Names of others surface as possible killers
New corroborating evidence to be presented in re-trial
of Binion case
after the original verdict was overturned by the Nevada
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 9, 2004
"They wanted to take care of Ted. I listened. That little Binion
kid came to (name of city) and met with me and my buddies. (Name withheld)
wanted us to steal some of Ted's hidden cash. The little Binion was behind
this. We decided that we did not like either (name withheld) or (Benny)
Binion and we were going to hurt them and take their watches and cash."
LAS VEGAS - On Friday August 25, 2000, Stratosphere Tower developer
Bob Stupak was dining with his 23-year-old daughter Summer at Piero's restaurant
in Las Vegas. Three men attacked the duo at their table after loudly claiming
Stupak had stolen Horseshoe Casino chips.
The police report stated: "Suspect # 4 grabbed Mr. Stupak by his right
arm, stating 'I want to talk to you outside.' At that time suspects # 3
and # 8, using both hands slapped Mr. Stupak repeatedly on the face and
head, while suspect # 4 continued to pull Mr. Stupak outside the booth."
Summer Stupak, who attempted to stop the beating of her 58-year-old
father, narrowly missed being hit by a chair swung at her by one of the
assailants. She stated in the report: "The owner of Piero's did nothing
to intervene or stop this assault."
Summer Stupak's bruises
One of the assailants was Benny Behnen, 23, the grandson of Horseshoe
founder Benny Binion and the son of Becky and Nick Behnen, the most recent
operators of the Horseshoe.
Another assailant was Grover Chance LeSeuer who in 1997 attracted police
attention when he, Benny Behnen, and two other individuals were linked
to a drive-by shooting outside Ted Binion's Palomino Lane home, the same
house in which Binion was found dead a year later. At the time, the District
Attorney dropped the case and the alleged shooters were not prosecuted.
Minutes before the assault on the Stupaks, Chance LeSeuer was observed
dining with Nick, Becky, and Benny Behnen in another part of the restaurant.
The reason for the ongoing relationship between the Behnens and a boy who
allegedly participated in a drive-by shooting outside Ted Binion's home
The third Piero's assailant was Russell
R.D. Matthews, 80.
A female restaurant employee who witnessed the beating stated in the
police report: "An older man grabbed Mr. Stupak by the arm, while the other
subjects repeatedly slapped Mr. Stupak. Mr. Stupak's daughter and (another
person) separated the parties." The employee was reportedly fired after
making the statement.
Matthews was described in an FBI report as a "burglar, armed robber,
narcotics pusher, and murderer." After the assault, Becky Behnen gave this
opinion of Matthews to a reporter: "He was at the hospital when I was born
and was at the hospital when my children were born. He's a war hero who
served in World War II."
After police left, Benny Behnen reportedly returned to Piero's and remained
there socializing with restaurant owner Freddy Glusman until after midnight.
The assailants were not arrested even though both Stupaks filed charges.
The following day Glusman was quoted
in the Las Vegas Review Journal: "I didn't see anything, I was in
the other room. Benny didn't have anything to do with it. He wasn't even
in the goddamn room. He was sitting with Becky in the other room." Glusman
called the incident a "nonevent", and said it reminded him of the "Old
Becky Behnen was quoted
in the Las Vegas SUN: "Everyone in the room was laughing, so it
couldn't have been anything serious."
Former Clark County DA Stewart Bell refused to prosecute Benny Behnen
or Chance LeSeuer in the Piero's incident. Only Matthews was charged. He
no contest to misdemeanor battery and agreed to pay a $1,000 fine. Bell
went on to be elected District Court Judge, and his successor David Roger
prosecuted Sandra Murphy and Richard Tabish, the originally accused killers
of Ted Binion.
The rift between Ted Binion and his sister's family was legendary. In
1998, Binion, according to a witness, ordered Becky's husband Nick Behnen,
Benny, and Chance LeSeuer off his property at gunpoint. Later that day,
Nick Behnen called Ted's house and made threatening remarks
on his answering machine.
High stakes gambler Stupak was the best friend of former Horseshoe owners
Jack and Ted Binion and had won millions of dollars playing poker at the
Horseshoe. Stupak and a number of other high rollers stopped gambling at
the Horseshoe following the hostile takeover of the club by the Behnens.
