Deputy sheriffs have disclosed what they say was a 1983 plot by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt to pay a soldier of fortune $1 million to arrange the killings of Frank Sinatra and three publishers.
Sheriff's homicide Capt. Robert Grimm told a news conference Wednesday that the self-proclaimed "king of sleaze" asked Mitchell Wer-bell, a "purported retired general" who ran a Georgia paramilitary training camp, to arrange the killings at a meeting held at Flynt's Los Angeles home in November 1983."There were apparently four individuals whose murder was solicited for payment of $1 million," Grimm said. "The individual who had taken the contract was given a check for $1 million which was signed by Larry Flynt."
The intended victims were identified as Sinatra, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, and publisher Walter An-nenberg, a friend of President Reagan.
Soon after Werbell left the house, Grimm said, Flynt's business manager called the bank and stopped payment on the check.
Grimm said the offer was made "at a painful period in (Flynt's) life when he was using drugs," but he did not know why the publisher would want to have the four men killed.
He said the investigation was continuing.
Flynt, who was ordered in 1986 to pay $2 million to Guccione's common-law wife in a libel suit after he lampooned her in Hustler, told KNBC-TV, "I don't make any comment on such stuff."
"The guy is sick," Guccione said in New York. "His body is dead from the neck down because of the attempted assassination, but it sounds to me as if the guy is dead from the neck up as well. He's got to be sick."
Grimm said the alleged murder-for-hire plot came to light during the investigation of the 1983 slaying of New York theater producer Roy Radin.
Grimm said one of the reasons the Flynt contract was not revealed earlier was because the Radin investigation "appeared to present a significant threat to citizens, we concentrated on that case."
One of the three accused hit men in the Radin slaying, William Mentzer, a former bodyguard of Flynt's, was present at the meeting between Flynt and Werbell and discussed it with an informant, who also was present, in a recorded conversation, Grimm said. Mentzer is in custody on murder charges in the Radin slaying.