. . . And most of them lived happily ever after

Steve Lopez
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Staff Writer

Five years later . . .

From the Associated Press
TODOS SANTOS, Mexico -- The mangled body of suspected Marenco Cartel drug lord Vincent Palmieri -- who appeared to have been shot twice and also attacked by sharks -- washed ashore early Tuesday morning and was discovered by fishermen line-casting from the beach.

Palmieri had been at large for three years after skipping bail in Los Angeles, where he was awaiting trial in the infamous "Birds of Paradise" case involving former U.S. congressman Antonio Falco, Malibu TV producer Charlie Bonner and a host of Las Vegas showgirls working as prostitutes.

Palmieri was believed to have been romantically involved with Genie Bonner, wife of the TV producer and a co-defendant. The two fled L.A. at the same time and were seen boarding a yacht together last week in Cabo San Lucas. Authorities said there was no sign of the yacht or of Genie Bonner.


Little Chapel of the Flowers, Las Vegas

"Do you, Hermann Hauser, take Evelyn Falco to be your lawfully wedded wife, so long as you both shall live?"

"I do," said Hauser, squeezing his bride's thorn-scarred hand. "I wish I'd met her before that gasbag congressman got his hands on her."

"He doesn't exist, Hermie. You're my first real man."

"Excuse me," the minister interrupted, "but may we proceed?"

"Watch it, Rev," Hauser told him. "You're looking at USMC and FBI, retired."


In the office of Falco & Greene, Century City

"The question is this: Is the mayor guilty of a crime or just lazy about who drops money into his lap?" ex-judge Laurence M. Greene asked.

"Depends on what you mean by guilty," said his partner, former congressman Tony Falco of Beverly Hills.

After serving less than six months in prison for their roles in the "Birds of Paradise" scandal, Falco and Greene had become the go-to political consultants for California public officials in need of damage control.

"You call Bert Fields, see what he wants to do here," Falco told Greene. "Meantime, I'll get hold of Pellicano."


Jumbo's Clown Room, Hollywood

"Why should I let you write a column about me, Lopez?

"It's an interesting story, Mr. Zell. I mean, it's not as if the Chandlers would have sold the L.A. Times and bought a strip joint called Jumbo's Clown Room in the same week. Besides, you seem to like having your name in print."

"Not when you're doing the printing. I swear, if you'd written one more smart-aleck column about beach access at my place in Malibu, I'd have had you fired. And don't think your new owner won't do the same."

"Didn't you hear?" Lopez asked. "I just bought Geffen's beach compound."

Sam Zell lifted a glass and narrowed his eyes.

"Where'd you get that kind of dough?" he asked Lopez. "I knew I was paying you too much."

"Just sold a screenplay, Sam. They're shooting the movie as we speak."


Stage 27, Sony Pictures Studio, Culver City

"And, action!" said the young director, who was working his first feature film after six years in reality TV.

"He's brilliant, this kid," Charlie Bonner told his new partner and executive producer. "I may not know much, Ernesto, but I know talent when I see it."

Ernesto Padilla still didn't like Bonner. A G-man never goes soft, and he still resented the fact that Bonner had lawyered up big-time and was out of the can in three months.

But Ernesto was no dummy. A cool couple of million for a modest amount of consulting? Come on, it'd take 20 years to knock that many coconuts out of the tree as a DEA agent.

And then there was his beautiful wife, who was pulling down another million playing the pole dancer, fresh off a Golden Globe nomination for her star turn in the latest Bond movie.

"Ernesto, you're a lucky man," Bonner said as Carmen Madonna Louise Ventura slithered up and down a shiny brass pole on the set of "Birds of Paradise." They were six weeks into the $96-million production, starring Keanu Reeves as Charlie Bonner.

Ernesto puffed on a Cuban and smiled like a thief.


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