Stupak became embroiled in the Binion/Behnen family war when in November
1998, following Ted's death, Stupak tried to cash $250,000 worth of $5,000
"chocolate" chips. Stupak also attempted to retrieve two safe deposit boxes
full of cash he had on deposit in the Horseshoe cage. The Behnens refused
to return the cash which amounted to over $200,000, or cash the chips.
According to police reports, Benny Behnen then physically threw Stupak
out of the building resulting in Stupak filing the initial assault and
battery charges against him. The DA refused to press charges against young
Bob Stupak (left) trying to cash
(Photo by Rolando Larraz)
Then Bob Stupak ask me to get
involved. The result made national news.
Within days, Gaming Control started a thorough investigation. The Behnens
returned Stupak's cash under protest, but defied state Gaming Control Board
orders to cash his chips until threatened with license revocation one year
In a related story several years following Binion's death, a falling
out of sorts apparently happened between the Behnens and Chance LeSeuer.
On September 22, 1998, Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division
Agent Paul J. Markling, Deputy Chief, stated in a
"Murphy indicated that she learned that Nick and Benny had kidnapped Chance...
and were holding him. My impression of this information was that (Chance
LeSeuer) was allegedly kidnapped in order to scare him and the other two."
In the same Control Board report, Nick Behnen is quoted in a telephone
telling LeSeuer: "Trust me. You're not going to throw down. You come to
rob me...Now you tell this guy this. You ever had this gun to you before?...Oh
you think this is funny. Cause this is how they look, this is how they
read out of the book see, this just like it happens, everybody just kind
of visits and then pretty soon -- pop."
On May 24, 2001, LeSueur, was found dead
of unknown causes in Mesa, Arizona. He was 24. Mesa police did not respond
to requests for information about his untimely death.
|DISCLAIMER: Following my report of the Piero's incident and subsequent
stories I authored about the death of Ted Binion, I became the recipient
of several pieces of unsolicited information including answering machine
tapes from Ted Binion's home and a number of confidential documents. I
of some of these documents December 15, 2003 on AmericanMafia.com. Because
this was the first time such information had been published, KLAS TV Channel
8 News in Las Vegas linked
to my story. The communications I received came from two sources who requested
anonymity under the Nevada Shield Law. I agreed to protect their identity.
However, I do not substantiate the accuracy or authenticity of these communications,
but because they involved persons mentioned in the Piero's story and in
recently released FBI files, I feel that information contained therein
may be of help to those preparing for the re-trial of Sandra Murphy and
Richard Tabish, hence I publish annotated versions of these communications
below. -- Steve Miller
COMMUNICATION # 1: Mr. Miller; First I will give you some of my background.
I am a member of a LCN (La Cosa Nostra) crew... They then brought up getting
Ted (Binion). (name withheld) had worked for him and knew about his money.
(name withheld), girlfriend also is friends with Sandy M. They all did
the grand jury thing. They wanted to take care of Ted. I listened. That
little Binion kid came to (name of city) and met with me and my buddies.
(Name withheld) wanted us to steal some of Ted's hidden cash. The little
Binion was behind this. We decided that we did not like either (name withheld)
or (Benny) Binion and we were going to hurt them and take their watches
and cash... Then Ted dies and they moved up the time table. It was not
the silver that Rick tried to dig up. I sent some of my Crip buddies to
Las Vegas to help steal the cash. It did not work out because of some other
law enforcement problems. I am saying this. I was at the (name of restaurant)
... with (names withheld). The FBI covered this. We talked of killing Herbie
(Blitzstein) and Binion. there were two different wires there. (names withheld).
Both guys were killed - Herbie and Binion - and the FBI had warning. I
am saying both of these guys could have been saved. I have done horrible
stuff in the past. I am not just one of these talkers. I have beaten, kidnapped,
extorted, shot, stabbed. I have been around and my record speaks for itself...
R.D.Matthews is a killer who still controls much of the Dallas sports gaming.
He was the first to see Jack Ruby. He also is very close to Chuck
Harrelson who killed Judge (John H.) Wood. I have letters from Chuck.
