A search through the fast-paced life of Alexis Goodarzi, the murdered maitre d' of Capitol Hill's Rotunda restaurant,, opens doors on a view of Washington usually only hinted about - a world of sex and politics, liquor and go-go joints, gambling and drugs, intrigue and violence.
Goodarzi, a 36-year-old native of Iran liked to brag about the politicans he knew personally, the expensive cars he owned, the striking women he dated. He cultivated an image to fit the nickname "Prince" that he had emblazoned in Persian - "PAPSHA" - on his personalized D.C. license tags.
But, long before he was found shot to death in his orange Porsche outside his MacArthur Boulevard condomiinium apartment building on May 12, Goodarzi also was closely in touch with a shady side of Washington.
Goodarzi gambled frequently and heavily. He arranged "dates" for members of Congress and their aides. He associated closely with some men under investigation by local and federal authorities for suspected heavy trading in hard drugs.
These contacts led Goodarzi to carry a .38-caliber revolver and to tape conversations with at least one business partner he distrusted. At various times over the years, Goodarzi's name turned up in law enforcement investigators' files.He also rented several safe deposit boxes that have become objects of intense scrutiny by lawmen investigating his murder.
Goodarzi dated scores of women of all backgrounds and asked some of them if they were interested in attending Iranian embassy parties or in going out for "good times and sex," with senators and congressmen who frequented the Rotunds restaurant. He kept lists of these women and received large tips from some Rotunda customers for whom he arranged "dates."
According to those who knew him, Goodarzi's sexual liaisons occasionally became troublesome. A few years ago, for instance, he told several friends that he had found tacked on his apartment door a threatening note from a congressman who was jealous of his attentios to the lawmaker's girlfriend.
A habitual gambler, Goodarzi regularly bet $20 to $100 each on a multitude of sporting events. He dealt with several professional bookies and occasionally placed bets for his customers at the Rotunda, according to several sources.
Homicide investigators doubt, however, that Goodarzi was murdered over gambling debts because he apparently had plenty of ready cash and was current on his bets. His body was found with several hundred dollars in his pockets and he had tens of thousands of dollars deposited in several local banks, according to several sources.
Outside the Rotunda restaurant, Goodarzi was involved, occasionally as a business associate, with two groups of Iranians living and doing business here.
One group has bought, sold and sometimes feuded over a number of bars, restaurants and go-go clubs in the Washington area. The other, smaller clique includes men who have been under active investigation for suspected dealing in heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs.
Reporters for The Washington Post have pieced together this still partial picture of Goodarzi and the world he frequented from interviews with many of his business associates and acquaintances, women he dated, Rotunda customers who knew him well and local and federal law enforcement officers, and research of numerous civil and criminal court records and liquor license files.
Local and federal investigators probing Goodarzi's murder are so delurged with leads and links to other inquiries that they have had difficulty focusing on particular suspects. "Frankly, we're baffled," one source said.
The authorities are convinced, however, that Goodarzi was murdered by a professional. A street robbery has been ruled out because of the money found on his body when it was discovered slumped behind the wheel of his sports car at about 2 a.m. May 12.
Goodarzi was killed by three carefully-spaced 32 caliber bullets fired into the left side of his head, apparently at close range from a pistol equipped with a silencer. The murder has been described as the first mob-style killing in Washington in years.
Investigators believe Goodarzi stopped to visit a known organized crime figure on his way home to his condominium apartment at 4545 MacArthur Blvd, after closing the Rotunda the night he was killed.
Two women were waiting for Goodarzi that night. The first was a woman whom he had asked out repeatedly before she finally agreed to meet him at Clyde's in Georgetown after the Rotunda closed. She says she never saw him that night, however.
The other is a young Vietnamese woman who had known Goodarzi for about a year and was waiting for him at his apartment, although she denies having a key to get in. She recalls hearing Goodarzi arguing loudly outside the apartment but says she fell asleep, until she was awakened by police after the discovery of the body.
Friends and acquaintances from the Rotunda expressed shock and puzzlement about Goodarzi's death. "He was very personable, friendly, a good maitre'd," said one Capitol Hill lobbyist who is a regular customer. "It's hard to think of him having enemies.
Until the past few years, there seemed to be little in Goodarzi's background to provoke a contract killing. He was born in Tehran in 1940 and came to the U.S. in 1960.
For a few years he bounced around a number of schools and jobs and worked briefly at The Washington Post stuffing inserts in newspapers.
There has been some confusion about the proper spelling of Goodarzi's name because he used several different versions in this country over the years. When he first came through Customs in New York he listed his parents name as Goodarzi-Nia. When he filed for citizenship he said he wanted his name changed to Goodarzian. But more recently, on legal papers and on business cards he used Goodarzi.
In 1962, Goodarzi got a job in the dining room at the Congressional County club. A few years later, he married Judith Ann Hill in Montgomery County, but was divorced soon after.
In 1966 he worked briefly at the Shoreham Hotel as an assistant maitre d' and then moved to the Rotunda in early 1967. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1972. His papers were witnessed by two acquaintances from the Rotunda, a waiter and an aide to Rep. Daniel Flood (D-Pa.).
A girlfriend who dated Goodarzi for six months during 1973 recalls that "he was big talker, always trying to impress me with the important people he knew. He wanted very much to be liked by the politicians who came in the Rotunda."
Another close acquaintance remembers that Goodarzi used to boast that he could "get things" fixed by the judges and members of Congress he knew.
For years, the Rotunda was regularly frequented by a number of senators, congressmen and lobbyists, as well as local policemen and at least one local judge. The D.C. police intelligence until held a Christmas party there a few years ago.
In more recent years, several regular customers claim business had been slumping at the Rotunda at night, when congressmen, lobbyists and women had regularly met over drinks and dinner in the past.
