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Slaying Case Takes a New Twist With Security Firm Owner's Arrest : Crime: A. Michael Pascal is charged with arranging the 1984 killing of a prostitute in Van Nuys. He'll be arraigned Monday.

November 17, 1991|MICHAEL CONNELLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The arrest last week of A. Michael Pascal, owner of a Beverly Hills security firm, is the latest twist in the bizarre case of the death of June Mincher, a prostitute who was ambushed on a Van Nuys street more than seven years ago.

Pascal, who had been hired in 1984 by a family to shield them from harassment by Mincher, was charged Wednesday with setting up her slaying. Two of his former employees are already charged with murder for being the alleged driver and triggerman in the killing.

Pascal's arraignment on a charge of murder for financial gain was delayed Friday because he was hospitalized with chest pains. He was being held without bail in the jail ward of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and is expected to enter a plea in the case Monday.

The alleged involvement of Pascal and his former employees, William Mentzer and Robert Lowe, in the Mincher killing came to light during the investigation of the so-called "Cotton Club" case--the unrelated murder of would-be movie producer Roy Radin in 1983. Mentzer and Lowe were convicted in July of killing Radin. Pascal was a prosecution witness.

Though Pascal was never accused of a crime until now, investigative records depict him as a mysterious and volatile man whose role in the Mincher case drew the attention of detectives almost from the start.

According to court records, former employees and acquaintances told investigators that Pascal, a former Massachusetts policeman, had an international business with contracts in Holland, Germany and Italy. At least one informant said Pascal presented himself as a former CIA agent.

A former secretary with the firm told investigators Pascal was a violent man who threatened to "teach her a lesson" once after she cooperated with police. She said he kept a black cabinet in his office where he kept weapons that he passed out to his operatives when he gave them assignments.

While testifying during a preliminary hearing in the Cotton Club case, Pascal provided one of the more bizarre moments by announcing he was being followed by the KGB and making references to having seen "sex tapes" involving government officials.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Sally Lipscomb said investigators now are attempting to trace Pascal's background to determine if any of those claims are true. She said his arrest last week did not come as a result of a recent break in the case.

"It is an accumulation of the evidence," she said. "It is not one thing. It is everything we have gathered over time.

"There are a lot of little steps you have to take before you take the big step."

Mincher was shot to death May 3, 1984, as she walked along Sepulveda Boulevard with an acquaintance. The acquaintance, Christian Pierce, 24, also was shot but survived. The gunman jumped into a black car driven by another man and it sped away.

Investigators learned Mincher, 29, went by the name Raven and had billed herself in local sex-oriented newspapers as a "Sexy Black & Indian Goddess" with a 56-inch bust. Prostitution had provided the 245-pound woman with a lucrative lifestyle. Friends told police she carried as much as $12,000 cash beneath her wig and at various times drove a Mercedes-Benz or a lavender Rolls-Royce.

Police also learned that she had been involved in a long-running dispute with the family of Gregory Alan Cavalli of Beverly Hills. Cavalli, who was 24 at the time, had answered one of Mincher's ads in 1983 and began calling her frequently. After the telephone relationship was months old, he went to her West Hollywood apartment and was repulsed when he saw she was overweight and did not match the description provided in her ads.

According to court records, Mincher became angered by the rejection and was suspected of beginning a campaign of harassment against Cavalli, his father, Richard Cavalli, and even his grandmother, Mary Bowles, a partner in the Beverly Hills real estate investment firm of Bowles and Associates. Mincher was suspected of firebombing Greg Cavalli's car and setting fire to his father's military-surplus store in Santa Monica.

The Cavalli family responded by hiring private security guards, including Mentzer and Lowe, who were provided by Pascal's firm, which at the time had its office on Ventura Boulevard, court records say.

Police searched Pascal's firm in 1984 and began gathering information about his employees, whom Los Angeles Police Department records at the time referred to as "thugs." But police were unable to locate Mentzer or Lowe or identify them as suspects in the case. No murder weapon was recovered.

Meanwhile, witnesses to the Mincher slaying had identified Gregory Cavalli--who claimed he was in Arizona at the time of the killing--as the getaway driver. Even though they did not know who was the actual hit man, prosecutors charged Cavalli with murder.

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