The actor, the hairstylist and the eye surgeon: Drugs and death in a Malibu beach house

Mark Sawusch's Malibu oceanfront home, left.
Mark Sawusch’s Malibu oceanfront home, left, where paramedics and sheriff’s deputies found the body of the 57-year-old eye surgeon in 2018.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In a rush of adrenaline, Anthony Flores dialed 911 from a Santa Monica hotel to report an emergency seven miles away.

“I believe that my friend has died in our house,” he told the dispatcher.

Paramedics and sheriff’s deputies raced to the Malibu beachfront cottage of Mark Sawusch, a 57-year-old eye surgeon. They found his body wedged between a sofa and a coffee table near the grand piano he’d been playing that afternoon.

The house is suspended 20 feet above a narrow strip of boulders and sand. Waves pounded into the tangle of weathered pilings and beams beneath it. In the distance, city lights shimmered along Santa Monica Bay.


Two massage therapists had discovered that Sawusch was not breathing. One of them had called Flores.

It didn’t take long for investigators to figure out that severe mental illness had recently upended Sawusch’s quiet life as an ophthalmologist with a private practice in Pacific Palisades.

His frightening and sometimes violent manic outbursts had destroyed his career and landed him in jail and psychiatric wards. He could no longer care for himself.

But it would take years for investigators to grasp the full horror of what had unfolded in his home before his death on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2018.

Sawusch could not have been more desperate for help. As caretakers maneuvered their way into his life, his wealth would not protect him; it would make him more vulnerable.

When investigators arrived on the scene about 9 p.m., they were not aware that Sawusch was an investment wizard with a net worth above $60 million.


They knew nothing of his acid trips with Flores.

They also did not realize that surveillance cameras, installed all over the house, had recorded everything. The jaw-dropping digital record would all but vanish within hours.

In a swirl of LSD, ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana, Sawusch had been flinging food and clothing around the house for days in fits of rage, talking to himself, rocking.

Mark Sawusch, far right, on the beach in Malibu with Anna Moore and Anthony Flores.

Flores, then 41, and his partner, Anna Moore, then 34, had been living in the house and spending Sawusch’s money for nearly a year, bank records show. That Friday, they’d packed their things and checked into an 11th-floor room with a panoramic Pacific view at the posh Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica.

On his mobile phone at the hotel, Flores monitored live video of Sawusch’s final hours, but didn’t call 911 until Sawusch was dead.

VIDEO | 00:41
Recording of Anthony Flores

Listen: Recording of Anthony Flores speaking with a 911 emergency dispatcher on May 27, 2018. Source: Los Angeles County Fire Department.


“I’m not safe,” Sawusch told emergency room staff at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. “I need help.”

It was Labor Day weekend in 2015. He was feeling suicidal. He would spend the next couple of nights at Las Encinas, a psychiatric hospital in Pasadena.

The eye surgeon had struggled for years with depression, but this marked an alarming turn, the first of at least eight hospitalizations for an extremely serious case of bipolar disorder.

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Sawusch, who grew up in Florida, had earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago in 1985 and, after a residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, moved to Los Angeles.

Twice divorced, he lived alone in the small two-bedroom house on Pacific Coast Highway just west of Topanga Canyon.

He had few friends and no kids. He felt isolated. Sawusch told a girlfriend that he aspired to be outgoing like her. His dream, he would later confide to Flores, was to fill his beach house with people and music.


“I can do that for you,” Flores would tell him.

Eye surgeon Mark Sawusch in September 2008
Mark Sawusch, shown in September 2008, was an ophthalmologist with a private practice in Pacific Palisades.
(Dr. James D. Boyce)

At his office off Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, Sawusch was reserved and businesslike. But as the years passed, he seemed to lose interest in his job, said Trey Caldwell, an optician who worked for him. Eye exams became tedious.

“I think he was just super bored with it — ‘Which is better, B or A? A or B?’” Caldwell said.

Sawusch recognized he was bipolar and went on lithium but was erratic about taking any of the many drugs he was prescribed. He had enormous trouble sleeping. He knew he was overspending too. He bought hundreds of pairs of shoes he would never wear.

When he failed to show up for work one day in April 2016, co-workers called emergency medical services and requested a welfare check.

At the house in Malibu, paramedics found him “altered” and “very confused” in a room scattered with marijuana, syringes and empty medication bottles, his medical records show. They took him back to UCLA’s Santa Monica emergency room, where he stayed overnight and returned two weeks later for a couple of more days of psychiatric care. Doctors found him delusional, confused, paranoid.


“Why does everyone hate me here?” he asked nurses.

His girlfriend told a UCLA psychiatrist that, during the six months they dated, she found Sawusch “loving, quiet, gentle and smart” until he started “babbling” and acting “spaced out.” He was drinking a bottle of wine a day, sometimes two. His explosiveness scared her. After he punched her car’s dashboard, she broke up with him.

Sawusch soon stopped showing up for work again.

This time, paramedics doing a wellness check found him on his living room floor, covered in blood and feces. They saw burns, scratches and deep cuts all over his body. He was surrounded by broken glass. Fresh grill marks, red and raw, scarred his left forearm.

At UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Westwood, one of the nurses logged “too many wounds to count.”

During his three weeks in the hospital, he told variations of this story: He was playing piano, stood up, felt woozy, fell to the floor, cut himself on the bench, knocked over a glass as he tried to get up, and was electrocuted by a cord attached to the piano.

Doctors concluded Sawusch had probably tried to kill himself. To them, lacerations on his fingers and arms looked self-inflicted. He denied it.

Whatever the cause, the consequences were devastating. Permanent damage to his hands meant he could never again perform surgery.


He also could no longer cope with simpler responsibilities. He fell behind on office rent. His employees’ payroll checks bounced.

At home, another manic episode took hold, and a caretaker called 911. Sheriff’s deputies found him shouting inside his bathroom. He flung the door open, banging it into one of them.

Sawusch was naked. “You aren’t the real police, f— you!” he hollered.

A deputy ordered him to calm down.

“I am God,” he told them. “My birthday is when the universe was created.”

With clenched fists, he “stepped towards me aggressively,” a deputy wrote. The deputy shot Sawusch with a Taser and handcuffed him. Sawusch kicked a firefighter who tried to examine him. At the emergency room, his limbs were strapped into restraints.

He spent the next two weeks back at Las Encinas, where a psychiatrist assessed him as “grossly psychotic.” After that, he turned to Milestones Ranch, a Malibu addiction treatment center. He was hospitalized in Las Vegas. A suicide attempt weeks later led to his admission at the Del Amo psychiatric hospital in Torrance.

Two weeks after his release, he met Flores and Moore at an ice cream parlor off Venice Beach. It was June 23, 2017.

Anthony David Flores keeps a thick mane of dark wavy hair draped over his shoulders and an ample beard and mustache. He smokes a lot of weed and enjoys mezcal. On social media, he calls himself “Peace Man.”


Raised on the outskirts of Fresno, he started a window-washing business when he was fresh out of Clovis High School in the 1990s. It was still thriving more than two decades later.

Flores got a cosmetology license too. He worked at a Melrose Avenue salon in L.A. and branded himself as a “global hairdresser” with a specialty in runway looks. He adopted Anton David as his artistic name.

“No one calls me Anthony except for my mom,” he said in a 2019 deposition. “She respects my creative evolution and says: ‘Oh, sorry, mi hijo — Anton.’”

Flores and Moore met in 2012 at a potluck in a Santa Monica yoga studio. They became lovers and partners in the window-cleaning service. Their lives were so intertwined they would sometimes swap cellphones and text people from both as “Anton&Anna.”

Anna Moore and Anthony Flores camping in the Sierra Nevada in 2015.
(Jem Bluestein)

Anna Rene Moore grew up just outside Berkeley, got a bachelor’s degree in theater and politics at New York University and studied acting in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Her early film career showed promise. She landed a bit part with a few lines of dialogue opposite Uma Thurman in “The Life Before Her Eyes,” a 2007 flop.

Bigger roles followed, but none in well-known movies. She and Flores starred together — sullen, glamorous, mugging — in a music video, rapper Diamond D’s “I Can’t Lose.”

Moore relished red carpet premieres, gushing to Flores from one at the El Capitan in Hollywood, “Oprah!!!! Reese Witherspoon!!!!”

She felt intense pressure to get ahead. “If I am not effortlessly beautiful and witty, who will want to work with me as an entertainer?” she once texted Flores.

