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Embezzling May Have Sparked Slaying

Police say a paralegal's thefts from his law firm may have driven lawyer to murder-suicide.

March 29, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

A criminal defense lawyer who shot and killed a longtime friend, a paralegal, and took his own life left a note saying he planned to kill his friend because he was embezzling, Redondo Beach police said Friday.

Gerald V. Scotti, 54, who police say shot Barry J. Feldman, 45, left the suicide note in his Mercedes-Benz before meeting with Feldman on Wednesday in the beachside offices of fellow attorney Carl "Anthony" Capozzola.

Feldman had embezzled $50,000 to $100,000 from Scotti's law firm, authorities believe.

"He went there with the intention to either seriously harm or kill Mr. Feldman, no doubt about it," said Sgt. Peter Grimm.

Authorities also found in Scotti's jacket pocket a 16-page letter, which police said they will give to his daughter.

Scotti, who practiced law in Beverly Hills, was a noted criminal defense lawyer and former Drug Enforcement Administration officer.

Among his accomplishments, Scotti was credited with helping to acquit millionaire and car designer John DeLorean of drug charges and defending reputed Hollywood madam Jody "Babydol" Gibson.

Feldman, who worked out of Scotti's office, was described as a close friend of the attorney, who assisted Scotti and Capozzola on cases.

At the scene of the shooting, investigators recovered a .38-caliber revolver, which police said Scotti fired, and a 9-millimeter handgun inside Scotti's briefcase.

The second weapon was not fired, police said.

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