Before he became the subject of the HBO film The Wizard of Lies, Steven A. Epstein was another name on Anthony Pellicano’s motley assortment of clients, at least according to Epstein’s pilot, Steven Martingayle. The former security director for the Hollywood producer detailed his years of friendship with Anthony Pellicano, starting with a party with former porn star and regular party attendee Lori Ann “Lusty” Cavallo. But when Henry Hill testified before the grand jury in what would eventually be the downfall of Pellicano, not all the details were clear, Martingayle said.
“I think he was just trying to figure out what happened,” said Martingayle of Hill’s testimony, which implicated Pellicano in the wrongful conviction of Rodney Alcala, an HIV-positive man who had been convicted of murdering five women and three young girls in the 1970s. Hill was quoted as saying he had told witnesses at a party with Coco Chanel and Truman Capote that he had seen a young woman handcuffed to a stake and shot. That testimony would eventually implicate Pellicano, whose record-setting wiretapping and bank fraud trial inspired the HBO movie based on his story.
“Hill was only speculating — it seemed like he was trying to explain things to other people who weren’t there,” said Martingayle.
But Martingayle still had a chilling tale about the late financier, Brad Barr, the former owner of the Forum theater in Westwood. After the movie The Producers opened in 1977, Barr and others got a feel for Barr’s wealth. One night, he was invited over to a late-night dinner and the assembled guests stumbled out on Barr’s backyard, which was a veritable runway of cars piled on one another. “We saw cars with the top down going back and forth,” said Martingayle. “There was a flatbed truck with a bucket of water, so they were moving cars around to get to their next stop.”
Barr would later be convicted of selling more than $100 million in federal bonds to Bernard Madoff and Irving Picard, as well as laundering drug money. He lived a life similar to the one depicted in The Wizard of Lies, according to Martingayle, who vividly describes Epstein’s home, named Sharky’s, whose bedrooms have “private beaches” and sprawling properties with basketball and tennis courts. When a handful of federal agents raided the compound in 1993, Starr’s defense attorneys called the search “a witch hunt.”
The thoroughness of the feds had “ruined Sharky’s,” said Martingayle. On the afternoon of the raid, the home was overrun with emergency vehicles and emergency responders. Although it wasn’t immediately clear what they were looking for, they drove through Sharky’s in full SWAT gear, including combat helmets and gas masks. When they finally opened the gate, they found Epstein alone, locked in the bathroom. “It was his apartment, and he was upset and sweating,” said Martingayle. “He couldn’t understand why he had to do this.”
They asked him about Pellicano, and Epstein denied ever associating with him. “It’s because of his connections to dirt on celebrities and politicians, and power-brokers,” said Martingayle. “He had all that protected, and that’s why I think that was the motive. He was upset.”
When a concerned Epstein went to get Pellicano to speak to agents about the taping of his conversation, Pellicano ordered him out of the room. When Epstein called Pellicano a liar and implored him to come back, he was again escorted out. “I said that he can’t hurt me, he can’t talk to me, he can’t act the way he does,” said Martingayle. “I wasn’t scared of him — he knew that.”
Read the full story at LA Weekly.
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