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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

The assault on the Stupaks at Piero’s

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 30, 2003
   Bob Stupak trying to cash Horseshoe chips       Summer Stupak's bruises      Benny Behnen and Mayor Oscar Goodman (LV SUN)

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, a well known watering hole frequented by local politicians and members of organized crime. Three men attacked the duo at their table after claiming that Stupak had "stolen Horseshoe Casino chips."

Police reports 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.

One of the assailants was reported to be 23 year old Benny Behnen, the grandson of Horseshoe founder Benny Binion and the son of current Horseshoe owners Becky and Nick Behnen. Becky Behnen is the estranged sister of Jack Binion and the late Ted Binion. Behnen won control of the Horseshoe after a bitter court battle with her siblings. Benny Behnen is an unlicensed executive at the Horseshoe.

Eyewitnesses collaborate the police report though Piero's owner Freddie Glusman later denied the incident occurred. Similar incidents have been reported at the upscale eatery in the past.

Bob Stupak suffered severe head injuries in a 1995 motorcycle accident that almost took his life.  He lay in coma for two weeks and is still receiving medical treatment for complications stemming from the accident.

Another of the reported Piero's assailants was Grover "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 later found dead on Sept. 17, 1998. Although initially charged with attempted murder, LeSueur eventually pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Inexplicably, prior to his alleged assault on the Stupaks, 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 LeSeuer, the man who allegedly was linked to the 1996 drive-by shooting outside Ted Binion's home, is not clear.

Immediately following the assault and before police arrived, the three assailants fled the scene but returned later to be seen with Glusman drinking at the bar.

Bob Stupak had filed a police report in 1998 against Benny Behnen for another assault and battery incident that Stupak said occurred at the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Stupak alleged young Behnen took a swing at him.

High stakes gambler Stupak was notably the best friend of former Horseshoe owners Jack and Ted Binion and had won millions of dollars playing poker at the Horseshoe. Stupak was a regular in the Horseshoe poker room during the Binion's proprietorship. The Binions ran the club until the unfriendly takeover by their estranged sister Becky and her husband Nick Behnen in June 1998. Stupak and a number of other high rollers temporarily stopped gambling at the Horseshoe following the takeover because of reported hostile treatment by Nick Behnen. The Behnens have suffered financially without Jack and Ted's high rollers. The selling of the casino's million-dollar display was an example of how winnings have leveled off for the Behnens.

In September 1998, Ted Binion died in his home under mysterious circumstances. His live in girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her lover Rick Tabish were convicted in July 1999, of his murder and are appealing the verdict.

          Tabish and Murphy
After the convictions, Becky Behnen was shown on TV crying at her brother's graveside. Some observers speculate based on the sibling's well-known animosity and Behnen's mysterious association with Chance LeSeuer, 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.

Bob 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 chips. Stupak also attempted to retrieve two safe deposit boxes full of cash he had on deposit in the casino's cage. At that time, Nick and Becky Behnen unexplainably refused to cash Stupak's chips or return his currency. Stupak loudly protested and was “86ed” bodily from the casino by Benny Behnen.

Stupak had at least a half-million dollars in one hundred-dollar bills stored in the Horseshoe's casino cage. The Behnens showed no intention of returning the money until Stupak showed up with two Nevada Gaming Control Board investigators in tow. The money was reluctantly returned, but the chips remained uncashed.

Gaming Control promptly started a thorough investigation of the Behnen's refusal to cash the chips. The investigation made national news. It was said that Nick and Becky Behnen were bringing embarrassment upon their own industry through their refusal to abide by state law and cash the chips.

Their obvious vendetta against brothers Ted and Jack Binion's best friend could have cost them their gaming license if it continued. The Behnens continued to defy the state Gaming Control Board's orders to cash the chips until forced to do so by authorities one year later.

The father and daughter claim that they suffered injuries from the incident at Piero's. An unidentified female restaurant employee who witnessed the melee was later quoted in police reports saying "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."

Glusman reportedly fired the employee after he learned she talked to police. Summer Stupak was also quoted in the police report stating: "The owner of Piero's did nothing to intervene or stop this assault."

Witnesses also reported that after police left, Benny Behnen returned to Piero's and remained there socializing with Glusman until after midnight. Another witness stated that Glusman was heard bragging that Bob Stupak had taken a beating in his restaurant earlier that evening.

The following day, Glusman summoned his son in law, local PR man Tom Letizia. Under Letizia’s alleged direction, 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 "old Las Vegas."
Becky Benhen was also quoted in the Las Vegas Sun saying, "Everyone in the room was laughing, so it couldn't have been anything serious."

Bob and Summer Stupak were not laughing and considered the event to be the second dangerous attack on their family in a long running vendetta based on Stupak's friendship with Jack and Ted Binion. Both Stupaks said they were concerned for their safety. Bob Stupak even hired a bodyguard.

Both Stupaks filed charges. The Clark County Sheriff and District Attorney received a number of letters from Stupak’s friends demanding that official action be taken before another incident occurs. The Nevada Gaming Control Board was also alerted.

 Russel “R.D.” Matthews, one of the assailants, later pleaded no contest to assualt charges, however Behnen and LeSeuer were never charged. No explanation was ever given as to why they were given a pass.

Three years after the event, the Behnen family is still well known throughout Nevada for their generous political campaign contributions; Stupak is back as a regular at the Horseshoe and Piero's; Chance LeSueur was found dead under mysterious circumstances; Benny Behnen is a respected member of local society; and Tom Letizia, Piero's PR man, has suddenly become a close friend of Bob Stupak.

In Sin City, its amazing how time heals all.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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