5 Most Famous Las Vegas Mob Murders
While many know Las Vegas to be one of the most popular gambling and entertainment destinations in the world, many may not be as well-versed in just how seedy and dark the early days of Las Vegas were. The link between the mob and casino crime has cemented over many decades and numerous old mob families in Las Vegas used casinos as the headquarters for their criminal operations –bringing with them tragedy and violence.
Retired FBI agent and Las Vegas business man Bill Coulthard became entangled in a feud with notorious mobster Benny Binion during the 1970s when Coulthard refused to extend the license of a premises Binion owned. This feud ultimately led to Coulthard’s demise as on 25th July 1972 he was killed when his car exploded as he turned on the ignition. Binion was never charged with the crime, but he has always remained the number one suspect.
Marvin Shumate, a lowly Las Vegas cab driver, devised a foolish get-rich-quick scheme in which he would kidnap the son of infamous of mob boss Benny Binion, Ted, in order to extort ransom money. Unfortunately for Shumate he involved another petty criminal in his plot who ratted him out to Binion and Shumate’s body was found in the Nevada desert on 2nd December 1967, having been shot in the chest and head.
Influential labour leader Al Bramlet – who was no doubt a fan of Australian sports betting – had built a violent reputation for bombing establishments that refused to fall in line with his Local 226 union, but he made some powerful enemies. Gramby and Thomas Hanley, a father and son, become angry with Bramlet over money owed to them for an attempted restaurant bombing gone wrong and on 22nd February 1977 Bramlet was kidnapped, robbed of $10,000 and murdered in the Nevada desert. Both Hanelys were sentenced to life in prison.
Herbert Blitzstein, aka ‘Fat Herbie’, had been working as a bodyguard for mobster Tony ‘the Ant’ Spilotro and was murdered in his Las Vegas home on 6th January 1977. The murder was said to be a joint effort between the Buffalo and Los Angeles mafia in retaliation to the chaos unleased by Spilotro across Las Vegas throughout the 1970s.
Even though Ted Binion was at the centre of the failed kidnapping plot which led to the murder of Marvin Shumate, things didn’t end well for Benny Binion’s son either. On 17th September 1998, Ted was found deceased on a mattress in his Las Vegas home having ingested a deadly cocktail of heroin, Valium, and Xanax. Even though the death was made to look like a suicide, Ted’s then girlfriend and her lover were found guilty, but both were found not guilty at a re-trial. However, the murder was likely mob-related considering that days after his death, it was discovered that Ted kept a stash of 6 tonnes of silver bullion, cash, 100 000 rare coins, and casino chips – totalling an estimated worth of $14 million.