By GLENN PUIT , REVIEW-JOURNAL
Until now, Deen Cassim has kept quiet.
But this week, the informant in the Craig Titus murder case spoke publicly for the first time and said he believes his undercover work with Las Vegas police last year deterred the murders of three witnesses prepared to testify against the national bodybuilder.
If I acted any different, today there would be three dead witnesses," Cassim said from London. "I couldn't allow three innocent people to possibly get killed."
Titus, 42, is a former competitor in the Mr. Olympia competition. He and his fitness champion wife, Kelly Ryan, 34, are charged with killing acquaintance Melissa James in December 2005 in Las Vegas.
After the couple's arrest on murder charges, an acquaintance of Titus, Nelson Brady Jr., was charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill three people in Titus' trial, which is scheduled for April.
Titus and Brady deny that they were planning to try to kill anyone, and Titus has not been charged in connection with the alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Cassim said Titus was involved in the plan. "Craig knew exactly what was what ... (he) knew exactly what was going on," Cassim said.
When told of Cassim's comments, Titus' attorney, Marc Saggese, called Cassim a "professional worm" and liar and accused Cassim of making up the murder-for-hire allegations to get himself out of a lengthy stint in prison for robbery.
"Everyone has been played the fool in this matter except for Deen Cassim," Saggese said. "The only winner in this is Cassim, who tricked authorities into letting him out of jail."
Cassim was arrested in Las Vegas in 2004 on charges of attempting to rob champion poker player Greg "the Fossilman" Raymer with another man at the Bellagio.
Cassim said that he was a regular, high-stakes gambler at the Bellagio and that he did not rob Raymer.
But Cassim was convicted of attempted robbery. He was appealing the conviction and was still housed at the detention center when he alleges Brady solicited him.
Cassim had been sentenced to three to 12 years in prison. But after his work as an informant, he was resentenced to probation, and Cassim said he now lives in London.
Cassim said Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, who declined to comment for this story, did not want to resentence him after his cooperation with police, but Cassim's attorney convinced Daskas that Cassim's life would be in danger in prison once word of his informant status became public.
"I would have been killed in jail or an attempt on my life would have been made," Cassim said.
Cassim said he is "on vacation" in London and could return to the United States if his testimony is needed.
But Brady's attorney, Erick Ferran, questioned how Cassim could be in London while on probation
"It is extremely interesting he would be allowed to leave the country," Ferran said. "The only way I can see that happening is if he'd been deported. If Mr. Cassim is unavailable for trial, they'll run into substantial difficulties for making their case."
Cassim, in an interview conducted by e-mail and phone, said he was housed at the Clark County Detention Center last year when Brady approached him.
"He said he was given my name by another friend because he was looking for somebody to do a job that required possible witness intimidation and more if needed," Cassim said.
He said the request from Brady prompted police to use a ruse in which Cassim negotiated the hiring of a hit man named "Fred," and police recorded more than 100 phone calls between Brady, Cassim, Titus and others.
"I had to be very convincing on the phone as I was acting the part of a middleman in a very complex case that involved killing three people and $50,000," Cassim said.
Brady did not show for three separate meetings with an undercover officer, and Brady's attorneys have said Cassim threatened Brady when he failed to show.
Cassim said he did not threaten Brady but did act tough with him at times.
"There was no entrapment here at all, just a business deal being made that supposedly involved me making $50,000," Cassim said.