"It's all been since Watergate," one lobbyist said. "There's still a big lunch crowd, but people don't come in as much for dinner, I guess because they don't want to be seen with us in public."
In spite of this, Goodarzi's personal fortunes seemed to prosper over the same period. A girlfriend of three years ago remembers that he talked about the stock market and football betting but never seemed to have much cash. But by 1975 he was letting friends know that he was looking for a restaurant of his own to invest in with cash.
Local restaurant broker Sol Alex Stern said "I knew Alexis as a client. He was looking around for restaurants but never bought one. He said he and clients and was looking for a bargain . . . We have buyers and lookers. He was a looker."
Stern said that Goodarzi always claimed he knew people who would back him financially. "But he never said who . . . I regarded that boy as nothing but hot air."
During that year though, Goodarzi did buy into two business ventures with fellow Iranians. For a short time in mid-1975, Goodarzi owned one-third of the Bastille, a crowded, honky-tonk bar near the University of Maryland campus on Route 1 in College Park.
He later agreed to sell his interest in the Bastille for $15,000 to another Iranian, Tommy Motlagh and then sued Motlagh when the checks he received in payment bounced.
Another one-time investor in the Bastille, Dehnad (Danny) Taiedi, also Iranian, is listed as the beneficiary on Goodarzi's life insurance policy. Taiedi also has held stock in several other Washington area bars.
During the same period, Goodarzi opened a flower and plant shop called The Sweet Chalet at 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE with Nima Partow, the former bartender at another Iranian-owned nightclub.
A former waiter at the Rotunda said he remembers Goodarzi saying he hoped to make the location a wine and cheese shop featuring imported caviar from his native Iran. But there seemed to have been some problem with the necessary licenses and the idea was dropped.
Attorney Louis N. Nichols, who handled the incorporation papers for the shop, said the two Iranian partners had a falling out and Goodarzi left the venture.
Shortly after the partnership broke up in 1975, federal drug investigators approached Goodarzi to ask about intelligence reports that Partow had been importing heroin from Mexico.
Partow abruptly left the country earlier this year, after telling friends he had made a great deal of money in his plant shop. This would no doubt have surprised creditors such as a Leesburg, Va. firm that sued the shop after a check totaling $1,000 bounced.
Goodarzi was also questioned by narcotics investigators about two other local Iranian businessmen, including one who was a close friend of Goodarzi.
One of those men, Ahmad (Eddie) Mizani, who runs a rug store here and was once Goodarzi's roommate, acknowledges that he has been under investigation but vigorously denies he has even been involved in narcotics traffic.
Mizani, who said his brother is now in prison on a narcotics conviction, said he believes his telephone has been tapped by investigators who, he said, have been unable to come up with any evidence against him.
The other man, Mohammed Hossein (John) Naimi, was, according to attorney Nichols, one of the first Iranians to become involved in buying and selling local bars and restaurants.
Last October, Naimi was indicted on charges of stealing $625,000 from Citibank of New York by writing and cashing checks against a supposed $2.3 million in deposits that turned out be worthless. The case is still awaiting trial.
While his outside business activities seemed to revolve around his efforts to break into a circle of Iranian bar owners here, Goodarzi's preoccupation at the time of his death was still the Rotunda.
He had arguments with the Rotunda's owners, brothers Al and Henry Prati, and been fired for short periods of time, only to be taken back. He told friends he felt there was no room to advance his career at the Capitol Hill restaurant and he applied for jobs as maitre d' at the 1789 restaurant in Georgetown and the new Hyatt Regency across Capitol Hill.
But the Rotunda still was his base of operations. It was here that he could greet politicians by first name and flirt with attractive women who were attracted by the same reflected power.
Goodarzi, the self-appointed "Prince" of Capitol Hill appears to have approached almost every good-looking woman who entered his domain.
One woman who rejected his attentions after a date last year said he called later to explain that he thought she was "fast" because she had come in with some lobbyists he knew. "He said part of what he did at the Rotunda was to fix people up with dates," she remembered.
She said he called her several times more to ask for dates, once suggesting that she come over and take a champagne bubble bath with him.
Another woman who dated Goodarzi for four months last fall said he asked her on their first date if she or her girlfriend were interested in meeting and going out with senators and congressmen. She said he told her that he arranged introductions and wanted it understood that the girls should be ready for "good times and sex."
He wanted classy girls for his customers, she said, "not hookers."
Grateful Rotunda customers tipped him lavishly at times for the introductions and Goodarzi kept a list of available women, the girlfriend said.
"Alexis rarely did anything for anyone unless that person was important, she added. "He was a big name dropper. He liked the glitter."
On at least one occasion, Goodarzi apparently got in trouble because of his attraction to women. A year or so ago, he told friends he got a threatening note from a married member of Congress who thought Goodarzi was interested in his girlfriend.
Goodarzi expressed some concern, but insisted to acquaintances that the problem was a case of mistaken identity. The former congressman, who is now an attorney here in Washington, denies that he ever made such a threat or even knew Goodarzi, contrary to what several of Goodarzi's friends say.
There has been some confusions about the proper spelling of Goodarzi name because he used several different versions in this country over the years. When he first came through Customs in New York he listed his parents name as Goodarzi-Nia. When he filed for citizenship he said he wanted his name changed to Goodarzian. But more recently, on legal papers and on business cards he used Goodarzi.
Despite the number of trails investigators must follow as they sift through the remains of Alexis Goodarzi's life, there are hopeful signs. The dead man kept many personal records, in addition to what reposes in his safe deposit boxes.
Many persons in addition to the police are interested in what Goodarzi left behind and what he knew of their roles in the seamier side of Washington.