Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Binion daughter targets Tabish movie

Ted Binion's daughter wants to receive the proceeds from a mob-involved movie deal with one of her father's accused killers should she prevail on her wrongful death lawsuit.

Bonnie Binion and her attorney, Harry Claiborne, filed court papers today asking District Judge Michael Cherry to allow proceedings to determine the extent of the relationship between slaying suspect Rick Tabish and reputed underworld associate Joseph Cusumano.

Cherry set a 9 a.m. Jan. 10 hearing on the matter.

The 19-year-old Binion, the chief heir to her father's $50 million estate, also wants to know whether Sandy Murphy, her father's other accused killer, is profiting from the Tabish movie deal. The two defendants were reported lovers before their June 24 arrests in the elder Binion's Sept. 17, 1998, death.

In a copy of his four-page motion obtained by the Sun, Claiborne said he hopes to take sworn depositions from Cusumano and Hollywood producer Michele Berk, who is said to be working with Cusumano and Tabish on the film project.

Claiborne said he also plans to ask Tabish's attorneys, Louis Palazzo and Robert Murdock, to disclose whether they may be receiving any legal fees related to the movie deal.

The Sun reported last month that Cusumano, a reputed top lieutenant of slain Chicago mob kingpin Anthony Spilotro, may have secured Tabish's movie rights in return for help with his legal fees.

The 64-year-old Cusumano, listed in Nevada's Black Book of undesirables banned from casinos, confirmed through a friend that he was participating in a Binion film project with a Los Angeles company identified as Edgebrook Productions.

Berk, who runs Edgebrook, acknowledged that she had obtained Tabish's movie rights and was producing a film on Ted Binion's death for the Showtime cable network.

"If in fact Tabish and/or Murphy are receiving now, or are entitled in the future to receive something of value for contributing anything, including the right to use their name to a movie, then if Bonnie obtains a judgment against them for the murder of her father, Bonnie is entitled to those proceeds," Claiborne said in his motion.

The 1993 Legislature created the law that allows his client to collect those monies, he added.

Claiborne attached copies of the Sun stories about the movie deal to his motion, and he pointed out that Cherry mentioned the deal during a Nov. 30 hearing in the wrongful death case.

Claiborne said his goal is to obtain a "prejudgment writ of attachment" for all proceeds involving the Showtime project.

"Bonnie seeks from this court an order permitting her to subpoena and depose persons identified in the newspaper articles regarding the defendants' proceeds from any movie rights," Claiborne wrote.

After the discovery process, Claiborne said, Cherry should hold another hearing on his client's rights to acquire the film profits.

"The laws of our state permit Bonnie, as the daughter of Ted Binion, to attach proceeds, which Tabish and Murphy may have received, or are entitled to receive because the media is interested in their crimes," Claiborne said.

"The discovery into the newspaper stories is appropriate at this time to ensure that if proceeds exist, they are not disbursed leaving Bonnie unable to reach the proceeds by execution when she obtains a judgment against Tabish and Murphy."

Claiborne said his motion is the result of "extraordinary circumstances" because both Tabish and Murphy previously have asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when asked to testify in court about the whereabouts of valuable items missing from Ted Binion's home.

"Likely, the only property Tabish and Murphy will possess after a judgment against them for the murder of Ted Binion is their movie rights," Claiborne said.

Bonnie Binion filed her wrongful death suit against Tabish and Murphy in October, accusing the two of "engaging in a secret sexual relationship" while plotting her 55-year-old father's death. At the time, Murphy was living with the former casino executive.

Tabish, 34, and Murphy, 27, also are facing criminal charges of killing Binion and stealing his valuables, including a $300,000 collection of rare coins and currency.

Binion's body was found at his home next to an empty bottle of the prescription sedative Xanax.

Both Tabish and Murphy have denied killing Binion, who was a known heroin user.

Police believe Binion's accused killers pumped his body with drugs and suffocated him.

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