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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:

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 convictions.

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 casino's cage.

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.

Benny Behnen

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 left.

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.

Jan Jones

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 Minister" Tom 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 parties.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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