Alexis Ahmad Goodarzinia, the murdered maitre d' hotel of a popular Capitol Hill restaurant, was depicted yesterday by homicide investigators and associates as a professional gambler who carried huge amounts of cash and frequently placed bets and procured women for senators and congresmen he met through his job.
Friends of Gooarzinia, whose body was found early Thursday morning inside his Porsche with two gunshot wounds in his head, said he would bet on almost anything, particularly sporting events. He had hiw own bookie and often bet with some members of Congress and other customers who dined at The Rotunda restaurant where he worked, according to these accounts.
Police and associates said yesterday that Goodarzinia, 36, who had worked at the Rotunda for more than 10 years and earned more than $500 a week in salary and tips, placed bets for other people. He was not, however, a bookie, they said.
Goodarzinia owned a 1968 Porsche and a customized Aston-Martin. He had invested in another restaurant and had managed to save about $50,000 so that he could open a restaurant of his own in Georgetown. He also owned a condominium at 4543 MacArthur Blvd. NW, and the car with his body inside was parked in front of that building.
But Goodarzinia's gambling activities caused him some problems at work and were a source of personal discomfort to him when confronted with the teachings of the Islamic faith he tried to follow.
Al Prati, co-owner of the Rotunda, said he fired the maitre d' for a three-month period about nine months ago because "I didn't like all this crap on the telephone . . . someone would call him about games. It was getting awfully involved." He later rehired Goodzardinia when the maitre d' agreed to curtail his gambling activities on the job.
"He (Goodarzinia) was always looking for a quick deal, he enpoyed making money for the sake of it," Prati said. Prati also recalled that Goodarzinia had invested in the stockmarket but never talk about the money he lost when the market turned bad a few years ago.
A naturalized American who came to the United States from Iran in the late 1950s, Goodarzinia was described as being friendly and outgoing but somewhat secretive about his personal life. Once married briefly, he dated and knew many attractive women.
"They were good-looking girls - he didn't mess around," said Adolph Spagnoli, the Rotunda's bartender. "They came in here, models, Capitol Hill girls, airline stewardesses, government girls, nice girls all of them - clean cut."
A close associate of Goodarzinia said yesterday, however, that some of the women he knew were call girls whom Goodarzinia often introduced to the businessmen, senators and congressmen he had gotten to know well as a maitre d'.
Despite emphatic denials from Prati, several Capitol Hill sources said yesterday that it was commonly believed that Goodarzinia arranged sexual liaisons for some members of Congress and their top aides.
An administrative assistant to a House member said he once called Goodarzinia at the Rotunda one night and asked him to arrange "a date" with a $100 prostitute the aide had met at the restaurant's bar.
"It's my policy not to have them (prostitutes) here," said Prati, who conceded there "may have been an isolated incident but it's not the policy of this place. We chase them out if they come in."
Goodarzinia's slaying has rekindled talk of possible gambling and illicit sexual activity on Capital Hill that could involved prominent legislators, key aides, lobbyists and other Hill habitues.
Such activity first surfaced publicly when Elizabeth Ray revealed she had been placed on the government payroll only because she was former Rep. Wayne Hays' mistress.
Earlier this week federal law enforcement officials disclosed they had recently observed a bookie operating near the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building.
The existence of the numbers and horse-race becting operation was reported in The Washington Post Wednesday, the day before Goodarzinia was found dead.
Police and the D.C. medical examiner have said Goodarzinia's slaying appeared to be a "professional killing," He was shot twice in the left side of his head.
Although Goodarzinia had the gambling habits and lifestyle of a winning professional, he once withered under the stern rebuke of a Moslem religious adviser he visited.
"When I told him that what he was doing was against Islamic law, he just put his head down and seemed very ashamed," said Mohammad Javad Farzaneh, a Moslem scholar and spiritual adviser at the Imperial Embassy of Iran here.
"I told him to give up his bad habit, and he promised me he'd be a good Moslem," said Farzaneh, who recalled that Goodarzinia had accompanied two other Iranian friends on a visit three years ago to a Moslem center in Bethesda.
"The friends first told me about his gambling . . . he did n't want me to know," Farzaneh said. "I gave him some passages to read from the holy book, the Koran."
Police have virtually ruled out robbery as a motive for the slaying. They said Goodarzinia had cash in his wallet when his body was found.
Goodarzinia, according to friends and associates, often befriended dissident Iranian students here who oppose the governmental regime of the shah. He was known to have provided them with money and was an important contact for them in finding employment. Police are looking into these activities to see if they had anything to do with Goodarzinia's death.
Police are also investigating the circumstances of a legal dispute between Goodarzinia and the owner of a Collage Park restaurant, The Bastille.
A lawyer for the slain maitre d' said Goodarzinia purchased the restaurant about two years ago and shortly sold it to someone else. Goodarzinia had recently gone to court in an effort to collect $15,000 he said was owed him for his share in the business, the lawyer said.
Farzaneh yesterday remembered Goodarzinia as "a wonderful, good-hearted person," despite his gambling problems.
Goodarzinia "loved Muhammad Ali," according to Farzaneh. He bet all his money when Ali was fighting, and he usually won."
Farzaneh thought of Goodarzinia as "a wealthy man. His income was very good, and he got good tips." When he bought his condominium, Farzaneh said Goodarzinia borrowed some money from the bank.
"He always had lots of cash, but he was afraid that if he paid for it outright people would get suspicious about where he got all the money . . . his tips were never taxed."
Prati, the Rotunda co-owner, described Goodarzinia yesterday as a loyal employee who was dependable. He did not drink, the restaurant owner said, and he didn't spend much money on himself. Both his cars, Prati noted, were about 10 years old.
"He'd spend most of the day here," he said. "He was busy with lunch, then he'd take a break and come back at 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. and stay until 2 a.m."
Goodarzinia, according to Prati, liked to "wear loud clothes." Once he showed up to work in a maroon and peagreen coat and Pratis said he made him change into a tuxedo.
"I know he gambled," Prati said. "He told me he was for this team or that team, and he knew the odds and the point spreads."
The night Goodarzinia was killed, Prati recalled, "I saw him an hour before he left and he talked about the lunch schedule the next day. He did not seem concerned - I saw no sign of worry or consternation. I don't think he had any idea of what was going to happen to him."
Friends of Goodarzinia said yesterday that funeral arrangements were not yet complete because they were still waiting to hear from his father in Tehran about what he wanted done for his son.