Friday, May 9, 1997 | 11:59 a.m.
State gaming agents believe they have linked suspended Horseshoe Club executive Ted Binion to a longtime reputed Kansas City underworld figure.
Agents contend Binion -- who has drawn heat over his ties to the late Chicago mob associate Herbie Blitzstein -- has had a relationship with Peter Joseph Ribaste, a convicted felon who allegedly answers to the Kansas City Mafia.
Ribaste's connection to Binion surfaced Thursday at a hearing of the State Gaming Control Board as part of Binion's bid for reinstatement into the casino industry after a one-year suspension.
Control Board member Steve DuCharme asked Binion if he had any business dealings with Ribaste. But Binion's lawyer, Mark Ferrario, promptly objected, saying the question was not relevant to the hearing, which had been set to determine whether Binion had complied with the terms of his suspension.
Ferrario contended Binion has met those terms, which included staying free of drugs and keeping his nose out of the Horseshoe's operations. Binion's brother, Horseshoe President Jack Binion, was prepared to testify at the hearing on his brother's behalf.
DuCharme did not get a chance to explain the relationship between Binion and Ribaste.
Chairman Bill Bible moved to reset the hearing for next week, along with a special investigative hearing to discuss the relationship and Binion's ties with other underworld figures.
Afterward, an angry Ferrario refused to comment on Ribaste.
Binion's other lawyer, Richard Wright, added: "It's the same old ambush tactics."
Asked about Ribaste's relationship to his client, Wright replied: "I'm not concerned."
But the Control Board reportedly became concerned about Ribaste's ties to Binion following a secret investigative hearing May 1 in which Binion was grilled about his unsavory associations.
Ribaste, a 42-year-old Las Vegas car dealer who lives in the posh Spanish Trail development, was indicted this week in Kansas City on charges of evading $84,627 in taxes from 1987-1989.
Prosecutors believe Ribaste was trying to conceal hidden interests in two Kansas City area adult nightclubs. Ribaste has had ownership ties in at least one Las Vegas topless club over the past several years.
In 1989, Ribaste was convicted in Kansas City of mail fraud and failing to disclose $90,000 in Las Vegas gambling debts. That case, which resulted in a six-month jail term for Ribaste, stemmed from his buying of a car dealership there.
He has been living in Las Vegas since then.
At his sentencing, the government documented a long history of ties between Ribaste and top Kansas City mobsters.
"This case represents classic La Cosa Nostra infiltration of a legitimate business operation," Justice Department lawyers said in a sentencing memorandum at the time.
"Ribaste is influenced by Peter Simone, a high-ranking member of the Kansas City LCN, and Ribaste seeks approval from the 'outfit' for everything he does."
The outfit is a term lawmen use to describe the Kansas City mob.
In an accompanying affidavit, FBI agent N. Dean Meyer alleged that Ribaste ran a lucrative illegal gambling business for the Kansas City crime family from 1981 through 1988.
Meyer said Ribaste had "frequent and regular contacts with high-ranking members of the Kansas City outfit."
Among those Ribaste was in touch with, Meyer said, were the late Kansas City mob boss Carl Civella, and his reputed jailed underboss, Carl DeLuna. Ribaste also had been seen with Civella's son, Anthony Civella, recently listed in Nevada's Black Book of people barred from casinos.
Ribaste, a co-owner of the Carriage Car III dealership at 3401 S. Decatur Blvd. did not return a phone call Thursday.
Las Vegas attorney Oscar Goodman -- who has represented Ribaste and top Kansas City crime lords over the years, including the Civellas -- had kind words for Ribaste.
"I've known him for years, and with me, his word has always been his bond," Goodman said.
Ribaste's suspected ties to the Kansas City mob date back to its heyday, when it had hidden interests in Las Vegas casinos.
Carl Civella and DeLuna were among the Midwest Mafia bosses convicted in the early 1980s in Kansas City of skimming profits from the Tropicana hotel-casino.
Binion, meanwhile, has come under fire from the Control Board for his associations with Blitzstein before the underworld figure's slaying.
Blitzstein, once the top lieutenant of the late Chicago mob kingpin, Anthony Spilotro, was shot to death execution style at his home Jan. 6.
Binion had acknowledged palling around with Blitzstein at topless clubs.
An FBI investigation of the mob recently resulted in the indictments of nine Los Angeles and Buffalo underworld figures on racketeering charges.
Two of the defendants were charged with plotting Blitzstein's murder to take over his loan-sharking and auto insurance fraud operations.
During the course of the homicide investigation, police informed Binion that they had received word that his life was in danger.
Binion also is said to have had an association with Joe DeLuca, one of the defendants in the racketeering indictment.
DeLuca, not charged in Blitzstein's killing, owns an auto repair shop. He remains in jail on no bond.