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Mastermind in 'Cotton Club' kidnap-murder gets life in prison

LOS ANGELES -- A former cocaine dealer was sentenced to life in prison Friday for masterminding the 1983 kidnapping of producer Roy Radin that led to his murder in a dispute over financing of the movie 'The Cotton Club.'

Karen DeLayne 'Lanie' Greenberger, 43, was convicted last July of second-degree murder and a kidnapping count that carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.

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Greenberger hired hit men Alex Marti, 30, William Mentzer, 42, and Robert Ulmer Lowe, 44, who were convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and six special circumstance allegations.

Marti was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The other two could be sentenced to die in California's gas chamber.

Radin's bullet-riddled body was found in a canyon in Gorman north of Los Angeles by a beekeeper in June 1983, about a month after the 33- year-old former New York theatrical producer disappeared.

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Greenberger's attorney, Edward Shohat, argued for a term of 16 years to life in prison, but the judge refused, saying Greenberger knew the kidnapping for the purpose of extortion was likely to end in Radin's death.

'Impose a severe sentence that would grant Mrs. Greenberger a hope, not a promise, but a hope that she may someday return to society,' Shohat said.

In an emotional appeal for Greenberger to get the maximum sentence of life without possibility of parole, Kate Radin propped small framed photos of her brother on the witness stand and read a poem.

'Maybe he isn't a perfect 10, but maybe you'll think before you hire a triggerman again,' she said.

Prosecutors said that in exchange for introducing Radin to Hollywood producer Robert Evans, Greenberger had demanded 50 percent of the profits from the production company the two men planned to form to finance the 'The Cotton Club.'

Radin, a millionaire theatrical producer who wanted to become a Hollywood movie mogul, was killed because he rejected Greenberger's demands and because Greenberger suspected Radin stole $270,000 in cash and 11 kilograms of cocaine from her, Deputy District Attorney David Conn told the jury.

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Radin was last seen alive getting into a limousine rented by Greenberger outside a Hollywood hotel. The two were to have dinner at La Scala, an upscale Beverly Hills restaurant.

After they left the hotel, Lowe, posing as a chauffeur, pulled over and Greenberger got out of the limo as Marti and Mentzer climbed in with guns.

They drove to the Gorman area where Marti emptied his revolver into Radin's head, prosecutors said. Mentzer then fired a single shot into the back of Radin's head and put a small stick of dynamite in his mouth and blew his face off.

Near tears as she spoke from a hand-written statement, Kate Radin told Greenberger, 'We couldn't look at Roy's body. It was a skeleton with very little of the head intact from gunshots and dynamite.'

Superior Court Judge Curtis Rappe refused Greenberger's request to drop the special circumstance allegation of kidnapping for extortion that mandates life in prison.

'I find it hard to believe, in fact impossible to believe, that she just thought Mr. Radin was going to be taken for a ride,' Rappe said. 'The potential for violence loomed large.'

After Radin's death, Evans went on to produce the film about the famed Cotton Club jazz night spotin Harlem. The film, set during the Prohibition era and starring Richard Gere and Gregory Hines, was released in 1984 to lukewarm reviews and flopped at the box office.

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