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Drugs, Diamonds, International Intrigue — You Won't Believe Two Hollywood Producers' Crazy Backstory 

Thursday, Jan 2 2014
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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.

Martirosian pleaded guilty and admitted the facts as outlined above. However, today he maintains his innocence.

He asserts that the only reason he traveled to Costa Rica was to buy coffee for a chain of shops in Moscow. His sole mistake, he says, was agreeing to translate into Russian a conversation about cocaine. He also believes that federal authorities were pursuing him because he had beaten the earlier case.

click to enlarge Chase and Martirosian say they put up 80 percent of the money for Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg.
  • Chase and Martirosian say they put up 80 percent of the money for Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg.

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"They knew I had nothing to do with drugs," Martirosian says. "I'm not a drug dealer. There is nobody in the world that can say I did any criminal act."

Under the plea agreement, he was sentenced to nine years. He also agreed to help the government prosecute other cases.

Around this time, Martirosian called an old acquaintance, Michael Yamanis, a Greek businessman who had recently been released from prison after running a massive marijuana-trafficking organization in the late 1970s and early '80s.

"I'm not exactly a dummy. I know that he was calling from prison," Yamanis says from his home in the Dominican Republic. "He mentioned cocaine. I said, 'What the hell are you talking about? You must be nuts.' I never have anything to do with cocaine. Marijuana, yes. I handled plenty of marijuana — the most."

Yamanis knew how the game was played. Once arrested, a suspect will often play Scheherazade — telling as many stories as it takes to save his own skin. His own sentence had been reduced from 60 years to 10 because he provided information to the government.

"You're not going to go out [of prison] in America by paying money," he says. "You're going to go out by telling them who the drug dealers are."

Soon afterward, Yamanis was indicted, and his name was added to Martirosian's case. (Martirosian denies that he informed on Yamanis.) The charge eventually was dropped, however, and Yamanis was never arrested. Now 79, he is still offended by the idea that Martirosian tried to set him up.

"If I wanted to do something in the drug business, why would I do it with him?" he asks. "He's a nobody."

Although that case went nowhere, Martirosian appears to have been rewarded. His sentence was reduced to three years. Condemned twice to nine-year sentences, he served a grand total of just five. In 1996, he was again a free man.

By the time he was 34, Remington Chase had been to several colleges without getting a degree, and had gone by several names. At the time he was primarily known as William Paul Elliot, but he had also used William Elliot Westwood. Friends just called him Bill.

He says his multiple aliases stemmed from his career as a child actor. "From the age of 5 to 20," he says, "I must have had no less than 10 names. It was absurd."

As a young man he became a pilot. He also racked up a record of petty offenses. In 1989, Chase was arrested for allegedly passing forged checks to pay for airplane repairs. In 1990, he was caught shoplifting glue at a building supply store, according to an LAPD report.

Then, in January 1993, he flew from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and then caught a connecting flight to Jacksonville. He picked up two items at the Delta ticket counter, went to his hotel and made a phone call.

That night, he and a friend boarded a yacht on the St. Johns River. Inside, they met their contact, who told them he had $20,000 — the agreed purchase price for a 1-kilo sample of cocaine. If the deal worked out, Chase had agreed to fly with him back to L.A., where he would sell the contact another 20 kilos.

Chase and his friend returned to the yacht after midnight, with one kilo in two plastic bags. Their contact field-tested it, and then turned over $20,000 for Chase to count.

Chase and his friend disembarked. But before they were even off the docks, they were in handcuffs — accused of selling to undercover DEA agents. According to his plea agreement, Chase quickly admitted his guilt and volunteered to cooperate.

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