Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

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Another Tabish scheme alleged

Jailhouse informant David Gomez has suggested that Rick Tabish planned to pay him to accuse prosecutors of misconduct in the Ted Binion murder case.

In a May 31 memo obtained by the Sun, Metro Police Corrections Officer Dante Tromba said Gomez told him he was going to help Tabish because he "wanted to get paid" and was mad about his treatment in the Clark County Detention Center.

Tromba said an angry Gomez talked about the alleged payoff following a second-floor jailhouse disturbance on May 30, less than two weeks after Tabish and his co-defendant, Sandy Murphy, were convicted of killing Binion.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Tabish had sought to bribe witnesses to provide him with an alibi in Binion's September 1998 slaying.

Jason Frazer, a former Tabish business partner, testified that the payoff scheme was hatched by Tabish from his cellblock at the detention center.

Tromba said in his two-page memo that Gomez told him Tabish planned to reopen previously dismissed claims that prosecutors had conspired with jail officials to plant Gomez in Tabish's cell to steal his confidential defense notes.

The allegations first surfaced in February before the trial, but they fell by the wayside after Gomez, who has multiple felony convictions, asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and ducked questions on the witness stand. In interviews with the media, Gomez denied knowledge of any such plot.

Last month, however, Tabish's new lawyer, William Terry, again brought up the accusations in a motion for a new trial for Tabish, saying Gomez had changed his story.

Terry said that since the trial Gomez told a defense investigator that he was placed in the same protective custody cell block as Tabish with the help of the district attorney's office. Gomez now is willing to answer questions under oath, Terry said.

Gomez, who's in the custody of federal authorities at the North Las Vegas Jail, is expected to testify Monday at an evidentiary hearing on the motion for a new trial. The hearing is set to begin Friday with defense claims of misconduct on the part of the jurors who convicted Murphy and Tabish.

In his memo, Tromba said Gomez reported that a Tabish investigator had approached him about giving a statement alleging Chief Deputy District Attorney David Roger had discussed the scheme to get close to Tabish with ranking jail officials during a secret meeting at the detention center.

"Inmate Gomez stated that 'he intended on doing it because he wanted to get paid and he felt that he was getting f ... by us,' " Tromba wrote. "He stated 'that he sat down and gave us hours of information concerning the Mexican Mafia and the California prison system and that he should get something for it.' "

Terry said this morning that he doesn't believe Gomez talked about getting money from Tabish.

"I have my doubts that Mr. Gomez would say that," he said.

Roger, meanwhile, has steadfastly maintained that there was no plot to plant Gomez in Tabish's cell.

In his response last week to Terry's motion, he said Gomez was not a credible witness, and he urged District Judge Joseph Bonaventure, who is conducting the evidentiary hearing, not to allow the defense to "take up precious court time to further engage in its fishing expedition."

Roger said Gomez has convictions for battery, assault with a deadly weapon, rape, forcible oral copulation, burglary and perjury and has been given a prison sentence of 25 years to life under California's "three strikes" law.

The prosecutor also presented another jailhouse memo documenting a pattern of disturbances created by Gomez at the detention center from Feb. 24 until he was taken out of the facility on June 30.

In his memo, Tromba said Gomez told him that the defense investigator wanted Gomez to go on NBC's "Dateline" and allege that the district attorney's office had "conspired against Tabish and the defense."

"Gomez stated that he might just do that unless we moved him back to (protective custody)," Tromba wrote.

The investigator, Tromba said, told Gomez that he had six corrections officers ready to testify about the reported scheme.

One of those officers, James Peal, was going to testify that Tromba had ordered Peal to place Tabish in a visitor's area so that Gomez could enter his cell and steal his papers, Tromba said.

Tromba denied that allegation when he testified at the hearing involving Gomez in February.

Also in February Frazer gave prosecutors Tabish's notes outlining the plot to pay off the alibi witnesses. He later testified that he received the notes from Tabish's civil lawyer, William Knudson.

In the notes, Frazer said, Tabish gave him instructions about approaching several witnesses.

"This is a slam dunk if everyone sticks in," Tabish said in one note. "Tell everyone when I owe someone something, the rewards are huge, and I think they know."