Hit Man Hired, Prosecutor Charges : Courts: Car lot owner enlisted Mexican Mafia to kill auto salesman at his Leucadia home in 1988, according to trial brief.

From Associated Press

A car lot owner charged with masterminding a scheme to kill one of his salesmen hired a hit man from Mexico to fatally shoot the salesman, a prosecutor charged.

The accused man, William Wayne Nix Jr., hired a hit man from the so-called Mexican Mafia before longtime salesman Salvatore Ruscitti was gunned down in the doorway of his Leucadia home Sept. 17, 1988, Assistant U.S. Atty. Larry Burns charged in a trial brief filed in court Wednesday.

Burns said using the hit man was one of a number of scenarios discussed by Nix and two conspirators before the shooting. Burns said Nix first tried to hire a Las Vegas hit man, then went to the Mexican Mafia and hired the man who did the shooting and remains at large.


Nix and two alleged co-conspirators, Steven Gates and Rocky T. Holton, are charged in Ruscitti’s death. All three pleaded not guilty in November.

The victim had filed a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against Nix’s mother and stepfather, the former owners of Kearny Mesa Ford in San Diego. Authorities believe the lawsuit was the motive for Ruscitti’s slaying.

That lawsuit accused Empire Motors Inc., the Ford dealership’s former corporate owner, of cheating salespeople out of commissions.

Nix, Gates and Holton are scheduled to go on trial next month in Vista Superior Court before Judge J. Morgan Lester. Pretrial motions are expected to start next week.

The trial would be the first in the county in which two juries would hear evidence simultaneously. One would then deliberate the fate of Nix, while the second would consider the charges against Gates and Holton.

All three defendants could be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted.