Friday, March 28, 2003
Attorney Kills Paralegal, Self, in Dispute Over Money—Police
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A criminal defense attorney killed a paralegal, then himself, in a dispute over money, a police investigator said yesterday.
Attorney Gerald Scotti shot and killed the paralegal, Barry Feldman, with a .38 handgun inside a third-floor law office suite, Redondo Beach Police Department Sgt. Peter Grimm told the MetNews.
The bodies were discovered shortly before 6 p.m. at the office of defense attorney Carl A. “Tony” Capozzola when officers responded to a 911 call of gunshots fired, Grimm said. Capozzola, who was interviewed by detectives, witnessed the shooting but was not wounded, detectives explained.
Capozzola did not return a MetNews phone call. Another attorney who worked in the suite, Mark Haushalter, described the shooting to a reporter for the Daily Breeze of Torrance.
“I heard about six shots, then a loud thump, as if something big had hit the floor,” he said. “I grabbed the other attorney in the room with me and ducked under the conference table. When I saw someone running down the hallway, I made a break for it.”
Haushalter’s partner, Ryan Okabe, said he also heard the shots.
“I thought it was someone fooling around with a cap gun until I smelled the gun powder,” Okabe told the newspaper.
“This place wasn’t like most law offices,” the 27-year-old added. “It was a very lighthearted place. I can’t imagine anyone in this office being angry or disgruntled enough to do something like this.”
A call to Scotti’s Beverly Hills office was taken by an answering service and not returned.
Scotti was a graduate of the University of LaVerne College of Law and had been an attorney since 1985.
Attorneys who knew him described him as likeable. They said he attended law school while working as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and became “persona non grata” at the agency after testifying as a subpoenaed defense witness in the trial of automaker John DeLorean.
His “adverse witness” testimony about some of the actions of his colleagues “corroborated our theory that DeLorean was set up by the government,” defense attorney Howard Weitzman said.
Among Scotti’s clients was Francisco (Pancho Villa) Martinez, sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years last month on federal racketeering charges. Martinez, prosecutors said, ran the Columbia Li’l Cycos gang from a prison cell, controlling drug trafficking in MacArthur Park.
Other clients included convicted celebrity madam Jody “Babydol’’ Gibson; Sandy Murphy, convicted three years ago of helping kill her live-in boyfriend, wealthy Las Vegas casino owner Ted Binion; and Kambiz Maleki, a construction executive acquitted after four trials of trying to bribe an inspector for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company