Dr. Larry C. Ford
The day was less than ordinary for Biofem Pharmaceuticals CEO James Patrick Riley, on February 28, 2000. He had left from his home in Newport Beach, Calif., and arrived at the parking area of the Irvine Spectrum office complex shortly before 10 a. m. Riley parked his car and walked toward the Biofem office. Before he reached the entrance to the building, a masked stranger in a black hood approached Riley, pointed a gun to his face and fired. The bullet ripped through Rileys cheek, gashed his cheekbone, exited above his lip and ricocheted into the window of a nearby bank.
Witnesses who heard the shot turned to see the assailant running from the scene. The wounded 58-year-old executive immediately used his cell phone to call his business partner, Dr. Larry C. Ford, for assistance. Ford, 49, was in the building during the shooting and hurried out to help his colleague.
The assailant, who fled the scene, was seen diving into an approaching vans open sliding door before it sped away. Fortunately, the manager of a nearby bank saw the license plate of the fleeing van. The police traced the van and found it the same day at a Los Angeles auto shop, awaiting a paint job.
Dino DSaachs, a 56-year-old Altadena businessman and a longtime friend and tax consultant of Ford, Rileys business partner, was the owner of the van. Twelve hours after Rileys shooting, police arrested DSaachs for allegedly driving the getaway vehicle. However, the identity of the gunman remained unknown. DSaachs claimed to have had nothing to do with the shooting, although he did admit to being in the area at the time of the crime. But police suspected it was more than a coincidence that connected Ford to the two men.
Ford and DSaachs had spoken on the phone on the morning of the shooting, investigators discovered. When questioned about the phone call, Ford said that DSaachs was only calling about a prescription. Shortly following the arrest of DSaachs, Ford became one of the main suspects in the attempted murder of his partner.
The Irvine World News reported on March 1, 2001, that Ford called Riley during his recuperation in the hospital to assure Riley that he knew nothing about the shooting. Ford also tried to persuade Riley that the phone call made to DSaachs on the morning of the shooting was also unrelated.
The police were suspicious of Fords explanation about the phone call and believed that money was the primary motive behind the alleged conspiracy, but they quickly discovered that the case would not be so clear cut. In fact, the investigation would take many unexpected twists and turns over the months to follow.