New evidence may surface in Binion case
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 7, 2003
Bob Stupak was notably the best friend of former Horseshoe owners Jack
and Ted Binion. Stupak was a regular in the Horseshoe poker room during
the Binion's proprietorship, but he and a number of other high rollers
stopped gambling at the casino following the hostile takeover of the club
by Jack and Tedís sister Becky, her son Benny, and husband Nick Behnen.
After a bitter legal battle, Becky Behnen gained control of the casino
from her estranged brothers in 1998. The feuding siblings are the children
of Horseshoe Club founder Benny Binion. Ted Binion permanently lost his
gaming license in 1997 for narcotics violations and was later found dead
under questionable circumstances on Sept. 17, 1998. Binion's live-in girlfriend,
Sandy Murphy, and Rick Tabish, a Binion business associate, were later
found guilty of the first degree murder of Binion. Both are appealing their
Rick Tabish and Sandy Murphy
The Behnens have been suffering financially without Jack and Ted's
high rollers, but since the death of Ted, Becky has denied being estranged
from her brothers or of having financial problems. After the convictions
of Tabish and Murphy, Becky Behnen was shown on TV crying at her brother's
graveside. Some observers speculate based on the sibling's well-known animosity
that the news cameras showing up just when she decided to visit her brother's
grave was an indication that the event was staged and disingenuous.
In November 1998, three months after Ted's death, Stupak tried to cash
$250,000 worth of $5,000 chips he had won at the club. Stupak also attempted
to retrieve two safe deposit boxes full of cash he had on deposit in the
Nick and Becky Behnen unexplainably refused to cash Stupak's chips or
return his cash. Stupak protested and was physically ejected from the casino
by 23 year old Benny Behnen. Stupak filed assault and battery charges against
Benny for allegedly taking a swing at him during the episode.
The week of the incident the National Gambling Impact Study Commission
was in town and the eyes of the nation were on the hearings at the MGM.
Also in town was nationally known gambling critic the Reverend Tom Grey,
Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion.
Rev. Grey was my houseguest.
Rev. Tom Grey
In a stroke of genius, Stupak donated one of his uncashable $5,000
chips to Grey's Methodist church in Illinois. The following day, the Reverend
and I attempted to cash the chip twice, but on each occasion we were rudely
ordered to leave the casino. Reverend Grey left town and entrusted his
chip to me. The story began to spread in papers across the country. Headlines
read: ďLas Vegas Casino Refuses to Honor its Own Chips."
After our aborted attempts, Stupak ask me to meet him in front of the
Horseshoe. When I arrived, Bob, his attorney Jim Jimmerson, two Nevada
Gaming Control agents, and a plethora of news media were there. Against
the orders of Horseshoe security guards we entered the casino and went
to the cage where I once again politely requested they cash the chip. Becky
and Nick Behnen ordered the cashiers to ignore my request. The TV cameras
recorded the event for the six oíclock news.
Gaming Control agents then ordered the Behnens to cash the chip. Becky
steadfastly refused. The agents then ordered her to bring Stupak's cash
boxes to the counter. She reluctantly complied. Cashiers hand counted at
least $300,000.00 in one hundred dollar bills. Stupak took his money and
Bob Stupak and attorney at Horseshoe cage
The next day, we tried one last time to cash the chips. This time,
in addition to reporters, the UNLV football team accompanied us into the
casino. Stupak had hired them as bodyguards. We were thwarted once again
and I left with the now infamous chip in my wallet. We decided to let the
gaming officials handle the problem.
Later that day I met with several long-time Horseshoe employees. They
alleged that the Binion brothers prior to Tedís untimely death, were planning
to have millions of dollars worth of $5,000 chips cashed all at once to
break the bank so they could retake control of the casino.
I was also told that Ted boasted of having "taken care" of then-gubernatorial
candidate Jan Jones with a $50,000 campaign contribution to guarantee him
getting his gaming license reinstated if she were elected. Even though
Jones lost the election, it was assumed that Becky and Nick were aware
of the scheme. This assumption opens up untoward speculation.
I was told that Ted was paranoid about his safety during the weeks
before his death and had asked old friends to stay close to him day and
night. I was also told that someone had broken all of the lenses on the
eight security cameras surrounding Ted's house the evening before his death.
The fact that Ted invited Jones to visit his drug filled house to pick
up her money on his last day alive causes speculation that he thought he
would live to see the day he would regain his gaming license and go back
to work at the Horseshoe Ė possibly with his friend Bob Stupak at his side.
Reverend Grey's chip along with the remaining $5,000 chips were finally
cashed in July, 1999, the day before the Gaming Commission was to hold
a hearing on Behnenís refusal to cash the chips.
On August 25, 2000, Stupak and his 23-year-old daughter Summer were
attacked and beaten by three men while dining at a restaurant on Convention
Center Drive. The men battered the duo at their table after claiming that
Stupak had "stolen Horseshoe Casino chips."
Following the 9:23 PM incident, one of the alleged assailants, Benny
Behnen, was allowed to return to the restaurant and was observed in the
bar socializing with restaurant owner Freddie Glusman until after midnight.
The following day Glusman summoned his son in law and in-house "Information
Letizia to do damage control. Through Letizia, Glusman was quoted in
the Las Vegas Review Journal saying "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 tried to laugh it off by saying it
reminded him of the "Old Las Vegas."
Another of the reported assailants was Chance LeSeuer who in 1996 attracted
police attention when he was linked to a drive-by shooting outside Ted
Binion's Palomino Lane home, the same house in which Binion was found dead.
Although initially charged with attempted murder, LeSueur eventually pleaded
guilty to lesser charges. Prior to the assault on the Stupaks, LeSeuer
was observed dining with Nick, Becky, and Benny Behnen in another part
of the restaurant.
Several months later, the third assailant, Russell "R.D." Matthews,
pleaded no contest and paid a $1,000 fine. However, former DA Stewart Bell
refused to prosecute LeSeuer and Benny Behnen.
In 1996, Ted Binion named LeSeuer and Benny Behnen in a police report
concerning a drive-by shooting outside his Palomino Lane home. In 2000,
LeSeuer was found dead in Arizona of unknown causes. He was 23 years old
when he died.
If a new trial is granted, the story of the infamous $5,000 chip may
resurface to be tied into a rambling scenario of conspiracy and intrigue
intended to shift the blame for Ted Binionís death to yet unidentified
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com