The attorney for Hustler publisher Larry Flynt said Thursday that a $1-million check that Flynt gave a soldier of fortune was a joke and that a story that it was payment for killing Frank Sinatra and three publishers was concocted later.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators say Flynt allegedly wrote the check on Nov. 14, 1983, to Mitchell Livingston WerBell III for the slaying of Sinatra, Playboy publisher Hugh M. Hefner, Penthouse publisher Robert Guccione and former TV Guide publisher and U.S. ambassador Walter Annenberg.
“The allegations are totally unfounded,” said Flynt’s attorney, Alan Isaacman. “Back in November, 1983, Larry Flynt had a dinner party and gave out, as a joke, million-dollar checks to about half a dozen people.”
Strange Actions Reported
Bizarre behavior by Flynt was at its height when the check-writing incident allegedly occurred, Isaacman said.
“I think he was just a little crazy,” Guccione said. “It was a very irrational act because neither Hefner nor I compete with his magazine. . . . And if you factor in Annenberg and Sinatra, it becomes even more irrational.
“When you’re a celebrity and controversial, you wind up on one of those crazy lists with Reagan, Sinatra and the Pope,” Hefner said in a statement.
A publicist for Sinatra, Susan Reynolds, said the entertainer had no comment.
A secretary at Annenberg’s Radnor, Pa., office said, “The only one who can speak on this is the ambassador, and he just isn’t available right now.” A member of Annenberg’s house staff who answered the telephone at his Rancho Mirage estate also said he was not available. WerBell, head of a Georgia private security center called Sionics Inc., was among those who received a check at the party, Isaacman said, “and there wasn’t any talk of killing anyone. That was someone else’s idea.”
WerBell had described himself as a retired lieutenant general in the Royal Free Afghan Army. A soldier of fortune, former international arms dealer and counterterrorism school operator, WerBell had a security consultant business and Flynt was a client.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block said Wednesday that he was taking the matter seriously.
“I’ve been led to believe that Larry Flynt has a propensity to try to harm people he sees as his enemies, whether (over) business arrangements or whatever,” Block said.
No charges have been filed.
“We never heard anything about this check being paid to kill anybody until (Wednesday) afternoon,” Isaacman said.
None Tried to Cash Checks
He said none of the dinner guests tried to cash their checks, including WerBell. He said it was found by WerBell’s sons after his death in December, 1983, and they tried without success to cash it in February, 1984.
Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Grimm said Wednesday there was no evidence that the alleged plot went further. WerBell died of a heart attack at age 65, Grimm said.
In the fall of 1983 Flynt announced he was running for President; falsely claimed he had important tapes relating to the John DeLorean cocaine conspiracy trial; and threatened to jump out of an airplane without a parachute “to save the world.”
He also made a court appearance wearing a flak jacket, combat helmet, a Purple Heart medal and diapers made from an American flag.
Said He Was Addicted
Flynt, paralyzed from the waist down from bullet wounds he received in an assassination attempt 10 years ago, has said he was addicted, along with his late wife, Althea, to a number of drugs he took for pain control.
Grimm said information about the alleged plot turned up recently in the investigation of the 1983 murder-for-hire slaying of New York theater producer Roy Radin, who authorities said was embroiled in a soured financial deal for the movie “The Cotton Club.”
A former bodyguard for Flynt, William Mentzer, is one of four defendants charged in the Radin killing.