Friday, January 17, 2014


  Amid the drinks, parties and madness of the Golden Globes I bumped into Maxine Leonard, a British publicist I have known since she arrived in Los Angeles some 20 years ago. Maxine was still embarrassed at having been asked as a favour to temporarily represent the producers of the hit film Lone Survivor and sit in on an interview they gave to L.A. Weekly.

 But the interview didn't turn out as she expected because according to L.A Weekly---and Maxine's shocked amazement--- the producers,  Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian, are convicted cocaine dealers and have ties to Russian oil and an alleged contract murder.
Remington Chase, Stefan MartirosianHollywood financiers Remington Chase and Stefan Martirosian (at left, Chase, with actor Gerard Butler and Martirosian)

 The two burst onto the Hollywood scene in September 2011. From the L.A Weekly story:
They had set up a company, Envision Entertainment, along with a $250 million fund to produce films in partnership with two low-budget action producers, Randall Emmett and George Furla. In 2012, another announcement boosted the fund to $525 million.
The announcements were not exactly true. There was no “fund,” and the numbers were chosen for effect more than accuracy, according to Grant Cramer, an executive VP at Envision. But the pair was pumping serious money into production. Soon they were getting executive producer credits on big-budget films.
 The producers admit to having lost more than $50 million on the dozen movies they have backed so far, including “2 Guns,” with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, and “Escape Plan,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among their projects now in development are movies based on two Hasbro board games: Monopoly and Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Martirosian’s past with cocaine is detailed in court papers, according to the story:
In May 1993, he arranged financing and traveled to Costa Rica to check on suppliers. Unfortunately for him, the DEA had infiltrated the suppliers. Over the course of several meetings with an undercover agent, Martirosian agreed to help transport 800 kilos to St. Augustine, Fla. They agreed that Martirosian would send $200,000 from L.A. to Colombia, and that the cocaine would be shipped from Colombia to Costa Rica and on to Florida. Instead, in September 1993, he was arrested in a St. Augustine hotel room.
In all, nine people were indicted. In Costa Rica, the head of the federal police held a press conference and announced that the group had controlled much of the Costa Rican drug trade, according to an article in La Nación.
 Both men say that they were never involved in the drug trade despite the convictions. They claim they were wrongly ensnared by law enforcement officials who at one point caught Martirosian with a duffel bag filled with four kilos of cocaine and a Russian newspaper on a bus outside a Texas border patrol checkpoint.
 “I’ve never seen any cocaine in my life,” he told the LA Weekly, blaming it instead on a group of Egyptian travelers.
 They’re also caught up in an investigation into the killing of Kasca Kalandarishvili, a Russian oil and gas businessman, who was shot in the back of the head in 2009 while walking his dog in Moscow.  A convicted murderer named Istvan Kele tells the weekly that he was offered $100,000 for the murder and that Martirosian gave him two guns to do the job.
  Meanwhile, Chase acknowledged that he was an FBI informant in the case of the killing.
“[Kele] and his team were going to come there, murder whoever was in the condo and take the money,” Chase says. “When I learned of the events, I contacted the FBI. Let me ask you: What would you do?”
  Maxine told me: "I was so shocked and embarrassed. They weren't even my clients. I was only do it as a favour for a friend." 

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