Advertisement

Retired Club Owner Arrested in 1981 Laurel Canyon Killings

Share
TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former nightclub owner Eddie Nash, long considered by law enforcement agencies as “the one who got away,” was arrested Friday on charges of running a racketeering enterprise for the last 25 years and taking part in the notorious 1981 bludgeon murders of four people in a Laurel Canyon drug den.

The 71-year-old Nash was taken into custody at his Tarzana townhouse, where he has been living quietly in retirement, according to his attorney.

Nash, whose real name is Adel Nasrallah, was secretly indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on 16 criminal counts ranging from racketeering to wire fraud to money laundering.

Advertisement

One of the racketeering activities cited in the indictment was the July 1, 1981, murders of Ronald Launius, William Deverell, Barbara Richardson and Joy Audrey Miller on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, down the block from the home of then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Nash and his bodyguard were acquitted of the murders in a 1991 state court trial that exposed Hollywood’s seamy underside. Prosecutors said the slayings were carried out in retaliation for a theft of drugs from Nash’s home.

Nash’s lawyer, Bradley Brunon, said Friday that the federal indictment is nothing more than a rehash of allegations that have been thoroughly litigated.

“This is a very tragic situation,” he said. “Mr. Nash is in poor health [from a chronic respiratory disease]. I have no doubt that this process will ultimately kill him.”

Brunon said he will seek to have Nash released on bond when he appears before a federal magistrate Monday. He said his client has known about the investigation for some time and made no attempt to run.

“We intend to vigorously defend him against these charges,” said Brunon, who represented Nash in the earlier murder trial. “We hope we can do it in a manner that preserves some of his life for him,”

The indictment accuses Nash of bribing a juror in his 1990 trial in the Laurel Canyon murders, which ended in a mistrial when the panel deadlocked 11 to 1 for conviction.

He was also accused of trying to bribe witnesses in a civil case filed against him by his lawyers over nonpayment of legal fees.

His arrest culminated a four-year investigation by the FBI, the IRS, the California attorney general’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department’s organized crime and vice division.

U.S. Atty. Alejandro N. Mayorkas said the joint task force built a case that warrants “the most aggressive prosecution in federal court.”

From at least 1975 to 1992, the indictment charged, Nash and his associates trafficked in large amounts of heroin, cocaine and marijuana out of various Hollywood nightclubs he owned, including the Seven Seas, the Starwood, the Odyssey, Ali Baba’s and the Kit Kat Club.

In the course of carrying out their criminal enterprise, the government said, they engaged in murder, violence, intimidation, bribery and money laundering.

Five of Nash’s associates, including two now dead, were named as unindicted co-conspirators:

* Hovsep Mikaelian, also known as Joe McLean, 49, of North Hollywood, accused of supervising the storage, distribution and sale of illicit drugs for Nash. Mikaelian is serving a 14-year federal prison term on a 1997 conviction for narcotics trafficking, wire fraud and tax evasion.

* Mikaelian’s brother, Hrant, 45, also of North Hollywood, accused in the indictment of drug trafficking, wire fraud and money laundering. He pleaded guilty last year in an unrelated international money laundering case and is to be sentenced later this year.

* Harry Diramarian, 58, of Pasadena, an accountant who worked for Nash and the Mikaelians. He was alleged to have been involved in the drug ring’s money laundering and bribery activities. Diramarian is awaiting sentencing in an unrelated $600,000 tax evasion scheme.

* Gregory DeWitt Diles, Nash’s 300-pound bodyguard, who was described in the indictment as a participant in the Laurel Canyon murders. He died in 1995.

* John Curtis Holmes, a pornographic film star, accused in the indictment of trafficking drugs and taking part in the killings. Holmes was tried in the slayings in 1982 and was acquitted. He died in 1988 of AIDS complications.

Although Nash was acquitted of the Laurel Canyon murders, police raided his home three times after the killings. During one search, they found $1 million worth of cocaine. He served four years in state prison for narcotics possession.

Nash’s most recent brush with the law was in 1995, when federal agents arrested him at his home in pajamas on suspicion of possessing methamphetamines. A lab test the next day showed the substance was only a mothball.

Advertisement