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Flynt Attorney Denies Check Written For Assassinations

October 27, 1988 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A $1 million check Hustler publisher Larry Flynt gave a soldier of fortune was a joke and a story that it was payment for killing Frank Sinatra and three publishers was concocted later, Flynt’s lawyer said Thursday.

Bizarre behavior by Flynt was at its height when he allegedly wrote the check on Nov. 14, 1983, to Mitchel L. WerBell for the slaying of Sinatra, Playboy publisher Hugh M. Hefner, Penthouse publisher Robert Guccione, and former TV Guide publisher and U.S. ambassador Walter Annenberg.

″The allegations are totally unfounded,″ said Flynt’s attorney, Alan Isaacman. ″Back in November 1983, Larry Flynt had a dinner party and gave out, as a joke, million-dollar checks to about half a dozen people.″

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WerBell, head of a Georgia private security center called Sionics Inc., of which Flynt was a client, was among those given a check at the party, said Isaacman, ″and there wasn’t any talk of killing anyone. That was someone else’s idea.″

He said none of the guests tried to cash their checks, including WerBell. He said it was found by WerBell’s sons after his death of a heart attack in December 1983, and they tried to cash it in February 1984. It had been canceled by then.

The sons sued Flynt in a Georgia court to get the money, and Isaacman said the case was thrown out. The check was preserved as part of the court record, he said.

WerBell’s son, Mitchell L. Werbell IV, told the Atlanta Constitution, ″Los Angeles County may be on to something, but they’ve never called us to see if we knew anything about allegations that are complete garbage.″ He said he believed the check was for expenses and services.

Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Grimm said Wednesday there was no evidence the alleged plot went further. But Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block said Wednesday he took the matter seriously, although no charges had been filed.

″I’ve been led to believe that Larry Flynt has a propensity to try to harm people he sees as his enemies, whether (over) business arrangements or whatever,″ Block said.

″I think he was just a little crazy,″ said Guccione, who added that he took the threat seriously. ″It was a very irrational act because neither Hefner nor I compete with his magazine ... And if you factor in Annenberg and Sinatra, it becomes even more irrational. For me, I just put it down to Flynt’s obvious dislike for me,″ he said.

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″When you’re a celebrity and controversial, you wind up on one of those crazy lists with Reagan, Sinatra and the pope,″ Hefner said in a statement.

Susan Reynolds, publicist for Sinatra, said the entertainer had no comment.

A secretary at Annenberg’s Radnor, Pa., office said, ″The only one who can speak on this is the ambassador, and he just isn’t available right now.″ A member of Annenberg’s house staff who answered the telephone at his Rancho Mirage estate also said he was not available. Neither woman would give her name.

Flynt, paralyzed from the waist down since an assassination attempt 10 years ago, has said he was addicted, along with his late wife Althea, to a number of drugs he took for pain.

In the fall of 1983 he announced he was running for president; falsely claimed he had important tape recordings relating to the John De Lorean cocaine conspiracy trial; and threatened to jump out of an airplane without a parachute ″to save the world.″

He also made a court appearance wearing a flak jacket, combat helmet, a Purple Heart medal and diapers made from an American flag.

Grimm said information about the alleged plot turned up recently in the investigation of the 1983 murder-for-hire slaying of New York theater producer Roy Radin, whom authorities said was embroiled in a soured finance deal for the movie ″The Cotton Club.″

A former bodyguard for Flynt, William Mentzer, is one of four defendants charged in the Radin killing and William Rider, another former Flynt bodyguard, has been identified in court documents as a key witness.

Isaacman said he ″has a pretty good idea″ of where the murder-for-hire allegations originated, noting that Rider’s multimillion-dollar unlawful dismissal suit against Flynt is due for a hearing in January.