Last October, I chronicled the four-decade career of Santa Monica defense lawyer Daniel (Danny) Brookman with “Barrister Brookman braves the waves.” I referred to Danny as a “renaissance man” because, well, he pretty much is. This married father of three surfs, jogs and boxes for exercise while his law practice deals with important issues of social justice. For example, in recent years, he’s devoted himself to keeping those with drug addictions from getting trapped in the revolving door of prison and into treatment programs.
However, Danny has had his share of celebrity clients. These include: actor Robert Downey Jr. and former Harvard professor, Dr. Timothy Leary, who, in the 1960s, coined the expression “Turn on, tune in and drop out,” in his advocacy of LSD. (In 1969 I was slipped LSD at a party in Vancouver, the harrowing details of which I’ll save for another column, that is, if I get the nerve.)
Given the seemingly endless mass shootings in America, Danny’s most recent case tangentially also involves a social issue: gun law reform. The details of this case are so bizarre they defy imagination. As seen on ABC-TV, Danny’s clients are willing to destroy an inheritance worth $5 million because a majority of the assets are in … guns! But first, please humor me as we take a very quick look at the Second Amendment.
Anybody who has ever read the entire Constitution marvels that every word is there for a reason. (I wish I could say that for my columns.) For example, the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
These days, no one acknowledges the first half, which starts with “A well regulated Militia.” Since the 2008 Supreme Court “Heller decision,” it’s as though the first 13 words of the amendment are invisible. OK, I’m stepping off the soapbox and back to the $5 million and strange back story.
In July 2015, Los Angeles police discovered the decomposing body of 60-year-old Jeffrey Lash deceased from natural causes in an SUV parked in Pacific Palisades. But soon, police uncovered Lash’s humongous stockpile of weapons that could supply a small army. Maybe two small two armies.
Inexplicably, Lash had nearly $250,000 in cash, more than a dozen survivalist-type vehicles, more than 1,500 guns and 6.5 tons of ammunition. (My one-word comment: “Oy!”) He left no will, so his only relatives, a group of first cousins, will likely inherit his fortune. Danny is the attorney for those heirs and says they are taking a stand against gun violence. “We don’t want these weapons out there and want them destroyed,” Brookman said. (A quote that might give Wayne LaPierre a stroke.)
Reportedly all the firearms were legally bought at the Martin B. Retting gun store in Culver City. A science superstar at Westchester High School, Lash was a loner who told neighbors he worked for the CIA. (He also claimed he had a parent from outer space and that he was a hybrid alien.)
Where did Lash get the money to purchase the weapons? Police said there is no record that he ever filed a tax return or held a job. (Evidently, his outer space parent was independently wealthy.)
As if things weren’t bizarre enough, Lash’s “fiancée” (of 17 years!) Catherine Nebron claims it was her bankroll that paid for the guns. She says Lash brain-washed her, “reducing her to a robot,” and conned her out of her small fortune.
Nebron’s attorney, Harland Braun, says they will fight the claim by Lash’s relatives in an upcoming court hearing, so stay tuned. Nebron is demanding the magistrate who signed the initial search warrant turn over the property to her as the rightful owner.
According to the L.A. Times, Lash told neighbors his name was “Bob Smith” (not exactly creative) and that he worked for the CIA. (Though to others he said FBI.) He alluded to covert missions and that he had helped thwart numerous attacks on the U.S. since 9/11.
Lash’s former apartment manager told the Palisadian Post, “He always dressed in black and acted paranoid, checking out rooms before he entered.” For a quick video summary, click here.
Given Lash’s emotional instability and an arsenal fit for a small war, we on the Westside are incredibly lucky we didn’t have a giant Orlando right in our backyard. Insisting the weapons be destroyed, Lash’s courageous cousins are sticking to their guns about not sticking to their guns, if you get my drift. (Sorry about that groaner, but at least I saved it until the very end.)