R.D. is still a God in the Dallas underworld and he is allowed a private
room in the old Horseshoe rooms. No gaming problems there??? I can go on.
I can tell you about Rick (Rizzolo) and Vinnie (Faraci) at the Crazy
Horse. This is a tidbit. Check out what I just gave you. You will find
I am right on.
COMMUNICATION # 2: Here are some more names; Outside (name of restaurant)
in (name of city). It was (names withheld). They brought up Teddy at this
meeting, two informants taped it (names withheld). We also discussed me
transferring to Las Vegas and it was part of (names of FBI stings). (FBI
Agent) Charlie Mauer was in charge.
COMMUNICATION # 3: Mr. Miller; I am glad it is all starting to come
out. The FBI knew about Benny Behnen before Ted was killed. They recorded
talks with (name withheld). They had recorded (name withheld) speaking
about it. They knew about trips to the desert to dig up Ted's money...
Russell (Matthews) is a bad seed. He is a major criminal. He goes way back
to Jack Ruby whom he was doing business with before he killed Lee H. Oswald.
He was also in the Hollis Green gang in Texas. When Charles Harrelson received
the money to kill Judge Wood, he was around. When Harrelson was caught
he had Russell's card in his wallet and he told police he was like a father
to him. I was not sure about Tabish or Murphy but I know the FBI has gone
a long way to cover their ass.
|Following the above communications, I received portions of the affidavit
of FBI Agent Gerald E. McIntosh. In it, several of the names I withheld
were mentioned along with events similar to those described by my first
Another confidential source sent the next three communications that
pose even more unanswered questions. -- SM
COMMUNICATION # 4: Becky Behnen admits in this *(RJ)
article she had Ted Binion's FBI file the year before he died, 1997.
At that point in time Ted Binion was under investigation for a possible
RICO action, Blitzstein case, etc. Did she file a Freedom of Information
form? How did she get the info. on a case that was currently under investigation?
Did she obtain this information under the table from (Agents) Mauer or
Plunkett, and leak that information to (LV SUN columnist) Jeff German
about Binion's drug use and ties to the Mob so the Gaming Commission would
pull his license? This resulted in Becky obtaining the Horseshoe.
Notice in this
article the police don't know who is behind the death threat? Was the
FBI withholding Benny Behnen's name on purpose? Wasn't 1997, the year of
the drive-by shooting? Yet on numerous occasions the FBI agents went into
the information was "too sensitive," or the case was "under investigation,"
and they couldn't release the information to the defense.
|* Ted Binion's sister, Becky Behnen, said
Ted obtained his FBI file about a year before he died and was amazed to
discover some of the crimes that had been attributed to him... But jurors
did not hear of the allegations contained within the FBI documents released
under the Freedom of Information Act. Had they possessed these documents,
defense attorneys would have had to convince District Judge Joseph Bonaventure
that they were relevant to the murder trial. -- Las Vegas Review Journal,
COMMUNICATION # 5: So now we have come back to the ($5,000) chocolate
chips that Rick (Tabish) told Becky (Behnen) in Dec 98 that Ted had taken
out of the Horseshoe with plans to have someone turn them in -- she
wouldn't have enough money in the cage to cover them -- and Gaming would
shut her down. (FBI Agent) Plunkett knew this in 99, but just let it go
until Rick (Tabish) mentioned it after the trial. Why is the FBI and Gaming
Commission protecting the Behnen's?
COMMUNICATION # 6: Becky had Ted's FBI report in 97, indicating she
was a snitch for the FBI so Ted would loose his license.
(End of communications)
As corroboration of the information contained in the communications
from the source described as a "member of a LCN crew," On September 30,
2002, attorneys J. Tony Serra and Shari L. Greenburger of San Francisco
filed a Writ of Mandamus in Federal Court
to compel the Department of Justice to order that the FBI produce evidence
that has up until now been unavailable to lawyers representing the appeal
of the accused murderers of Binion. Serra represents Richard Tabish.
The Writ states, "We are informed and believe that the FBI and other
federal defendants in this case actively investigated the alleged homicide
of Ted Binion, and have possession or control of exculpatory information
which is essential to Mr. Tabish's defense, which cannot be obtained from
any other source."
