Ex-San Diego Car Dealer Arrested After Murder-for-Hire Indictment : Homicide: He is accused of recruiting two Mexican hit men to kill a one-time friend and salesman who had sued the company.


A former executive of a San Diego car dealership was arrested Thursday after a federal grand jury charged that he hired two hit men from Mexico to kill a onetime friend and salesman who sued the dealership.

William Wayne (Will) Nix Jr., who more than six years ago was the general manager of what was then Center City Ford, was arrested without incident by the FBI and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department detectives at his home in Upland, U.S. Atty. William Braniff said Thursday in San Diego.

Most recently, Nix, 37, owned the Will Nix Ford dealership in Pomona. He sold it late last year.


Nix was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego last Friday on charges of murder for hire and conspiring to hire for murder. The indictment was unsealed Thursday with Nix’s arrest. He was charged with federal crimes because the two hit men were recruited from Mexico and had crossed the international border to commit murder, Assistant U.S. Atty. Larry Burns said.

The victim, Sal Ruscitti, was fatally shot four times in the chest and head Sept. 17, 1988, by two men who came to the front door of his Leucadia home.

Ruscitti was one of the lead plaintiffs in a 1986 class-action lawsuit representing more than 300 people who had sold cars for Center City Ford and, later, Kearny Mesa Ford after the San Diego dealership changed ownership and name. The lawsuit, which is still pending in San Diego, alleged that Ruscitti and the others had been been cheated on their commission checks because the dealership’s owners had systematically altered factory invoices and other figures, bilking salesmen out of an average of $125 commission on each car they sold.

At one point, lawyers for the salesmen contended, the dealership owed $2.9 million in back commissions, interest and penalties.

Attorneys representing the defendants in the lawsuit declined comment Thursday.

Ruscitti had worked with Nix for years at three Southern California dealerships and at times they were close friends, the victim’s wife, Barbara Ruscitti, said Thursday.

Nix is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in downtown San Diego today. Authorities said they will ask that he be held without bail at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Under federal sentencing rules involving murder for hire, Nix faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted.