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His father once ran the L.A. mob. How Tony Brooklier walks the thin line between the law and his underworld roots

His father once ran the L.A. mob. How Tony Brooklier walks the thin line between the law and his underworld roots
Anthony Brooklier with his client Heidi Fleiss in 1997, taken a decade after this article originally ran. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Anthony Brooklier, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, has died at the age of 70, L.A. County coroner’s officials confirmed. They did not immediately release a cause of death.  This profile written 27 years ago takes a look at his back story and colorful career up until that point:

As a child, he would dream the same dream over and over, until the dreadful image would tease the backs of his eyelids even by day: He and his father are walking along a road in the early evening darkness when, out of nowhere, a pair of headlights pierces the horizon. The two points of light grow monstrously large; the dull whine of an engine becomes a roar. The boy jumps in front of the father and, with the pounding cylinders only inches away, grabs the car's bumper and heaves the entire machine to the side of the road. The father sighs quietly. The boy stands trembling. And, in the distance, two more headlights appear.

"It was all in the wrists. Timing," explains Anthony P. Brooklier, who at 43 is now one of Los Angeles' most successful criminal lawyers and supposedly immune from childhood bogymen. But the image he has come to call simply "the dream" keeps nudging back at odd hours, perhaps because it has become a leitmotif for much of his life.

He is the Godfather's son. He is the boy from suburban Anaheim who grew up the son of Dominic Brooklier, onetime powerful boss of La Cosa Nostra in Los Angeles. He is the high school football star who played catch in the back yard with Aladena (Jimmy the Weasel) Fratianno, a Mafia hit man who has confessed to at least five contract murders. Brooklier is the young lawyer who left his job as a deputy state attorney general to defend his father against serious criminal charges, only--unlike the boy in the dream who fended off the onrushing car--to watch the aging Mafia don die in prison.

There is probably no one in the Los Angeles legal community who has quite the mystique of Tony Brooklier, a tall, perfectly coiffed Italian-American who has somehow managed to straddle the gap between a modern, successful criminal defense practice and the remnants of an underworld heritage that is centuries old.

The mystique has to do with more than the Hugo Boss pinstripe suits, more than the front table at Giuseppe that he frequents with Hollywood and reputed underworld luminaries, more than the quick, evasive joke that is elicited whenever anyone asks him about the family business. ("If I told you, I'd have to kill you," he once muttered to an inquiring reporter.) Through it all, there is the nagging sense that the consigliere image is cheerfully cultivated, artfully crafted--and, like most successful illusions, rooted somewhere in fact.

Brooklier, a partner in the small Beverly Hills law firm of Marks & Brooklier, has built a respected practice, one that ranges beyond organized crime, defending accused white-collar criminals, cocaine barons, corrupt public officials, stock swindlers, even former law-enforcement agents. But Brooklier--along with his longtime law partner Donald B. Marks--is unquestionably the man the Los Angeles mob calls first when there's trouble with the law. Brooklier has handled at least a part of virtually every case brought to federal court by the Los Angeles Strike Force on Organized Crime in the past 10 years.

It was Brooklier who, in a 1987 stolen-securities case, won an acquittal for Michael Rizzitello, described in numerous court documents and government reports as one of the most powerful organized-crime figures in Southern California today. It was Brooklier who got Robert (Fat Bobby) Paduano, whom state attorney general's reports describe as a Mafia associate, acquitted of stock-swindling charges in 1986. And it was Brooklier who helped lead the plea negotiations last year that led to unexpectedly lenient sentences for most of the Peter J. Milano crime family.

Now, in one of the most important organized-crime cases to go to trial here in several years, Brooklier will defend Rizzitello in Orange County Superior Court on charges that Rizzitello fired three bullets into the head of Santa Ana nightclub owner Bill Carroll, who had allegedly been resisting the mob's attempt to muscle in on club revenues. (The trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow.)

"This is for not letting us eat," Rizzitello is alleged to have snarled as he fired the gun from the back seat of a car one night in 1987 while the driver, co-defendant Joey Grosso, allegedly held Carroll down.

The nightclub owner was permanently blinded but survived. For 18 months, he refused to say who had shot him and why, but finally, when prosecutors agreed to dismiss unrelated fraud charges against him, Carroll identified Rizzitello and Grosso as his attackers. Brooklier says he expects to prove that law-enforcement officials, desperate to get Rizzitello behind bars, put Carroll up to fingering the longtime reputed Mafia figure. He also says he'll suggest who did shoot Carroll, and why Carroll was too confused--or afraid--to identify his real attacker.

Only a few of the city's most hardened criminal investigators still voice suspicions about Brooklier's background as the son of a former Mafia boss. Most top prosecutors say Brooklier is an energetic, highly principled attorney who has shrewdly capitalized on his heritage to cash in on what, with the Justice Department's sweeping crackdown on the mob over the past decade, has been a lucrative field of law.

"He certainly knows those kind of guys come to him, and he represents them, and he makes money off them," says James Henderson, the former federal prosecutor who successfully tried Dominic Brooklier in 1980. "Moreover, the reason they come to him has something to do with who his father was. He's Dominic Brooklier's son. They probably feel he can be trusted more than other lawyers they know." But Brooklier, Henderson says, "bends over backward" to allay any suspicions that he is the mob's representative at the courthouse.

Aging mob boss Dominic Brooklier was Tony's initiation into the high-stakes world of criminal defense law, seeking his son's help to fight the first of two massive federal indictments for extortion, racketeering and contract murder returned against him and his lieutenants just three years after Tony graduated from law school in 1971.

The second indictment led to a 1980 trial, during which the young lawyer helped cross-examine one of his childhood friends and stood before a U.S. district judge in a tearful plea for his father's freedom. It is something that Brooklier over the years has refused to publicly discuss.

But gradually, in a series of interviews during the past several months, Brooklier for the first time revealed the details of his unusual childhood, growing up in Orange County as the son of a seemingly ordinary car dealer who authorities say was inducted into the criminal world's most secret society, an affectionate father who worried about his sons' grades at school--and a man so powerful and revered that conversation would stop when he walked into a room.

"I don't know what it was," Brooklier says. "I saw it when I was 5 years old. My father could walk into a place, and for whatever reason, the room would stop. It was as if every eye was on him. He just had an incredible charisma in a very subtle way. He wasn't loud, he wasn't fast-talking, he was understated. But men respected my father."


For Dominic Bruccoleri, born in 1913 just after his parents arrived from Palermo, Sicily, surviving in Detroit's crowded Italian neighborhoods depended not on how fast you talked, but how smoothly. He picked up English by the time he was 8, along with the anglicized family name, "Brooklier," and became a whiz at numbers by analyzing odds and making bets at the horse races.

Dominic made his way the way every other kid on the streets made his way: hustling. Setting up pins at the bowling alley. Dipping into the till when the opportunity presented itself. Charging guys for not being hassled when they tried to park with their girlfriends outside. But all that changed when Brooklier, as he always told it, took the rap for some older guys for robbing a bakery in Toledo and went off to the Ohio State Penitentiary.

He spent the first 48 hours in a cell so small he couldn't even sit, and was repeatedly beaten and antagonized by a guard for so long that one day, in a rage, he heaved the sentry over the side of the third-tier cellblock. The guard survived, but Brooklier got an extra several years. While waiting it out, he befriended Fratianno, who was serving 10 to 25 years for attacking and robbing a bookmaker behind on his tribute payments.

Eventually, both of them ended up in Los Angeles at the beginning of what would become the notorious Sunset Wars of the late 1940s and early 1950s, when gangster Mickey Cohen, the West Coast's legendary mob chieftain, was struggling to hold on to the city's gambling and loan-sharking rackets against a veritable siege of Italian upstarts--among them, Fratianno and Brooklier.

On July 20, 1949, Cohen and a few friends were emerging from a post-midnight supper at Sherry's Restaurant when a flash of gunfire erupted from behind a nearby billboard. Cohen and three others were hit; one of Cohen's top thugs was killed, but the rest survived.

Although the shooting was never officially solved, Fratianno years later in his memoir, "The Last Mafioso," said Brooklier had been one of the two gunmen.

At the time, Brooklier was married--to the former Frances McBride, a woman Tony describes as "an Irish Lucille Ball"--and had started a family and settled down in Monterey Park. "We led a very 'Ozzie and Harriet' life," Tony says. "I kid you not."

Well, not entirely. There was the time in the middle of the Sunset Wars when, fearing retaliation from Cohen's henchmen, Brooklier packed his wife, 3-year-old Tony and his baby brother and a bodyguard on a plane to hide in Texas until things cooled off. By the time he was 6 or 7, Tony remembers sensing that something wasn't quite right about his father, "like maybe something bad had happened to him once."

"Maybe I'd overheard something, but I started asking my mother questions," he says. "She was evasive, which made me more curious, so I'd just ask more questions. And I think, just to lay the cards on the table, my father just told me. You know, 'Just shut the kid up; let's tell him the truth.' " He told his son about the years he had spent in the penitentiary, about how he had thrown the guard over the rail and why, "and that he didn't want that for his children," Tony recalls.

The elder Brooklier, Tony says, was always direct with his children. When an indignant nun threw Tony out of a fourth-grade Catholic-school class in Los Angeles for questioning the doctrine of original sin--the idea that a baby who died without being baptized was irreversibly bound for purgatory--he was alled into the principal's office to face his father and an alternative: Either apologize to the nun in front of the class or be expelled.

"I had told the nun that this couldn't be true," he said. "She said it was true. I said it wasn't fair. She looked peeved and said something like, 'Life is unfair.' So I said, 'Then it's B.S."

Brooklier took his son out of the earshot of the principal and sat down. "What are you going to do?" he asked.

"I don't know," Tony replied. "What do you think?"

"It's up to you."

"You won't be mad no matter what I do?"

"No, I won't be mad," Brooklier said.

At that point, Tony decided he had been right to begin with. It was unfair.

"I think it's B.S., too," his father replied. Tony was enrolled in public school near the family's new home in Anaheim.

One late night just a few months later, the stillness was broken by a knock on the door. Tony and his two brothers were in their pajamas watching television, and Tony got up to see who was there.

"I go to the door, there's like 15 cops with their guns drawn," he recalls. "I say, 'What do you want?' I say, 'Who are you?' They say, 'We're the police. Is your father home?' I say, 'You wanna arrest him?' They say, 'Yes.' I say, 'Do you have a warrant?' So the cop says, 'What are you, his lawyer?' "

The officers burst into the house and grabbed Brooklier on a complaint alleging attempted extortion. "Have you ever seen anybody arrested?" Tony says, shaking his head. "It's traumatic to see somebody get arrested, even if you don't know them, but especially to see your father like that, at gunpoint. I mean, I'd never seen a gun before in my life."

The charges were later dropped, but the bitter memory lingered. At school, classmates had seen the elder Brooklier's photograph in the newspaper with the word "Mafia" next to it, and Tony heard about it the next day, over and over. "I had problems," he admits. "But I trusted my father, and I believed in him so much that I made myself be above that. And I stood up for him. The way I saw it, it was my privilege that he was my father."

Brooklier took over his own used-car dealership in Maywood, and Tony went to work for him after school, washing cars on the lot. FBI agents frequently monitored Brooklier's meetings with organized-crime figures at the dealership and at nearby restaurants, but what Tony remembers about those days are the long talks they'd have, the way they'd pass the time between customers.

The elder Brooklier had left school after the third grade, but they played a game in which Tony looked up the most obscure word he could find in the dictionary and asked his father to define it. "I think, without fail, he could tell you what it was," he says. "He had a lot of time when he was young, you know, so he constantly read."

Tony says he never knew whatever else his father might have been involved in at the time. Later, much later, Brooklier would talk with his son obliquely about "this thing"--the way in which Mafiosi in the United States, if they talk about it at all, refer to their organization, La Cosa Nostra: "this thing of ours." Mostly, Tony says, his father led him to believe that "this thing" was in his past.

But Fratianno, in his memoirs and in a recent interview, said that Brooklier even then was working as a soldier in the struggling Los Angeles crime family headed by Nick Licata. The two of them had been "made" as Mafiosi together in a ceremony in a small Los Angeles winery, Fratianno said.

Brooklier was becoming more and more powerful within the family by the time Tony graduated from Savanna High School in Anaheim in 1964 and got a congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Brooklier, Tony says, had always been "amazed" at the A's he and his brothers earned at school. "You have to consider the fact, here's a guy who when I was 15 was delighted that I didn't have any felony convictions."

Tony was determined to become a Navy fighter pilot. Brooklier flew back with his son to Annapolis for a day of touring, surveying the plight of the midshipmen "plebes" at the hands of their upperclassmen. "I feel like I just dropped him off at the joint," he remarked to his wife when he got back.

Midway through Tony's first year at the academy, a national report on organized crime identifying Brooklier as a high-ranking member of La Cosa Nostra in Los Angeles received national publicity. One of the commanders called Tony into his office. Tony didn't have to resign, he told him, but he should not expect to make a successful career with the Navy, either. "You know, 'You come up for advancement, who's going to get passed over?' It was a real shock to me. There I was, real proud to be part of the United States Navy, and all of a sudden, I'm not a midshipman anymore, I'm the son of a Mafia chieftain--boom."

Tony quietly resigned from the academy, but by then it didn't seem to matter. He had already decided to go into law and enrolled at Loyola University and, after that, at UCLA law school. "I wanted to put myself in a position to help my father," he explains. "Because I sensed when I was a kid what was going to happen. It's a thing all kids live with, you know--your parents will get divorced, they'll get hurt, they'll die. But that wasn't my fear. My thing was, see, I was so taken about what my father told me happened to him when he was a kid (in prison), I was so emotional about that, that I . . . was never going to let it happen again."

That, he figures, is where the dream came from, the one about hurling away the cars that were bearing down on his father. And that vision came to life late one night in 1974, while he was still with the state attorney general's office. Dominic Brooklier and several of his lieutenants had been indicted in a plot to extort money from bookmakers, loan sharks and pornographers.

Of 12 men indicted, Brooklier was the only one who had not surrendered by the time he knocked on his son's door at 2 a.m.

"You heard the news, I guess," Dominic Brooklier said quietly.

"Who's going to represent you?" Tony asked.

His father looked at him and smiled. "You are, of course."

Tony pointed out that he was only a few years out of law school, and hardly equipped to take on a racketeering case against a man accused of being under-boss of an organized crime family.

"Nothing like starting at the top," Brooklier replied.

With that, Tony ordered his father into the car, and the two drove all night from Sacramento to Los Angeles. He had to ask someone where the federal courthouse was. Surrendering his father to federal marshals, Tony sat down with the prosecutor on the case, veteran organized-crime strike-force attorney James Twitty. "How many indictments are there?" the young lawyer asked, trying to act knowledgeable.

"Why, there's only one indictment, Mr. Brooklier. Your father is charged in 11 counts of that one indictment." Twitty paused a moment. "Is this your first criminal case?"

Eventually, all 12 defendants entered guilty pleas under a rarely used legal provision that technically allowed them to continue to maintain their innocence. Brooklier was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Virtually the entire family was behind bars just after Licata, the family boss, died at the age of 77. When Brooklier emerged from prison in the mid-1970s, it was to take over as Mafia boss for all of Southern California.

AS DOMINIC Brooklier was leaving prison as a new Godfather, the FBI was gearing up for a long-range sting operation designed to put the Mafia in Los Angeles out of business for good. Two undercover agents set up a phony pornography business in Van Nuys, then leaked word that it might be a good target for a mob shakedown. Frank (the Bomp) Bompensiero, a Mafia capo in San Diego who had been informing for the FBI, spread the word.

By the time the mob discovered it was a setup, most of the Mafia's top lieutenants had been secretly recorded extorting the undercover agents. And on the night of Feb. 10, 1977, someone retaliated. Bompensiero's body was found in a pool of blood.

When the 20-count federal indictment came down charging Brooklier and four reputed lieutenants with masterminding both the pornography shakedown and related scams and obstruction of justice in connection with Bompensiero's murder, Fratianno, who had become the government's star Mafia witness, testified that Brooklier had put out the contract on Bompensiero.

Again, Brooklier asked his son to represent him--this time with experienced defense lawyer Alvin Michaelson.

"I was in a very touchy situation," Brooklier explains. "This is my father, and if I'm going to represent him effectively, I have to know what happened. And he told me, he said, 'I promise you, I swear to you, I had nothing to do with this.' He said, 'A couple of the other things, in terms of the conspiracies to extort, I may have a problem with that, OK? But I swear to you. . . .' He had nothing to do with Bompensiero. And that reassured me. Then, I felt that I could do it, with a clean conscience. I couldn't have done it, and I wouldn't have done it, if I'd thought he was guilty. But my father never lied to me."

Tony believed that Fratianno was lying about Brooklier's part in the murder to cover up his own role; he prepared an exhaustive cross-examination to expose Fratianno as an unreliable witness.

At the height of the two-month trial in 1980, Tony's law partner, Donald Marks, grilled Fratianno for days, exposing a few crucial inconsistencies between his testimony at trial and what he had said in his memoirs. Fratianno shrugged them off to bad memory.

Then it was learned that Arizona police had discovered hand-scrawled notes in exiled mob boss Joseph Bonanno's garbage can in Tucson, Ariz., five days after Bompensiero's killing. The notes, written in Italian and English, said: "Call Turi (the nickname of his son, Salvatore), PM. Tell Turi--Thursday night. Con Semiautomatica. Scanzalora (corta) 22. Che no fa tanto rumore." Translated, the note said, "Tell Turi--Thursday night, with a semiautomatic, gun (short) 22, that doesn't make much noise."

Bompensiero had been killed on a Thursday night, with a .22-caliber weapon equipped with a silencer.

Together with doubts about Fratianno's testimony, the note planted enough doubt in the jury's mind about who had killed Bompensiero to acquit Brooklier and the others on the charges related to the Bompensiero murder. Brooklier was convicted on 11 other lesser counts of extortion and racketeering.

Michaelson handled the closing argument in the case, but at Brooklier's sentencing two years later, it was Tony who stood at his father's side before U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr., calling his father at first simply "my client."

"Mr. Brooklier has been very dedicated to his wife, his children. He always has been," Tony said. "I am not going to attempt to fence with the court. There are things in the past that he shouldn't be proud of, I'm not proud of, but he has always provided for his family.

"I just remind the court that he is 67 years old," Tony went on, breaking into tears when he referred to his father's recent heart operation. "There is concern among his family about how many years he has left . . . and I can assure the court that, whatever sentence he does, he will be missed every day."

Brooklier was sentenced to four years in prison, but he never finished doing his time. He died in a Tucson prison medical center on July 18, 1984, 11 months into his term, six months before he would have been eligible for parole.

During the last few months, Tony flew to Tucson every week or so, and the two would talk about what their lives had come to, how Tony had become a successful lawyer and how Dominic had, as he saw it, outlived himself.

"I said to him once, 'I hoped that this was over, that the family couldn't take any more of this, my mother couldn't take any more of this,' " Tony recalls. "And he said, sort of in a philosophic way, 'It's been over for a long time.' He said, 'We're dinosaurs.' "

"My father was a product of his times, OK?" Tony says. "When my father was growing up, it wasn't very good to be Italian. My father strove for what he wanted within his world as he knew it. I have to think that things were different then. You know, it's easy to look back and say, 'You should've gone to Yale.' But things weren't like that when my father was born."

"This thing," he says, his voice catching, "this thing had outlived its reason for being. This was a defensive mechanism to fight the inequity and the injustice when Italian people first established themselves in the United States. And when it became something that was not noble . . . something that was not in favor of justice, in the broadest sense, it had outlived itself. And my father understood that. It was over. It is over."

These days in the Brooklier family, the Mafia is regarded a little like an amusing old aunt. In the office of his well-tended home in Anaheim, Tony keeps an old photo of himself and his two brothers with the inscription, "Wanted for Questioning by the FBI. (Call 1-800-DON'T START CAR.)"


Brooklier, ordinarily one of Los Angeles' priciest lawyers (his retainer alone can run into tens of thousands of dollars), is representing Michael Rizzitello for what he admits is a nominal fee. Rizzitello was short of cash, he says, "and I don't feel I can turn my back on him over money."

For some lawyers and investigators, that raises anew the question that Brooklier admits has dogged him throughout his legal career: How much of his business grows out of old loyalties to his father and his father's friends?

The question gets at the nagging label of "mob lawyer" that occasionally attaches to Brooklier, a tag that carries a host of shady connotations that have little to do with Brooklier's practice. Many, schooled in Hollywood, associate "mob lawyers" with Robert Duvall's character in "The Godfather," a consigliere who is an initiated member of the crime family and who counsels the family leadership on its illegal activities.

There's a big difference between that and what Brooklier does, which is to represent reputed Mafia defendants in court, much as he might any other criminal defendant. But some prosecutors and investigators wonder whether Brooklier's long association with mob figures has made him more reluctant than other lawyers to allow his clients to cooperate with government investigations of organized crime.

"The way the Mafia works is, they need house counsel," says one longtime organized-crime investigator, who asked not to be identified. "What they need is somebody the Mafia knows will not run to the prosecution and make a deal and give up the rest of the Mafia.

"The mystery about Tony is, which hat does he have on at what time of day? A lot of his clients are mob guys. Why do they go to him? Is it because they know they can trust him?"

Many criminal defense lawyers frequently encourage their clients to agree to testify against other co-defendants as a way of obtaining more lenient sentences. Brooklier, however, has almost never negotiated a cooperation agreement on behalf of a client; in fact, he admits, independent record promoter Ralph Tashjian's recent agreement to cooperate in the government's long-running investigation into payola in the entertainment industry is the first he has ever negotiated as a lawyer. And it "took a lot of soul searching" before he decided it would be in Tashjian's best interests to cooperate, he says.

"Don't forget, the prosecutorial agency that Tashjian has agreed to cooperate with is the prosecutorial agency that put my father in jail, where he died. OK? So I had a lot of personal things to overcome," Brooklier says.

Given that he leaves decisions on whether to cooperate up to his clients, why is it that it has happened only once in more than a decade? "I think a lot of it has to do with my background," he says slowly, pausing to ponder the question. "My background is, you don't enter into an agreement with someone and then, when everybody gets caught, turn on them. You take your lumps. And I've had to reconcile that with my obligations as a lawyer. My obligation as a lawyer comes first."

In court, Brooklier has a reputation for meticulous preparation and a dangerously disarming style. In the midst of a major organized-crime racketeering case with half a dozen defendants, several prosecutors said, Brooklier is usually the defense lawyer who doesn't stand up with constant objections. He smiles and shakes his head when asked if he wants to cross-examine a witness--until the one witness with damaging testimony about his client takes the stand. Then he unloads a stinging interrogation he's been up all night preparing.

The result, says former strike-force prosecutor John DuBois, who lost the Rizzitello stolen-securities case to Brooklier last year, is that the jury tends to forget everything about Brooklier's clients except the weaknesses in the cases against them.

"Some people, in order to get noticed, have to scream and yell. Tony doesn't. He's sort of beyond that," says Asst. U.S. Atty. Mark Bonner, who believes Brooklier's direct, nonconfrontational style won a surprisingly lenient sentence for a woman Bonner believed to be a key player in a major cocaine ring. "You've gotta keep your eyes on him like a hawk, because if you don't, before you know it, your pants are off and you're standing there naked. He's a very dangerous customer. . . . He doesn't make mistakes."


At Giuseppe Ristorante on any given Friday night, Brooklier is likely to finish his pasta and grab the microphone at the piano for a rendition of "Jailhouse Rock" (he loves Elvis) followed by "Volare"--in Italian--"for my mom."

"We think Elvis Presley was Italian," Brooklier announced to the unwary diners one recent night. "Don't prepare to be entertained. Prepare to be appalled."

He hasn't always seemed so lighthearted. His father's trial "almost killed him," and at first he didn't seem likely to recover, says his mother.

"It was like that for all of us," Frances Brooklier says. "The last time I saw (Dominic) in prison, I remember walking through the door, and he had aged so much. I turned around to go, and he had told me never to turn around, but I looked back and his shoulders looked like a man who was 90 years old."

Tony left his wife, Nancy, soon after, and didn't move back in again until just a few months ago, before their 21st anniversary. "It seemed like he wanted to stay away from everybody he loved," Frances Brooklier recalls.

Brooklier says it was important for him to go home again to be with his two sons, ages 15 and 18, to be the kind of father to them that Dominic was to him. "It's very important to me," he said one night over dinner, tears suddenly, unexpectedly, streaming down his face, "that you understand that I respect my father. . . ." His voice faltered. "Ultimately--" He stopped again to catch his breath. "And I miss him every day."

Perhaps, it was suggested to him, the worst of it is the old dream again, but this time, the car wasn't turned away. This time, the father would be separated from the son for good. "He wasn't. Listen to me," Brooklier says, finally breaking down completely. "He was never separated from me. . . ."

Yet life, as always, has a way of strolling on. Just last year, James Henderson, the prosecutor who put Tony's father in prison, launched a book project with Brooklier about the close friendship that had grown between the two men in the years since the trial. Although the book deal is indefinite at this point, Brooklier has signed a separate contract for a TV movie with the Guber-Peters Co. His agent? Bruce Kelton, the former strike-force prosecutor who also sat on the prosecution team, the guy who urged jurors to remember that Dominic Brooklier and his lieutenants were nothing more than "swines in a sewer."

"Small world," Brooklier shrugs. "Isn't it?"

When Murphy wrote this story in 1987 for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, she had covered the federal courts in Los Angeles for 2 1/2 years. She went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent and now serves as an assistant managing editor for The Times.

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