Tabish's attorneys contend that Ted Binion was the subject of a twelve-year
investigation, beginning in 1981, in which the former casino executive
was the target of at least three RICO investigations by the FBI.
"In December 1999, FBI Special Agent Gerald McIntosh sought and obtained
a warrant for a wiretap, seeking to intercept the communications of various
members of a criminal enterprise, which allegedly included Mr. Binion before
his death, in September 1998. The affidavit surfaced in October 2001, in
the course of criminal proceedings against Robert Marshall, one of the
wiretap targets. According to affiant McIntosh, one of the express purposes
of the wiretap was to investigate the alleged murder of "Teddy" Binion
-- even though Mr. Tabish and co-defendant Sandra Murphy had already been
charged ten months earlier for Mr. Binion's alleged murder," states the
Serra's Motion continues: "Then, in another intercepted conversation
on January 30, 1997, between Pete and Johnny. John says he wants Pete with
him because he is a good burglar guy. John says he can help Pete with that
thing with Binion, and that John can get him in there as long as he knows
that Pete will be loyal. They discuss the layout of Binion's house. They
say they can do it without whacking the guy, but will do whatever is necessary."
The Writ then states, "In an intercepted communication on February 6,
1997, John Branco, Joe DeLuca, and Pete Caruso discuss what Ted Binion
likes to drink, and the value and location of riches hidden in his house,
including silver dollars, gold bars, jewelry, and diamonds. Further, Joe
discusses his knowledge about how much is buried on Binion's ranch in Pahrump,
Nevada, and the fact that Binion has marked it but forgotten. They discuss
'the thing in the garage that even the cop's won't be able to find things
The Writ tells about a hiding place in a vent in Binion's kitchen containing
$80,000 worth of gold coins.
On August 15, 2000, following his conviction, Tabish filed a motion
for a new trial based in part on the state's failure to disclose exculpatory
evidence. In support of the motion, numerous FBI witnesses were called
to testify. FBI Special Agent Charles Maurer testified: "Arthur Mauriello,
an FBI informant, had provided information to the FBI that the same individuals
who killed Herbie Blitzstein had talked about robbing Ted Binion. Antone
Davi and Richard Friedman were charged and convicted of murdering Herbie
Blitzstein. Antone Davi, a cooperating witness, provided information that
Ted Binion offered $50,000 to kill his sister Becky. Ted Binion later changed
his mind and withdrew this offer. However, in that time period, a plot
was hatched to kill Ted Binion instead. Mobster Pete Caruso had ordered
a hit on Ted Binion, and Teddy Binion didn't know that the 'crew' was going
to kill Teddy and his sister," according to Mauriello's statement.
The Writ also names former Las Vegas Metro police officer Ron Mortenson
stating he provided the FBI with copies of his notes after he was indicted
in May 1997 for a shooting. The notes, which were introduced through Agent
Maurer, summarize Mortenson's jail house conversations with Antone Davi
and detail the mob plot to kill Binion and steal millions in cash believed
to be stashed in his home. These same notes also make clear that the state
and federal agencies worked together to investigate Binion's death.
FBI Special Agent John Plunkett also testified at the hearing on Tabish's
motion for new trial. Plunkett said that beginning in February 1997, he
learned of an intended mob hit on Ted Binion, as well as a plot to rob
him, and passed this information on to Las Vegas Metro Police detective
Mike Franks. Agent Plunkett testified that he believed it was more appropriate
for Las Vegas Metro to tell Binion of the threat.
Plunkett stated, "In an intercepted communication on January 29, 1997,
two individuals identified as Pete and Johnny Branco discuss silver dollars
in Ted Binion's garage, stating 'he has them in barrels in the garage ...
they are brand new.' Pete tells Johnny that he is looking into getting
the silver dollars. Notably, there is 'talk of whacking him (Binion) and
how much money he has in his drawers.'"
Then there was that mysterious drive-by shooting at Binion's estate.
In a June 4, 1997 police report,
Ted Binion identified the shooters as Grover Chance LeSueur and his nephew
Benny along with two other young people.