In Fresno, Moore taught yoga at a downtown studio she ran with Flores. It was more a passion than a vocation. She rarely drank alcohol and kept strictly vegan.


Late one Friday afternoon in June 2017, the couple stopped at Kippy’s organic ice cream shop in Venice. Flores was pondering flavors at the counter when the man behind him asked: “Do you know anything about this alkaline water?”

Anna Moore and Anthony Flores at a cocktail party on June 22, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Anna Moore and Anthony Flores at a cocktail party for a cosmetics business in Los Angeles the night before they met Mark Sawusch in June 2017.
(Vivien Killilea / Getty Images)

It was Sawusch, and he was in good spirits. He joined the couple for ice cream, then invited them to his house in Malibu to watch the sunset. By nightfall, he had given Flores the keys to his Tesla.

Flores and Moore took off for Yosemite that weekend, texting Sawusch a photo of themselves and the Tesla in the national park. “What a gorgeous trip,” they wrote.

“Namaste, dear friend. Anton&Anna.”

They returned to L.A. days later and asked Sawusch when they could swing by.

“I simply do not care when you arrive to rescue me because you are my PERSONAL 911,” Sawusch replied. He told them that “all I want to do is simply sit in my massage chair all day and discover why I can’t fix my own envy or jealousy or religion or philosophy or anything else ever and that is the only way I can keep myself from committing suicide.”

Sawusch invited them to move into his house, rent-free. They offered to stabilize him.

“Our desire is to add ease and flow to your life and be of great service,” they texted. Sawusch told them they were “the BEST friends I have ever met in my entire life.”

Mark Sawusch plays the piano at his Malibu beach house, with Anna Moore behind him.

On July 4, 2017, Sawusch was back in trouble, arrested at the Santa Monica Pier on a battery charge for an assault on a passerby. He spent the night in jail, then was held for six days of psychiatric care in Torrance.

Flores and Moore brought him home. They’d known Sawusch for less than a month but already were routinely texting him: “We love you!”

After three weeks, Sawusch had had enough. He screamed, “Get out!” and called the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies escorted Flores and Moore into their bedroom to fetch their belongings.

Sawusch told a friend why he kicked them out. “OMG,” he texted her. “I just realized Anna and Anton are f— white collar tax fraud criminals who tried to steal my Tesla and home. OMG. I am sooo gullible.”

He was unsparing in angry all-caps texts to Flores. He called him and Moore “PATHETIC CON ARTISTS” and “VEGANS IDIOTS DEVILS MUTANTS.” He told them to “ROT IN HELL” and warned they would soon be “HEARING FROM THE IRS AND MY PIT BULL ATTORNEYS.”


“Mellow out my friend,” Flores texted.

On his own again, Sawusch faced relentless drama. He was arrested at Moonshadows, an oceanfront restaurant a quick walk from his house, on charges of public intoxication and failure to pay for a meal.

Moonshadows Malibu restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway was within walking distance of Mark Sawusch's home.
Moonshadows Malibu restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway was within walking distance of Mark Sawusch’s home.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

He was arrested again a couple of days later on a felony vandalism charge for throwing rocks at vehicles on Pacific Coast Highway.

Sawusch wound up in Twin Towers jail in downtown L.A. for seven weeks. At first, he was handcuffed and chained to a bench where he talked to himself, sang and cursed at jail guards.

In his cell, Sawusch paced and kicked the door. He flooded the floor with water and refused medication. He spent much of the time in a high-observation mental health unit.

Flores called Patsy Sawusch, 83, and told her that her son had disappeared. Flores offered to search for him if she would pay him. Patsy, who lives in Florida, agreed to send Flores $1,000.


Flores wrote Patsy a letter asking for $4,688 more, saying he and Moore had bought her son food, got his piano fixed, cleaned his house and visited him at the Torrance hospital. Patsy mailed the check to Flores.

But she told her son in an email that Flores was just pretending to be his friend and only helping because she was paying him. “Stop the money and he will be gone,” she wrote.

In a jail phone call, Flores suggested Sawusch grant him a power of attorney so he could withdraw enough money from his accounts to post bail.

Desperate to get out of jail, Sawusch signed it. With full access now to Sawusch’s bank accounts, Flores bailed him out.

Sawusch was so grateful that he invited Flores and Moore to move back into the beach house.

