Disappeared After Wife's Death : Leucadia Man Says He'll Fight Extradition

Times Staff Writer

Former Leucadia entrepreneur Charles Russ will fight extradition to California, which could keep him in Florida for months while San Diego authorities go through the painstaking process of requesting Russ' extradition from the Florida governor's office.

San Diego authorities have flown to Florida to assist in the extradition and to try to enlist the cooperation of Russ' purported girlfriend, who is in federal custody, suspected of harboring a fugitive.

Russ, 39, appeared before state Circuit Court Judge Dale Ross in Ft. Lauderdale Monday morning and had the extradition process explained to him, according to Assistant State Atty. Jeff Driscoll. Russ told the judge he would not go back to San Diego County voluntarily and requested a court-appointed attorney, Driscoll said.

Also on Monday, 20-year-old Alisa Noveshen was taken before U. S. Magistrate Laurana Snow, according to Paul Miller of the Miami FBI bureau. Noveshen was released on a $100,000 bond after her grandfather, Leon Hartman, signed a personal surety bond.

Eager for Her Help

Bruce Kessler, Noveshen's court-appointed attorney, said San Diego prosecutors appear eager to find out what his client knows, if anything, about Russ' suspected involvement in the 1987 death of his wife.

"I just talked to the D.A. from San Diego, and they are all over him," Kessler said. "They want to charge him with murder, from what I understand, and they would like Alisa to help them."

"Whether she'll be able to help them, I don't know," Kessler said, adding that he had only spoken briefly with Noveshen and does not know the extent of her relationship with Russ. Kessler said there is a possibility that Noveshen will strike a deal with the San Diego County district attorney's office in exchange for leniency in her federal case.

Noveshen will be arraigned in U. S. District Court in Miami Sept. 15 and could be sentenced to one year in prison and/or fined $1,000 if convicted of harboring a fugitive.

Russ is charged with felony forgery and grand theft, for allegedly bilking his mother-in-law, Ginger Allen of Encinitas, out of her life's savings of $83,000. He disappeared seven months after his wife's death, on the day he was to appear for arraignment on the theft charges. He was captured Thursday on a beach in Hollywood, Fla.

Though Russ is still in Florida, his bail on the theft charges was raised from $25,000 to $500,000 Monday in San Diego County Superior Court, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. John Hewicker.

4 Television Segments

The television show "America's Most Wanted" has aired four segments depicting Russ as the likely killer of his wife, Pamela, but Russ has not formally been charged with murder. That decision lies with San Diego County Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller and Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Pettine, San Diego Police Homicide Sgt. Hank Olais said. Pettine is in Florida, working with authorities there on Russ' extradition.

Russ will appear in court again today and be given another opportunity to waive formal extradition. If he again refuses, the San Diego County district attorney's office will begin extradition proceedings, which could take up to four months.

Hewicker said he will prepare a requisition for extradition, which will be sent to Gov. George Deukmejian's office in Sacramento. Deukmejian's legal office will then forward the packet to the Florida governor, along with a formal request for extradition.

"Extradition, unfortunately, is a slow, painstaking legal proceeding," Hewicker said. "It's really rather archaic."

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