I found this blurb here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/93742731/Inside-the-LC-Dave-McGowa...
. Not sure if he's the man you're seeking, but the details line up pretty well.
"Vito Paulekas, whose full name is said to have been Vitautus Alphonsus Paulekas. Born the son of a Lithuanian sausage-maker circa 1912, Vito hailed from Lowell, Massachusetts. From a young age, he developed a habit of running afoul of the law. In 1938, he was convicted of armed robbery and handed a 25-year sentence. 1942, however, just four years later, he had been released into the custody, so to speak, of the US Merchant Marine. 1946, Vito arrived in Los Angeles; by the early 1960s, Vito was ensconced in an unassuming building at the corner of Laurel Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, just below the mouth of Laurel Canyon (and very near Jay Sebring’s hair salon)."
In addition, this is a great resource for anything US Merchant Marine: http://www.usmm.org/