The day would begin with Thai yoga massage at dawn to get the blood circulating. Lomi Lomi, Swedish, sports massage, scalp scratching and deep tissue would follow.

By early 2018, Sawusch was getting up to six massages a day, typically two hours each, on a table in his bedroom. Talking was discouraged.


Flores told the half-dozen massage therapists he hired to envision a five-star spa and keep everything “tiptop.” Clean sheets and towels had to be neatly stowed in a hallway closet. A binder of protocols specified how many drops of oil to put in aromatherapy diffusers around the house.

“They wanted it to always smell like lavender,” massage therapist Dora Peterson recalled.

Even after 21 years in massage therapy, Peterson, then 54, found this gig unusual. “It was wild,” she said.

Marijuana smoke wafted through the house most days. Flores and Sawusch liked to smoke pot at the dining room table.

The deck of Mark Sawusch's Malibu beachfront home.
A photo showing the deck of Mark Sawusch’s Malibu beachfront home was submitted as evidence in court.
(Los Angeles County Superior Court)

Sundays were Zen Day. Flores and Moore would throw a moon party. Friends would bring wine and mezcal. Sawusch, who played bossa nova on the piano, would sometimes join them but often retreated to his room. On Thanksgiving, he sobbed uncontrollably.

Flores and Moore liked to enjoy the L.A. nightlife — Skybar on the Sunset Strip, the Vampire Lounge and Tasting Room. With the power of attorney in hand, they were able to draw on Sawusch’s money to pay for the evenings out and much more, according to bank records filed in court.

They threw an Oscars viewing party at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. They hired private chefs to cook all the food they bought at Erewhon, Pacific Coast Greens and Whole Foods, spending more than $70,000 at those three markets alone in 2017 and 2018, the records show.

More than 20 housekeepers, handymen and other staff came and went in a 1,200-square-foot home that already felt cramped to the three people living in it.

From the sidewalk on PCH, a front door led to a small patio with plants and a fountain. Through French doors on the left was an office where assistants wearing headsets worked at computers.

They were running not just the medical, legal and financial affairs of Sawusch but also Flores and Moore’s window-washing business in Fresno, the records show.


The power of attorney enabled Flores to open joint bank accounts with Sawusch. Flores began shifting hundreds of thousands of dollars to himself and Moore, a court-appointed investigator later discovered from bank records.

Peterson remembered Flores and Moore “unloading vans of boxes of dishes and glassware and all kinds of stuff — all new sheets and towels. They went on major shopping sprees.”

After six months, Flores and Moore wrote Sawusch a two-page request for $1 million to “avoid interruption in service” for the “healthy organic meals,” “ten hours per day of luxury massage,” home repairs and the rest of what they were doing.

Sawusch said OK. Once the money was wired, it was the most Flores had ever had in a personal bank account, he acknowledged later in his deposition.

Mark Sawusch, center, drinks a cocktail with Anthony Flores and Anna Moore in 2017.

Peterson started to worry about Sawusch. “Who gets six massages a day, seven days a week?” she asked. He was getting more frail, less steady on his feet.


“It seemed like to me they just kept him drugged,” Peterson said in an interview — a charge that prosecutors would later make in an indictment. “He was out of it. He couldn’t carry on a conversation.”

Once or twice a week, Flores and Moore would take Sawusch to a Westside clinic for infusions of ketamine to treat depression and back pain. Ketamine is an anesthetic used to sedate patients for surgery. To recreational drug users, it is known as Special K. It can cause hallucinations.

It has become common to treat depression and chronic pain with ketamine, but some experts believe the drug can aggravate bipolar disorder.

After each infusion, Sawusch would leave in a wheelchair. When he got home, he would be asleep or barely awake when therapists massaged him.

“He would just be kind of like a vegetable,” Peterson said.

After 15 infusions, the ketamine clinic suspended treatment. Flores told a doctor at the clinic it was sad to deny Sawusch a drug “that he so looks forward to.”

The doctor emailed back that Sawusch had already had “plenty of medicine to keep his depression at bay.” He added: “Let’s be sure what we are doing is beneficial.”


The ketamine treatment resumed, but the doctor warned Flores “that Mark’s frequency of infusions markedly exceeds the typical.” He also told Flores of bladder and kidney problems that can occur in chronic abusers.

