Last defendants in Binion case sentenced

LAS VEGAS - The twisted tale of lust, greed and buried treasure that made up the Ted Binion murder case came to a quiet end Thursday with the sentencing of the final four defendants.

David Mattsen and Michael Milot pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit grand larceny, a gross misdemeanor.

They were accused of helping convicted murderer Rick Tabish dig up Binion's silver fortune in Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas, two days after the wealthy gambling figure's Sept. 17, 1998, death. Mattsen was Binion's former ranch manager.

Tabish, a contractor from Missoula, Mont., and his lover, Sandy Murphy, were convicted in May of killing Binion and the subsequent attempt to steal $7 million in silver he buried.

Murphy was Binion's live-in girlfriend. She and Tabish are serving life sentences.

Steven Wadkins and John B. Joseph pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit extortion, also a gross misdemeanor. Prosecutors accused them and Tabish of torturing Jean sand pit owner Leo Casey into turning over his interest in the pit in July 1998. Tabish, who prosecutors said was desperate for money to save his failing business, also was convicted of that crime.

None of the four defendants sentenced Thursday faced charges related to Binion's murder. All four must perform 200 hours of community service or pay a $2,000 fine within six months. Mattsen indicated he will choose community service and the other three will pay their fines.

It was a lackluster ending to a bizarre tale that captivated this gambling town for two years. Prosecutors contend Binion was killed for his money by a greedy girlfriend and her secret lover. Defense attorneys maintain Binion committed suicide or accidentally overdosed on heroin and the prescription drug Xanax.

Tabish and Murphy already have lost one bid for a new trial, but plan to appeal.

Only about 10 people besides media representatives and attorneys were in the courtroom to hear the sentences.

When it was over, District Judge Joseph Bonaventure, who presided over what was billed as this town's most famous murder case, was almost beside himself.

''That's the conclusion of this case,'' he said.

''Finished,'' prosecutor David Roger added.

''That's it,'' Bonaventure said, cracking a smile.


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