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Tarzana Man Is Arrested by FBI in Murder-for-Hire Case

August 10, 1991|JIM HERRON ZAMORA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Tarzana man who owns an adult bookstore in Hawthorne was arrested on charges he tried to pay someone $15,000 to kill a man suspected of having an affair with his wife, the FBI said Friday.

Allen Eugene Morrison, 56, was taken into custody without incident late Wednesday at Hollywood Park Race Track, FBI spokeswoman Karen Gardner said.

Police also arrested Ted Gaswirth, 58, of Dade County, Fla. The two suspects are longtime friends who both run businesses distributing sexually explicit materials, agent William A. Gavin of the FBI's Miami bureau said.

Morrison, owner of the Wildcat Adult Book Store in Hawthorne, traveled to Florida in late June and met with Gaswirth to arrange the slaying, the FBI said in a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

Morrison believed that a family friend, Joseph Steingold of San Diego, was romantically involved with Morrison's wife of more than 30 years, Gavin said.

In Miami, Morrison gave Gaswirth $15,000 in cash to hire the killer, the FBI said. Morrison also provided Steingold's photograph, home and business addresses, and information about his vehicles and schedule, the FBI complaint said.

A few days later, Morrison met with the hired "hit man," who was actually an undercover FBI agent, Gavin said. Gaswirth also told the undercover agent that if the slaying went well he would be hired for other killings.

On Wednesday, FBI agents searched Morrison's bookstore at 11013 Hawthorne Blvd. for evidence but declined to say if anything was found.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to travel across state lines to commit murder. They face 15 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted. No bail has been set for either.

Morrison faces a 2 p.m. bail hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Robert M. Stone in Los Angeles, Gardner said. A similar hearing is scheduled Monday for Gaswirth in Miami.

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