Police Seek Former Ted Binion Employee Hunting for Late Casino Tycoon’s Hidden Treasure

Posted on: April 12, 2019, 01:32h. 

Last updated on: April 12, 2019, 01:32h.

Police in Nye County, Nevada are seeking a man on felony burglary, conspiracy, and destruction of property charges, who they believe has been looking for Ted Binion’s fabled hidden treasure.

Ted Binion died in suspicious circumstances in 1998 but rumors he left millions in silver ingots buried on his ranch have persisted for the last two decades. (Image: AP)

Some believe the late casino tycoon left some of his personal wealth buried on his 138-acre ranch near Pahrump, 53 miles west of Las Vegas.

Pahrump resident Richard Cleaves, 56, is believed to have worked for Binion on the property more than 20 years ago. The county sheriff’s office said in a statement he was spotted by surveillance cameras on the former Binion ranch on March 30 with two unidentified accomplices who are also wanted for questioning.

All three men were carrying shovels and were found to have dug holes several feet deep, although the police statement neglected to say whether the men found any treasure.

Cleaves was previously arrested in 2017 for digging holes on the ranch, but on that occasion he failed to unearth any silver bullion, which the former Binion’s Horseshoe executive was rumored to have hidden before his suspicious death in 1998.

Murder Charges

The son of the Texas gangster turned colorful gambling impresario, Benny Binion, Ted and his brother Jack took over the management of Binion’s Horseshoe – and later the World Series of Poker – while still in their early twenties when their father lost his gambling license after being convicted of tax evasion.

By the 1980s, bon vivant Ted had developed a serious drug problem, which – along with his friendship with mobster “Fat” Herbie Blitzstein – saw him continually in trouble with law enforcement and the Nevada Gaming Commission.

In 1998, his licensed was revoked too. Banned from his own casino and forced to sell his stake, he retreated to the ranch.

There, he built a concrete bunker where he the stored the valuable assets he had previously kept in the vault at the Horseshoe, including six tons of silver bullion, wads of paper currency, and more than 100,000 rare coins. The horde was estimated to be worth between $7 million and $14 million.

Binion was found dead in September 1998 in what was first suspected to be an accidental drugs overdose or suicide. But in June 1999, Binion’s stripper girlfriend, Sandy Murphy, and her secret lover, Rick Tabish, were arrested and charged with murder.

Trial of the Century

Prosecutors accused the pair of forcing Binion to overdose on heroin and Xanax before suffocating him in a plot to steal the horde. Tabish was spotted with two other men breaking into the vault two days before Binion was buried and attempted to bribe the officers who arrested him.

In the biggest trial in Clark County history, Murphy and Tabish were initially convicted of murder, but sensationally acquitted at a retrial. They were instead found guilty of the lesser charges of conspiracy burglary and grand larceny and have since been released from prison.

But there have always been rumors that Binion buried part of his treasure elsewhere on the property, rumors that may have taken on an intriguing shade of credibility given a certain former employee’s persistent interest in breaking into the former Binion ranch and digging holes.