Death Sentences

Page 9 of 9

In some cases, Paladin's marketing is even too strong for the mercenaries at Soldier oR>f Fortune. For instance, though Paladin advertises numerous wares in the magazine, Soldier of Fortune refuses to run ads for Hit Man. "Let's just say that Mr. Brown is not really comfortable with those types of ads," says Alex McColl, the magazine's director of special projects.

Brown's aversion to ads touting the services of professional killers may well trace back to his own classifieds section. Unlike the ad cited in the case Sanford helped the magazine win, there was nothing ambiguous about a classified notice purchased in 1985 by Richard "Doc" Savage. The former Army courier, cop and security guard offered himself as a "gun for hire" and was soon swamped with offers. "Nearly everybody wanted somebody killed," Savage was later quoted as saying. "They wanted me to kill their wives, mothers, fathers and girlfriends."

Savage established a gang to cope with the workload. Among other things, he and his cohorts firebombed a car, blew up a poultry company, killed a Florida woman and, on August 26, 1985, murdered Atlanta businessman Richard Braun.

Braun's sons, Michael and Ian, filed suit against Soldier of Fortune in March 1988, claiming that the ad was "a clear solicitation for criminal activity." The court eventually awarded them $4.37 million in damages, though the Brauns probably received a great deal less than that in the end. (Brown settled with the Brauns for a confidential sum, one that allowed the magazine to keep operating.)

Siegel's team studied the Braun case closely when deciding whether or not to take on Paladin. What the attorneys decided, says Siegel, was that the case against Paladin is "infinitely stronger."

Kelley has yet to file an answer to Siegel's December complaint, and attorneys for both sides have no idea when they might meet in court. But that might not be bad news for Paladin. Lund told the New York Times last month that publicity over the book and the suit have actually increased his mail-order sales.

Indeed, sales of Hit Man have been brisk at BoulderR>'s Paladin Arms gun shop (which is not connected to the publishing company). "I don't ever remember selling one until the lawsuit," says clerk Ron Cole. "But we had to reorder last week. We sold out the first batch.

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Karen Bowers