CAROLE LITTLE MURDER CASE: RABINOWITZ IS SUBPOENAED
Byline: Kristi Ellis and Louise Farr
LOS ANGELES — With the prosecution unable to locate a key witness, deputy district attorney Ellen Aragon said Thursday that she has subpoenaed Leonard Rabinowitz, co-chairman of California Fashion Industries Inc., to testify at the trial of Karapet Demirdzhyan, accused in the murder of outside contractor Hakop (Jack) Antonyan.
Meanwhile, in another development, the Employment Development Division, California’s payroll tax agency, raided the offices Wednesday of Pobada Manufacturing, a Glendale sewing contractor that for several years has done work for California Fashion Industries. According to Jose Millan, state acting labor commissioner, the EDD was seeking information about Pobada workers being paid in cash while also drawing unemployment benefits.
In the Antonyan case, the DA’s office is still attempting to subpoena Karen Wong Holzinger, former vice president of domestic sourcing for California Fashions, which produces the Carole Little lines. Her testimony is sought as part of a prosecution strategy to tie the Antonyan murder to a pattern of violence that has affected the company for the past two years.
Holzinger was threatened and shot at while still an employee of the firm, and her house was firebombed hours after Antonyan was murdered on Nov. 2, 1993.
After a pretrial hearing here, Aragon told WWD that she will ask Rabinowitz to testify about the business conditions at his company prior to the Antonyan murder, if Holzinger does not show up in court.
“Without Karen Wong Holzinger, we will probably have to call Leonard Rabinowitz and ask him what happened at the company and with its contractors,” Aragon said. But she quickly pointed out that if Holzinger testifies, she will not need Rabinowitz’s testimony.
“But if we have Leonard, it doesn’t mean that we won’t need Karen,” Aragon said, adding that Rabinowitz’s testimony would be of a more general nature.
Contacted for comment, Rabinowitz said that he was surprised about the subpoena. He said that he had never been approached about the case until now.
“I told [the prosecutors] that I would like to be prepared and that I don’t know anything about the incident,” Rabinowitz said. “Obviously, they feel that there is some connection [to the company] because [the Antonyans] did work for us.”
Another pretrial hearing in the case has been set for Jan. 18 to resolve a discovery issue, in which, Aragon said, the defense is requesting information from Federal authorities. She would not specify what type of information is sought. The trial is to start no later than Jan. 31.
Discussing the Pobada raid, Millan said his agency, the Department of Industrial Relations, uncovered information on cash payments last May and turned it over to the EDD. Until last week, Millan said, the agencies were cooperating as part of a multi-agency probe into the violence affecting the Carole Little company. The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are also investigating the case.
“I do think it’s regrettable that certain agencies jump the gun rather than acting in a coordinated fashion,” said Millan.
Labor consultant Jess Atilano, who represents Pobada in labor-related matters, confirmed reports that company owners Henzel and Arthur Harutian have retained attorney Robert Shapiro, who gained nationwide prominence as a defense attorney for O.J. Simpson.
“Enough is enough,” said Atilano. “My clients are being harassed.”
EDD supervisor Brett Cowles, who is reported to have led the raid, was out of his office. Reached by phone on Thursday, Arthur Harutian refused to comment on the developments. Shapiro could not be reached.
An FBI spokesman confirmed that the investigation continues into the violence surrounding California Fashion Industries.