Alexander Proctor, a career criminal allegedly hired by Anthony Pellicano to threaten a reporter, dismisses a government claim that the Hollywood private eye conspired with Chicago mobsters to "hit" him in prison.
It is federal prosecutors -- not Pellicano -- who have put Proctor's life in jeopardy, his lawyer says.
"When prisoners see a media report about the government suddenly moving a fellow inmate, they automatically assume he is an informant," said attorney William S. Pitman. "But Alex is the most resolute nonsnitch I've ever met. It's a matter of pride with him. Snitching is against his code of ethics."
Proctor, 62, was arrested four years ago for allegedly placing a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a sign that said "Stop" on the windshield of a car owned by Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch.
When an FBI informant surfaced later with a recording of Proctor boasting that he was working for Pellicano at the time, federal authorities raided the investigator's Sunset Boulevard office. That November 2002 search triggered the ongoing racketeering and wiretapping probe that has much of Hollywood in its grip.
Prosecutors unveiled the purported murder plot by Pellicano against Proctor last week in court papers. Proctor, now serving a 10-year sentence for drug trafficking, had by then been moved from a federal prison in Illinois to another in Georgia for his safety.
Although his alleged threat against Busch made Proctor a key figure in the unfolding scandal, little has come to light publicly about his background -- and his relationship with Pellicano.
Court records detail a criminal record that stretches back 30 years and includes previous drug convictions. Proctor said through his lawyer that his acquaintance with Pellicano spanned much of that time -- nearly 20 years -- and that they were introduced by a mutual friend.
In the weeks before the FBI's raid -- but after the Busch threat -- Proctor was frequently in touch with Pellicano, according to a former employee of the private investigator. The ex-employee said the two spoke often, usually by phone.
"They had a lot of conversations," the former employee said.
Proctor was arrested in October 2002 after unwittingly implicating himself in the Busch plot in a recorded conversation with an FBI informant, according to court records. A federal indictment based on the threat was later dismissed, but state charges are pending.
Shortly after his arrest, a federal grand jury also indicted Proctor on charges of possessing heroin and methamphetamine for sale, as well as conspiring to import cocaine from Mexico and to manufacture and distribute the drug Ecstasy.
"I'm telling you, without question, I could sell a million of 'em," Proctor allegedly told an unnamed "cooperating witness" in a recorded discussion of Ecstasy pills.
Proctor ultimately pleaded guilty to carrying two kilograms of heroin from Los Angeles to Atlanta in a secret compartment in his 1988 Acura Legend. The remaining charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement that resulted in his 10-year sentence.
His imprisonment is the latest episode in a criminal history that spans three decades and includes at least two other drug convictions and allegations of counterfeiting U.S. currency, using sophisticated electronics to evade authorities, and supplying large quantities of cocaine to the Hungarian Mafia in Los Angeles.
Former Secret Service Agent Gerald Petievich remembers his first meeting with Proctor, which occurred while he was working undercover in the 1970s. He remembers him as wiry and well spoken, with a slight German accent.
"A counterfeiter introduced me to Alex Proctor as a big-time cat burglar," Petievich recalled. "And I remember Proctor telling me ... that he had a device that would open garage doors so he could go in when people were not at home. He would brag about that."
A native of Germany, Proctor was first caught running afoul of the law in Los Angeles in 1976, court records show, when he was convicted of burglarizing a car and sentenced to a year in jail, with six months suspended.
In March 1981, his exploits made the news when he was among seven people arrested in connection with a $2-million string of robberies of Southern California jewelry salesmen.
Los Angeles police collected a variety of evidence, including a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, complete with drum magazine and violin case. They also seized a motor home, which they described as a rolling counterfeiting shop with a printing press, dryer, engraving plates and paper for printing $20, $50 and $100 bills.
The suspects had $200,000 in bogus bills and $14,500 in real currency, as well as "sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment," according to a Los Angeles Times report.
At the time, however, then-Police Chief Daryl F. Gates said the counterfeiting operation was only a sideline to the gang's primary criminal enterprise: robbing jewelry salesmen of their sample cases over a two-year period.