Leading up to the shooting incident is an eyewitness statement made
by Murphy telling a story of three unwelcome visits to the Palomino Lane
house by the Behnens or their associates during the weeks prior to the
On one occasion Murphy describes a visit by Chance LeSueur. She described
LeSueur coming to the door of the house wanting to speak to Ted. Murphy
said she told LeSueur through the locked door that "When Ted's not home
no one is allowed to come in the house."
Murphy then describes Chance LeSueur kicking the door and screaming
"I'm going to kill you!" She said she picked up a pistol and showed it
to LeSueur through the window to prove she "was not fooling around." LeSueur
then reportedly left the property.
According to Sandra Murphy in a taped interview: "R.D. Matthews came
over to our house with Benny one day and they wanted to talk to Ted. I
opened the door like a dummy. They forced their way in. I tried to shut
the door on them, but they pushed me aside. I said Ted is in his room sleeping,
but he got up and began yelling at R.D. and Benny, and it got to be a scene.
Then R.D. left and told Ted that he "was going to be sorry."
Ted Binion was found dead in his bedroom on September 17, 1998.
Following the conviction of his daughter for First Degree murder, Ken
Murphy, a highly successful auto repossessor from Southern California,
paid a visit to this writer.
He told me of an incident at Ted Binion's home in early 1998 when he
personally witnessed an unwelcome visit by Benny and Chance. This time,
according to Murphy, his daughter opened the door and he heard male voices
yelling at her in a threatening manner. He said he stepped to the door
and ordered two persons he identified as Benny and Chance off the property.
Murphy said they refused to leave, and he described how he "knocked their
heads together like bowling balls." He stated that both young men fell
to the ground unconscious, and that he worried he had killed them. Murphy
said the two awoke shortly thereafter and left the premises without further
Sandra and Ken Murphy, stand in
promise that their daughter will
appear in court
if let out on bail.
(LV Review Journal photo
by Clint Karlsen)
Three years after Binion's death, Chance LeSueur was mysteriously seen
dining with Nick, Benny and Becky Behnen at Piero's. Later that evening
he participated in the beating of Ted Binion's best friend and his daughter.
After Binion's body was discovered in 1998, Sandra Murphy was inexplicably
barred from entering the house. In the meantime, the death scene was contaminated.
When she was allowed re-entry the day after the death, she hired a videographer
to follow her as she took inventory. On the tape she emotionally pointed
out that most of the valuables were missing and it was visible on the tape
that the house had been ransacked and looted. One of the items missing
was a ten million dollar check which Binion was believed to have recently
received for his share of the proceeds from the sale of a casino game called
"Caribbean Stud" to Mikohn Gaming. In addition to the check, cash in excess
of $20,000 was reportedly missing.
On the night of Binion's death, TV news showed then-Clark County Public
Administrator Jared Shafer entering the house. The Public Administrator
is someone who had no apparent business entering the house of a decedent
who had an up to date Last Will and Testament.
When a decedent has no Last Will and Testament, or has no known next
of kin, the Public Administrator is usually called in to take position
and determine the disposition of the decedent's personal property. In the
case of Ted Binion, he had a current Last Will and Testament, and next
of kin. In his Will, Sandra Murphy was named as an heir along with his
daughter Bonnie. In fact, Murphy was willed the house she was temporarily
barred from entering, a house where suspected hidden treasure existed!
In the video Murphy commissioned, she is heard using four letter words
to describe the disappearance of her and Ted's valuables during her absence.
The tape was shown to the jury and Murphy's vocal anger didn't help
her case. At trial, the District Attorney never questioned the fact that
others had been allowed to contaminate the crime scene and that no yellow
crime tape was apparent. And then there was that mysterious appearance
of Jared Shafer and his staff.
Based on the fact that no police officers were called as witnesses in
the first trial, questions regarding the reason for not sealing the crime
scene were never asked.
In January 2004, Binion's Horseshoe, because of mismanagement or possible
skimming, went broke and closed
its doors indefinitely.
Horseshoe goes broke
(LV Review Journal
photo by Jeff Scheid)
The re-trial of Sandra Murphy and Richard Tabish is expected to take
place in the Fall of 2004. Judge Joseph Bonaventure will again preside.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com