When William Leasure was arrested in 1991, it sent shockwaves through the Los Angeles Police Department. Theories abounded that the traffic cop must have taken an undercover assignment. There was no way he had committed the crimes that he was accused of.
William married Betsy Mogul in 1974. They were a law enforcement power couple; Betsy was a senior prosecutor. When she ran for LA City Attorney, her husband supported her completely.
While she lost the election, her colleagues encouraged her to continue as a prosecutor and run again in another election. They pointed to her work and her husband’s reputation as a decent cop as the reason she should consider running again.
Most people knew William as a good cop. He hesitated to hand out tickets, preferring instead to give the person a stern talking to. There were no complaints about him abusing his power as an officer.
He seemed content to let Betsy shine. While she worked hard to get promoted and take on extra responsibilities, William did no such thing. For his entire 17 year career, he stayed at Officer II, a step above rookie.
Every once in a while, the unassuming man would surprise his coworkers. One night, he agreed to go out for cocktails with the guys. After a couple of beers, William began boasting about extramarital affairs he was having. The other men rolled their eyes, not believing the story.
Their disbelief worked to his advantage while detectives began to unwind the criminal case against him.
Arrested By Accident
On May 29, 1986, William took a yacht out for a spin. He had no idea that LAPD detectives were working on finding a thief who stole and sold yachts. They received a tip that the boat called La Vita was part of the ring.
Everyone was surprised when William was on the boat.
He proclaimed his innocence. During questioning, William told investigators that he was merely a crew member. His buddy, Robert Kuns, has asked him to help for the day. He also added that he and his wife made decent money, and he didn’t need to deal in stolen goods.
His colleagues believed him for a while.
But the third crew member blew his story sky-high. William stated he boarded the yacht in Long Beach. However, the third guy involved in the bust said that everyone had boarded in San Diego. The location that La Vita had been stolen from.
A handgun registered to the traffic cop sealed his fate. Rather than using his time on the force to be released quickly, they locked him up and sent their yacht ring investigation into a new direction.
They wanted to prove that William Leasure was the mastermind behind it.
The two cops bought the boat from Kuns. A quick search of records helped them determine that his yacht was co-owned by a fellow officer. It had been reported stolen.
Authorities searched William and Betsy’s house. In the garage, they found cars that were in various parts of being rebuilt. They also found items that had been taken from the stolen yachts.
The backyard had a World War II training plane. There were also several Corvettes, which appeared to be the traffic cop’s pride and joy.
How could he afford these things?
Walls Closing In
The search also produced a Thunderbird that had been reported stolen by William’s partner, Robert Gerard. After the discovery, Robert was charged and convicted of insurance fraud. The LAPD fired him.
But Robert was not the fish they wanted. It was decided they needed to bring William Leasure down.
Possession of stolen property charges were brought against him and Kuns. There was hope that the criminal would turn over on the cop, but that did not happen.
Officers searched William’s house again. They found a room full of guns. It seemed odd that a man who never fired a shot on the job would have enough to fill a room. There was also a notebook that led them to Dennis France.
Passages in the notebook seemed to detail yacht deals between William, Dennis, and Kuns. Officers decided it was their best chance to see if their fellow cop was dirty or not.
While the notebook would not have been enough to arrest Dennis, they decided to scare him into thinking they could. But he proved to be a shrewd negotiator and demanded immunity before he would answer their question.
Once immunity was granted, Dennis began to talk. And the officers realized what a horrible mistake they’d made.
The Secret Life Exposed
Once Dennis began talking, they listened raptly. The tale he told them changed their perspectives of William and helped to fuel a case against him. Not only had everyone around the traffic cop underestimated what he was capable of, but his crimes were much worse than what they initially thought.
William ordered him to kill Ann Smith, a friend’s wife. The friend was about to finalize his divorce from Ann before being killed in her mother’s beauty parlor.
Their next target was Tony de Los Reyes, William’s friend’s husband. No motive was given this time, though it is believed the victim had cheated on his wife. William ordered Dennis to shoot him in the crowded bar that he was in. However, Tony left and forced them to change the plan to shooting him in the middle of traffic before disappearing.
According to Dennis’s official statement, William was the getaway driver.
Police tried to disprove the story. They pushed back on details about the murders to see if they could get him to change his story. He didn’t. Instead, he led them to the scenes of the crime.
The truth began to sink in; William Leasure was a criminal mastermind.
Bringing Down The Kingpin
William Leasure stayed in jail while the charges against him were formalized. He was kept away from other inmates on a special floor reserved for celebrities and other corrupt cops.
At his trial, prosecutors painted the former officer as leading a double life. To the public, he was a dutiful husband and cop, but behind the scenes, he ran a criminal organization that took the lives of two innocent people. The testimony of Dennis France was the centerpiece of their case.
Defense attorneys argued that the star witness was a confessed criminal. Their client had befriended him. Dennis, in turn, betrayed the former cop. Worse, the people he worked side by side with for 17 years had set him up to take a fall.
The jury was hung. 10–2 voted in favor of convicting, but they needed a unanimous consensus.
William and prosecutors agreed to a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and they asked the judge only to sentence him to 15 years in prison. The Judge sentenced him to two life sentences with a minimum of 15 years.
Betsy Mogul avoided the same fate as her husband. She had been tried on several counts, including lying to police and obstruction of justice. However, she was acquitted on all counts.
While it is believed she knew about her husband’s double life, nobody could ever prove it.
After multiple attempts to be paroled, it has been reported that William was granted parole in August 2021. However, he is still in prison as of press time.