At home, Sawusch took magic mushrooms, another hallucinogen prosecutors say Flores and Moore supplied. “He was doing a lot of research regarding microdosing to treat his depression,” Flores testified. “So he was doing it on a regular basis probably for about a month.”

Flores said he once joined in. “I think I may have, like, taken a small mushroom.”

Malibu’s morning haze was clearing when a man from Topanga Canyon in a purple robe showed up — the shaman for a Mother’s Day acid trip. It was two weeks before Sawusch died.

The entrance to Mark Sawusch's beachfront home in Malibu.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The shaman, Alan, walked downstairs to the beach with Flores, Moore and Sawusch. He supplied liquid LSD in a vial with a dropper for doses under the tongue, Flores testified. Sawusch thought it might relieve his depression, he said.

In depositions, both Flores and Moore acknowledged dropping acid around noon that day with Sawusch but took pains to say they could not confirm the substance they took was LSD.

“It was my intention to do acid with Mark,” but only because Sawusch insisted, Flores said. He “wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Soaking in the hot tub on the balcony at sunset on LSD, Sawusch seemed “very happy,” Moore testified.

Jessica McDermott, a massage therapist on duty that day, noticed “some guy in a purple outfit.” She asked Flores and Moore what was going on. They told her it was “a whole healing thing” with LSD for Sawusch, McDermott testified in a deposition.

McDermott did not respond to Times phone messages. The shaman could not be located.

The next time McDermott massaged Sawusch, “he was like a whole new Mark” — happy and conversational for the first time, she testified. “He opened up, was himself, and was very talkative, and it was awesome.”


Sawusch and Flores dropped acid again a week later and went to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, Flores said in his deposition, acknowledging that he put the LSD in Sawusch’s mouth.

“Mark asked me to drop the drops under his tongue because he wasn’t — he wanted to make sure that only four drops were done,” Flores testified. Moore went to the movie but skipped the LSD.

He was out of it. He couldn’t carry on a conversation.

— Massage therapist Dora Peterson

That night at the beach house, Moore was trying to sleep in the bedroom after midnight while Sawusch and Flores were tripping in the living room, according to texts she sent Flores from bed. They were keeping her up with loud voices and TV.

“As we know, when he does acid, he doesn’t sleep,” she texted Flores.

Moore was frightened. “I am shaking,” she said.

“We are going very deep,” Flores replied. Sawusch was “exorcising.”

The day after that acid trip, Flores changed the two-step authentication feature on Sawusch’s main investment portfolio, then made two $1-million transfers to a bank account that Flores and Sawusch jointly controlled under the power of attorney, prosecutors later alleged in an indictment.

Flores moved more than $300,000 from that joint account to his personal checking account, they said, and instructed a 25-year-old assistant to impersonate Sawusch in a call with the investment firm that held most of his fortune.


The next day, Flores transferred nearly $1.4 million from the joint account to his personal account, the prosecutors said.

As we know, when he does acid, he doesn’t sleep.

— Anna Moore text to Anthony Flores regarding Mark Sawusch

Sawusch’s condition plummeted as Memorial Day approached.

On Thursday, his 43rd and final ketamine infusion was cut short. He wet himself. He seemed manic. He was talking, laughing, moving his hips, pressing forcefully into his eyes and ears. Flores and Moore hadn’t told the clinic nurses about the week’s LSD trips, prosecutors say.

That night, Moore felt unsafe again in the guest room.

“I will put a chair behind the door,” Flores texted her.

The full details of Sawusch’s final decline remain a mystery, but texts suggest that Flores and Moore expected to be thrown out of the house. Flores and some assistants spent several days packing file boxes and hauling them away, McDermott recalled.

Before they checked into the Huntley that Friday before Memorial Day, Flores added a few cameras to the home surveillance system. There were now at least a half-dozen in the living room and kitchen, on the front and back porches, and outside the garage and front door, according to Moore.

Sawusch was disoriented again, refusing massages, rocking, talking to himself.

“It was upsetting to me,” McDermott said. She was called in just to be around “in case he hurts himself.” She and other massage therapists were alarmed that Flores and Moore were leaving.


“Something doesn’t feel right,” McDermott recalled thinking. “Why are they moving out when this is a point where they should be here with him every second right now?”

