identified. Los Angeles police said Snyder had a vial of cocaine in his hand when his body was found near a curb Tuesday night at the intersection of Blackhawk Street and Wilbur Avenue.
The combination of drugs and Snyder's alleged organized-crime ties may have led to his death, the source said. But the investigation is still in its early stages, and no clear motive for the slaying has surfaced, police said.
"Right now, it is wide open," said Lt. Ron Lewis, who is in charge of the investigation. "There are so many facets at this point to follow. We don't know if it was business, personal or dope-related."
Lewis declined to confirm reports of Snyder's ties to alleged organized-crime figures and would not say whether the victim was under investigation at the time of his death.
But court records stemming from a bankruptcy case indicate that federal authorities were looking into possible links between Snyder's company and reputed organized-crime figures.
Police said Snyder was vice president of Video Cassette Recordings Inc., also known as VCR Inc. The firm is based in a Chatsworth warehouse and has produced and distributed dozens of soft-core pornographic videos since 1980.
Robert D. Genova is president of VCR and was Snyder's partner in other video ventures based at the same warehouse in the 19700 block of Bahama Street, authorities said.
The law enforcement source identified Genova as an alleged associate of an organized-crime network believed headed by Martin Taccetta, who is purported to have links to East Coast crime figures involved in adult-film distribution.
Genova and Taccetta could not be located for comment Thursday, and a person who answered the phone at VCR Inc. declined to discuss the business or Snyder's slaying.
VCR Inc. filed for reorganization under U.S. bankruptcy laws on Aug. 11, 1988, according to court records. A year earlier, another Genova-Snyder company, Mark V Productions, also filed for bankruptcy.
According to court documents in the bankruptcy file, Snyder and Genova were under investigation for alleged links to crime figures by federal authorities at the time VCR Inc. filed for reorganization. Financial records from the company and its accounting firm were subpoenaed by investigators, the court records said.
"Several suppliers of VCR Inc. were apparently suspected by government agencies as dealing in major crime activities," according to the court documents.
FBI spokesman Fred Reagan declined to comment on the investigation. But the source familiar with the case said VCR Inc. is currently part of the focus of an ongoing organized-crime investigation.
VCR Inc. listed more than $600,000 in debts to creditors after filing for reorganization last year. Among the listed debts was $49,500 owed to Hustler magazine. But attorneys for Hustler charged in court documents that the magazine was owed more than $500,000 and that the operators of VCR Inc. fraudulently attempted to hide assets from creditors.
"It should be noted that Genova and Snyder are currently under criminal investigation," Hustler attorneys wrote Aug. 17, 1988, in a request to a federal judge.