Tuesday, Jan. 12, 1999 | 11:49 a.m.
The late Ted Binion's girlfriend and three men charged with stealing his buried silver fortune in Pahrump have been ordered to District Court next month to explain what happened to valuables missing from Binion's Las Vegas home.
Chief District Judge Lee Gates, who is overseeing Binion's multimillion-dollar estate, on Monday ordered Sandy Murphy and the three theft suspects, Rick Tabish, Michael Milot and David Mattsen, to appear before him Feb. 4 to answer questions under oath about the missing items, which include a $300,000 collection of rare currency.
Gates took the action based on a 10-page affidavit filed by Binion's older brother, former Horseshoe Club President Jack Binion, who is the executor of the late gaming executive's estate.
Breaking a four-month silence, Jack Binion raised new questions in the affidavit about his brother's Sept. 17 death and heightened suspicions about the activities of Murphy and the three Pahrump suspects.
The elder Binion accused the 26-year-old Murphy of having an affair with Tabish, a 33-year-old Montana contractor who was arrested in Pahrump with Milot and Mattsen on Sept. 19 after they allegedly dug up $4 million in silver coins and bars that Ted Binion had stored in an underground vault.
Binion also charged in his affidavit that Murphy and the three men either cleaned out Ted Binion's safe after he died or have knowledge of where to locate the missing valuables.
"Based on the information available to me at this time," Binion said in a copy of the 10-page affidavit obtained by the Sun, "Ted believed Murphy was having an affair, and (he) intended to sever his emotional and financial relationship with her.
"The circumstances surrounding Murphy, Tabish, Milot and Mattsen make it highly probable that they either converted Ted's property or have knowledge regarding the whereabouts of Ted's property that is missing."
A District Court judge recently ruled that Murphy was entitled to the 55-year-old Ted Binion's 2408 Palomino Lane home and $300,000 in cash, despite a claim from the estate that the deceased had instructed his lawyer to cut her out of his will the day before he died.
Murphy's lawyer, David Chesnoff, insisted today that Murphy was legally entitled to everything in the home.
"The court has ruled that the items in the house belong to Sandy, so we'll wait to see the papers to see how the executor has any interest in her property," Chesnoff said.
Gates also gave Binion permission to take the deposition in Los Angeles of Linda Carroll, a longtime Murphy friend, to find out what she knows about the missing valuables. Carroll, also known as Linda Rothman, talked at length with Murphy the evening following Ted's death.
And Gates gave the estate the green light to seek records from the posh Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Murphy and Tabish reportedly had several trysts before and after his brother's death.
The latest clash over Binion's estate comes amid a stepped-up investigation into his death by Metro homicide detectives. Both Murphy and Tabish, under the advice of their lawyers, have refused to allow detectives to question them about Ted Binion's death.
Murphy telephoned Metro Police at 3:55 p.m. Sept. 17 to report that she had discovered Binion's body next to an empty bottle of Xanax, a prescription sedative, at his Palomino Lane home.
Police found no evidence of foul play at the scene, but a toxicology report concluded that Binion had lethal levels of both Xanax and heroin in his body. That prompted Clark County Coroner Ron Flud to leave the official ruling on the manner in which Binion died as undetermined, and it persuaded homicide detectives to escalate the probe into his death. Binion was a heroin user but was not known to take both drugs at the same time.
Detectives have declined to declare his death a homicide, but questions have mounted about the activities of Murphy and Tabish.
The estate has hired private investigator Tom Dillard to look into the death and has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in Binion's demise.
In his affidavit, Jack Binion said he believed Murphy and Tabish know what happened to the items missing from his brother's house.
The safe was "completely empty except for one dime left precisely in the middle of the safe," Binion said.
In Pahrump, after Nye County sheriff's deputies arrested Tabish and his cohorts, they found a single silver dollar in the middle of the vault.
Besides the collection of rare currency, Binion said, a $20,000 bundle of $100 bills and 100 gold coins valued at $35,000 were taken from his brother's Las Vegas home after his death. Boxes of other coins and currency, a bag of diamonds, two gold pocket watches, Ted's checkbook and other coin collections also are missing from the house.
On Sept. 19, Murphy used a credit card of Ted's that had been canceled to obtain $3,000 in cash and unsuccessfully tried to get another $5,000, Binion charged.
There also is a $3,772 check in Ted's account to Neiman Marcus that Murphy may have used to buy clothes for Tabish two days before Ted died, Binion said.
The reported romantic relationship between Murphy and Tabish was first disclosed in September by Nye County sheriff's deputies. Evidence of the relationship was found on the morning Tabish was arrested in Pahrump.
Binion said in his affidavit that Billy Marin, a Tabish associate, told a Beverly Hills coin dealer in July that Tabish and Murphy secretly were having an affair.
About 10 days before Ted's death, Murphy told a salesman at Gianni Versace at the Forum Shops that things weren't going well between her and Ted and that she was trying to get out of the relationship, Binion said. She also told the salesman she was seeing another man.
Binion said he believes records will show that Tabish and Murphy stayed together at the Peninsula Hotel from July through September, including the weekend before Ted's death.
At 4 a.m. on the morning of his death, Ted was in good spirits, but he told a longtime friend, Willis Rieker, that he believed Murphy was cheating on him and stealing from him, Binion alleged.
"Ted told Rieker that Ted was going to get rid of Murphy and her family," Binion said. "They discussed the possible thefts from Ted Binion's home by the family of Murphy."
Two witnesses, including Ted's housekeeper, Mary Montoya-Gascoigne, have stepped forward to indicate that Ted had told them the day before he died that he planned to cut off Murphy's credit line, Binion said.
Tabish had lunch with Murphy on the day Ted died and called her from his cell phone at 3.47 p.m., eight minutes before Murphy reported discovering his body, Binion said.
In October, Binion said, Murphy and Tabish were observed "engaging in affectionate behavior toward each other" while flying from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. The two also reportedly stayed at the Peninsula Hotel as late as November, he said.
Binion added that he believed Murphy and Tabish now are living together in Las Vegas.