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Father of Robbery Suspect Must Stand Trial in Loan-Sharking Case

Times Staff Writers

The father of a Tarzana teen-ager charged with robbing an Encino savings and loan was ordered Friday to stand trial himself on three counts of loan sharking, one count of attempted extortion and one count of possessing cocaine.

Allan Eugene Morrison, 50, owner of Wildcat Enterprises, a pornographic bookstore in Lennox, was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Oct. 11 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Morrison’s son, Michael, 17, was arrested May 30 on suspicion of robbing a bank and stealing three cars at gunpoint.

Municipal Judge Edward L. Davenport, presiding over the senior Morrison’s two-day preliminary hearing in downtown Los Angeles, listened as the prosecutor played a May 31 tape recording what prosecutors said was Morrison threatening to kill Tarzana businessman Gary D. Brown.

In the conversation, the voice also asked, “Do you have a Valley paper in front of you? Okay, you look on the front page today and you look at the bottom of the page . . . and it says two 16-year-old juveniles arrested for bank robbery . . . . Well, go get a paper for a quarter, ‘cause one of those kids is my kid . . . .”

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Son in Juvenile Hall

Michael Morrison, accused of committing the robberies with Mark Berman, also 17, is being held in Juvenile Hall pending a trial. Berman has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the California Youth Authority, which can keep him in custody until he is 25.

Brown, owner of a video equipment company, testified Thursday that Morrison made the threats because Brown refused to pay Morrison $1,500 on two loans totaling $3,500 on which Brown said he had already paid $7,300.

In the conversation, which was taped by police, a voice identified by prosecutors as Morrison’s tells Brown: “You needed me and I came through for you. I want my $1,500 and I’m gonna kill you, you (obscenity).” Prosecutors said the extortion charge is based on this tape recording.

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Brown testified that he took the loans from Morrison in 1982 and 1984 to finance a firm that sold motion picture projectors and another that made video equipment.

‘That’s Interest Only’

Brown’s daughter, Alexandra Baskett, a bookkeeper for her father, testified that she made payments on the loans a year ago when “it had dawned on my brain to figure out how much money I paid him.” She said she brought the matter to Morrison’s attention and he replied, “Sweetheart, that’s interest only.” Baskett said she called the police after the conversation, which resulted in the later conversation between Morrison and her father being recorded by police.

Allan Morrison’s attorney, Roger Jon Diamond argued that the senior Morrison made the threats against Brown “at a time of pressure because his son had been arrested for bank robbery. . . . It would be a miscarriage of justice to use Mr. Morrison’s loss of his temper” to convict him of extortion, Diamond said.

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In Friday’s testimony, Jeff Kiesel and Mark Morze, co-owners of Galleria Fitness Center at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, testified that they each borrowed $5,000 from Morrison on March 25. They were told to repay the loan at $200 each per week indefinitely until they could come up with a balloon payment of $5,000 each, Kiesel said.

9 Payments Made

Kiesel testified that he and Morze made nine payments totaling $3,600 before police contacted them in early June. Police learned of the loans during a search of Morrison’s Lennox bookstore in connection with the extortion case, Vezzani has said.

The three loan-sharking charges stem from loans to Kiesel, Morze and Brown, prosecutors said.

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The cocaine charge stems from the discovery in a safe during the bookstore search of 0.9 grams of cocaine in a vial wrapped in tinfoil, Vezzani said.


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