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On Saturday morning, Peterson found Sawusch “flipping out” on his bedroom floor, his full torso under the bed. “He’d been tripping,” she said.

Flores told house staff in a group text that Sawusch was “still in a Manic State.”

“It is UNCERTAIN how Mark will respond to our presence today,” he wrote. “Anna and I are at a nearby hotel monitoring the video cameras.”

He advised them, “Do not TALK to Mark EXCEPT massage therapist its okay to TRY inviting Mark into session.” He requested hourly updates and told them to email photos of every meal served to Sawusch.

The cook on duty told Flores that Sawusch was playing piano, pacing and talking to himself. He’d left his bedroom long enough for the cook to dart in and clean it up. “Good job!” Flores told him. “Watching this all happen is really interesting.”

“Mark just threw a cola zero out the door,” the cook texted Flores. “He was asking me for a hammer.”


Stay calm, Flores replied. “Let’s not give him a hammer. Stay in the garage until he forgets that you were there.”

Flores and Moore went shopping that day, spending $3,626 at Barney’s New York, $1,911 at Bloomingdale’s and $350 at an Apple store, the bank records show.

On Sunday morning, McDermott showed up at the house. Sawusch’s room was a mess, “clothes and shoes everywhere,” she testified.

He had a black eye. “It was deep, deep purple,” she said. “It was dark enough for me to immediately be, like, ‘Whoa. What happened?’”

Flores first told authorities that Sawusch had fallen out of bed and hit a shoe rack, then testified later that Sawusch must have whacked himself with binoculars.

Flores kept in close touch with McDermott in the hours before Sawusch died. Phone records show they called each other eight times.


For a while, Sawusch hung out on the balcony watching birds. “I see him and he is fine,” McDermott remembered Flores telling her.

Massage was no longer viable. “If I were to make eye contact with him, he would tell me, ‘Don’t look at me’ or ‘Don’t talk to me,’ so I tried to make sure that everything was safe but stayed away and made sure that he wasn’t hurting himself,” McDermott said.

Mark just threw a cola zero out the door. He was asking me for a hammer.

— A cook on duty at the Malibu beach house

“Will you please place a open water bottle next to Mark,” Flores texted McDermott around 5 p.m. “Got it,” she responded. A minute later, she was on camera offering him a Voss.

Sawusch paced and rocked some more. He guzzled kombucha and water so fast he spit it up and spilled it on his clothes, the couch and the living room floor.

“He would run to the couch, start drinking it as fast as he could, put it down, go get another one,” McDermott said. She feared Sawusch would accidentally hurt her. She called Flores.


“I don’t know what to do, but I feel if I get in his way and stop him, he might just push me over,” she recalled telling him. “And he is bigger than me. You are a guy. Can you please come?”

“No, he’s fine,” Flores responded, according to McDermott’s testimony. “Just let him do it. Once he’s done, clean up the bottles and the water. Make sure he doesn’t slip and fall.”

The situation “just freaked me out,” McDermott said. She kept peeking in the living room to check if Sawusch was OK. “Eventually, there was a point where he just laid down and went to sleep on the couch. So I thought, ‘OK, he is fine. I’m not going to wake him for an hour.’”

She wiped the floor. “I thought he had turned his head and looked at me, but I wasn’t sure,” she said. “His eyes were partially opened, but I literally, in my rear peripheral view, thought he had turned his head, so I thought he was fine.”

McDermott waited in the office until the next massage therapist, Russell Swope, arrived from Ojai for the night shift. Swope was one of Sawusch’s favorites.

“I knew that Russell knew the situation and would be protective of him,” McDermott said. She let Swope know what was going on, then walked to her truck on PCH to head home.


“Russell came running out to me, like, ‘Hey, hey, I think he is dead. Can you please come feel him?’ And I had to go in and pick up his hand and see that he was gone.”

The L.A. County coroner found it was an accidental death caused by ketamine and alcohol intoxication.

But a pathologist who did an autopsy found that the “therapeutic levels of ketamine” and small amount of alcohol “did not significantly contribute to the immediate cause of death.” Sawusch died as a result of two heart conditions, the pathologist concluded: dilated cardiomyopathy and a congenitally narrow coronary artery.

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Nearly all the video recorded at the house the weekend he died has disappeared. “We tried to figure out how to download the video, which was very difficult to do,” Flores testified.

