Self-Styled Drug Vigilante Gets 7 Years in Prison

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Times Staff Writer

A self-styled counterculture vigilante, who claimed that undercover agents set him up on drug charges because he had conned them out of $100,000 in a money-laundering scheme, was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge William Keller said he found Craig Glazer to be “deeply enmeshed in drug traffic,” rather than being the victim, as Glazer insisted. The sentencing followed Glazer’s March 1 conviction on four counts of conspiracy to sell cocaine and using a telephone to facilitate a crime.

Before delivering the sentence, Keller asked prosecutor Fred Friedman what prison term he recommended. When Friedman argued for at least five years, Keller responded, “I think you are short of the mark,” and gave Glazer the seven-year term.


“Narcotics is the greatest scourge in this country,” Keller said, “and toleration of conduct such as Glazer’s would be tantamount to a temptation to others to engage in it.”

Glazer had asked the judge for leniency, saying, “I am a good person, and I have good qualities to offer society. . . . I am not and never have been a narcotics dealer.”

In an interview before his trial, Glazer insisted that he was set up on charges that he conspired to purchase 10 kilograms of cocaine.

Glazer’s self-styled vigilante career began in the early 1970s, he said, when he and a friend targeted drug dealers they believed had stolen from their friends. They robbed the drug dealers of contraband and money, usually masquerading as law enforcement officers.

Glazer said he was trying to rid the world of drug dealers and had returned the money and stolen drugs to his friends. However, authorities who investigated Glazer insist that he engineered the thefts for his own profit.

Glazer and a friend, Donald Woodbeck, came to Hollywood to pitch their story to movie studios, but Woodbeck was killed in a drug-related slaying. Glazer contended that he blamed Woodbeck’s death on high-level South Bay drug dealers and sought revenge.


Legal Troubles

His current legal troubles began in the fall of 1983, when he met two men who introduced themselves as Vern and Dick, South Bay drug dealers. Actually, they were undercover narcotics officers.

Over the next several months, Glazer said, he concocted an investment scheme under which he laundered the drug dealers’ purported profits, keeping an estimated $100,000 for himself and friends who had played roles in the scheme.

In June, 1984, however, the arrangement was terminated, when the “drug dealers” discovered Glazer’s charade. But Glazer said he remained intent on “stinging” the men he still believed were drug dealers.

So when the undercover agents asked Glazer to purchase cocaine, Glazer agreed.

“I wanted them to trust me,” he said.

Turned Over Money

When he and two friends turned over $271,000 for the cocaine on Aug. 31, 1984, they were arrested by federal agents.

Prosecutor Friedman successfully argued to the federal jury that Glazer, rather than being an altruistic vigilante, had enthusiastically dealt with drug dealers.

Two of Glazer’s associates await sentencing on similar charges. Richard Hellman, a 48-year-old movie producer, pleaded guilty to one count of using a telephone in the commission of a crime. He is due to be sentenced April 29.


Ivan Urlich, a New Zealand yacht designer and broker, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to sell cocaine. He will be sentenced May 13.

Besides the prison term, Keller also sentenced Glazer to five years’ probation and suspended an additional 12-year prison term.

An investigation into the money-laundering scheme is continuing, Friedman said.