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Man Derides Claim of `Hit' on Him Sought by Pellicano

The inmate's lawyer says it was officials who risked his life by moving him to another prison.

May 24, 2006|Chuck Philips and Kim Christensen | Times Staff Writers

Proctor and three of those arrested were later charged with conspiracy and making bogus bills with intent to defraud. Court records indicate that one of the four was convicted, but don't reflect the disposition of Proctor's charges.

However, within about a year of that arrest, he and some of the same cast of characters popped onto the radar of local and federal authorities investigating drug trafficking involving Los Angeles-based members of the Hungarian Mafia, court records state.

Known as "Alex the German," Proctor was the Hungarian Mafia's chief supplier of cocaine, delivering a pound a week to the mobsters while using a Venice business as a front for the illicit operation, the government alleged. According to a search warrant affidavit, an informant told Los Angeles police that Proctor headed a burglary ring that traded stolen jewelry for cocaine.

The affidavit also alleged that he took great care to avoid detection, using an answering service and an alias to field calls from customers.

"Proctor and his associates (also) use sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment to determine whether they are being monitored by police," the affidavit states.

The government based its allegations, in part, on information furnished by Bela Marko, a reputed Hungarian Mafia enforcer who was then under arrest on a drug charge and told police that Proctor moved large quantities of narcotics for the organization.

Pitman, Proctor's lawyer, said his client told him the government informants' allegations in that case were false. Still, he pleaded no contest to a drug possession charge and was placed on six months' probation.

A year before that drug investigation, police linked Proctor to the Hungarian Mafia when he attended the funeral of another purported enforcer, Steven Szendro, whom Marko shot to death in what he claimed was self-defense. He was not charged, but met his own end in a later shootout.

An illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet, Marko and well-known Los Angeles Police Department Det. Russell Kuster shot each other to death in October 1990 in the lounge of the Hilltop Hungarian Restaurant in Hollywood. The shooting occurred when the off-duty Kuster confronted Marko for waving a handgun at other patrons, police said at the time.

Marko hit Kuster with four bullets from a 9-millimeter handgun equipped with a laser sight, The Times reported, while three of the detective's seven rounds found their mark.

Between his arrests in the Hungarian Mafia case and the threat against Busch, Proctor had at least two other drug convictions, court records show.

In 1987, he was convicted of possession of cocaine for sale and was sentenced to a year in jail. In 1990, he was convicted of the same charge and ordered to spend a year, at his own expense, in a halfway house.

A 112-count indictment naming Pellicano and six other defendants in February alleged that they used wiretaps and illegal background checks to gather "confidential, embarrassing or incriminating" information, typically to help attorneys and other clients gain an advantage in litigation.

Since then, authorities have said Pellicano should not be released on bail because he poses a danger to potential witnesses

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel A. Saunders has accused Pellicano of threatening a former employee, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and a Vanity Fair reporter. At one point, Pellicano was moved to an isolated cell after authorities uncovered what they said was a plot to spring him from prison by helicopter.

Saunders declined to comment this week.

Pellicano's lawyer, Steven Gruel, said the government has not charged his client in any of the alleged threats, including the purported plan to murder Proctor.

"Mr. Pellicano adamantly denies orchestrating any type of violence against Mr. Proctor," Gruel said Tuesday. "This is the latest in an endless list of false allegations directed at Mr. Pellicano [by prosecutors] intended to paint him in a bad light."

Proctor's lawyer also doesn't believe that Pellicano planned to kill his client.

"Alex has no reason to believe that Pellicano put a hit out on him," Pitman said.

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Times staff writer Greg Krikorian contributed to this report.

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