The three hours of video that survived were all taken from one living room camera. The recording shows Sawusch dying.

The video has not been publicly released, but Adam Streisand, a Los Angeles lawyer for the Sawusch family, called it “the most horrific thing that I’ve ever had to watch in my career.”


When banks reopened Tuesday after the holiday weekend, Flores withdrew $300,000 from a joint account with Sawusch and tried to take out $500,000 more, prosecutors said.

The day after he and Moore hosted a memorial for Sawusch at the beach house, Flores transferred an additional $700,000 to a personal account, they said.

Sawusch’s mother, Patsy, her son’s sole heir, and sister Carole, who also lived in Florida, were suspicious of Flores and Moore. They tossed the couple out of the beach house.

Flores and Moore moved to an apartment off Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood and began scouting property to buy in Fresno.

Carole, the estate’s administrator, and Patsy had no idea how rich Sawusch was. They feared his professional collapse had left him bankrupt. Three months after he died, Patsy was stunned to receive a letter from his investment brokerage that revealed he had more than $60 million.

In November 2018, Patsy and Carole got a court order freezing Flores and Moore’s assets and appointing a receiver to track down any of Sawusch’s money the couple had taken.

Anna Moore in Hollywood in November 2018, when she was served with legal papers.
In November 2018, Anna Moore is served with legal papers in Hollywood, notifying her and Anthony Flores that a judge had frozen their bank accounts.

Hours later, Flores and Moore were darting around L.A. in separate cars trying to pull money from accounts that were not yet frozen.

“They are giving me trouble at this branch,” Moore texted Flores. “They said going bank to bank is a red flag.” She urged him to “keep a level head.” She added: “Speak slowly. Do not get agitated.”

Moore realized a bank alert was blocking them. “Abort,” she advised. “They will not allow bank hopping.”

They tried to think of people they could supply with cashier’s checks. Their lawyer? Flores’ parents?

“Maybe we can wire/loan money to your sister,” Flores texted. “Naw,” Moore replied.

A couple of months later, Flores and Moore filed creditor’s claims in probate court, saying Sawusch had promised them the Malibu house and a third of his estate — more than $10 million each. It was memorialized in a lost will, they said. Carole Sawusch rejected the claims.

Week by week, the receiver uncovered more evidence of how Flores and Moore had spent Sawusch’s money. The couple could no longer afford a lawyer, so they sat for depositions without one. The lines of questioning made clear they could be in deep trouble.


They argued in court that everything they did was at Sawusch’s request. They denied they were his caretakers and claimed he had bipolar episodes only when he drank too much. They described him as a genuine friend who “functioned well.”

Nonetheless, Flores and Moore agreed to a settlement: They would inherit nothing and consent to a judgment requiring them to pay the estate $1 million.

Theodore Lanes, the receiver, and lawyers for the Sawusch family believed they had ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing. They turned it over to the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Flores and Moore took off for Mexico, settling in Tulum, a beach town on the Yucatan Peninsula.

A view of the Punta Piedra beach in Tulum, Mexico.
A view of the Punta Piedra beach in Tulum, Mexico. Anthony Flores and Anna Moore stayed in the beach town after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Daniel Slim / AFP/Getty Images)

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted them in December on charges of wire and mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.


Prosecutors say the couple subdued Sawusch with ketamine and distracted him with massages and marijuana to keep him from discovering they’d taken $3 million and were trying to take millions more.

In January, the FBI arrested Flores in Fresno. Moore was nabbed a few days later in Houston when she arrived on a flight from Monterrey, Mexico. They pleaded not guilty.

Flores’ attorney, Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, said prosecutors were advancing a false narrative that Sawusch “was this kind of naive person who was seduced and duped” by Flores and Moore. He suggested prosecutors were overstating the mental incapacity of Sawusch, whom he described as “a very successful, financially savvy person who was in the middle of a middle-age crisis and enjoyed having my client and Anna at his home.”

“He liked this kind of bohemian lifestyle that they led, and wanted to be part of it,” Rodriguez said. Moore’s attorney, Charles Snyder, declined to comment.

Flores and Moore were both denied bail and locked up in separate units at the U.S. Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A. to await trial.

The days of “Anton&Anna” have come to an end. They broke up in Mexico.