COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
January 9, 2002
Horseshoe Club in Deep Doo Doo
On Friday, August 25, 2000, Stratosphere Tower developer Bob Stupak was dining with his 23-year-old daughter at Piero's restaurant. After loudly claiming that Stupak had "stolen Horseshoe Casino chips," three men viciously attacked the duo at their table
Police reports stated: "Suspect #4 grabbed Mr. Stupak by his right arm, stating 'I want to talk to you outside.' At that time suspects #3 and #8, using both hands slapped Mr. Stupak repeatedly on the face and head, while suspect #4 continued to pull Mr. Stupak outside the booth."
Stupak's daughter, Summer, who attempted to stop the beating of her 58-year-old father after restaurant employees failed to help, narrowly missed being hit by a chair swung at her by one of the assailants. She is quoted in the police report stating: "The owner of Piero's did nothing to intervene or stop this assault."
One of the assailants was 23-year-old Benny Behnen, the grandson of Horseshoe founder Benny Binion and the son of current Horseshoe owners Becky and Nick Behnen. Benny Behnen is an unlicensed executive at the Horseshoe.
Eyewitnesses collaborated the police report though Piero's owner Freddie Glusman later denied the incident occurred. Similar violent incidents have also been reported at his upscale eatery in the past.
Immediately following the assault at the restaurant and before police arrived, Behnen and his accomplices fled, but returned later to be seen with Glusman in the bar laughing and drinking. One of the assailants (not Behnen) later pleaded No Contest to the charges and paid a $1,000 fine. Behnen was not charged.
Another witness stated that Freddie Glusman was heard bragging in the bar later that evening that Bob Stupak had taken a beating in his restaurant. Piero's is known as a hangout for mob wannabes.
Glusman, along with several known mob associates, have been referred to as "Pillars of the Community" by Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald. Glusman was also recently named "Man of the Year" by the B'nai B'rith. (Only in Las Vegas!)
The day following the assault, and after Glusman's public relations man/son-in-law Tom Letisia came to his aid, Glusman was quoted in the Las Vegas Review Journal saying "Benny didn't have anything to do with it. He wasn't even in the goddamn room. He was sitting with Becky in the other room."
Glusman called the incident a "nonevent," and tried to laugh it off by saying it reminded him of the "Old Las Vegas." Becky Behnen was also quoted in the Las Vegas Sun saying, "Everyone in the room was laughing, so it couldn't have been anything serious."
The Stupaks did not share in the laughter. Bob Stupak said that the incident caused him to fear for his life and the safety of his family.
This was not the first time Benny Behnen had physically assaulted Bob Stupak. In 1998 Stupak filed a police report against Behnen for another assault and battery incident that occurred at the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Stupak alleged young Behnen took a swing at him when he tried to cash several Horseshoe $5,000 chips.
Jack Binion and his late brother Ted ran the Horseshoe until the hostile takeover by their estranged sister Becky and her husband Nick Behnen in June 1998. Stupak and a number of other high rollers stopped gambling at the Horseshoe following the takeover because of reported mistreatment by Nick Behnen. Behnen is not licensed and is not supposed to perform official casino functions.
Observers believe that the Behnens have suffered financially without Jack and Ted's high rollers. The dismantling of the casino's million-dollar display and the casino's failure to pay its yearly assessments to the Fremont Street Experience LLC may be examples of how winnings have leveled off after the Behnens took control.
Bob Stupak became embroiled in the Binion/Behnen family war when in November 1998, following Ted's death; Stupak tried to cash $250,000 worth of $5,000 chips. Stupak also attempted to retrieve two safe deposit boxes full of cash he had on deposit in the casino's cage.
At that time, Nick and Becky Behnen unexplainably refused to cash Stupak's chips or return his currency. Stupak loudly protested and was thrown bodily from the casino by young Benny Behnen.
Bob Stupak had at least a half-million dollars in one hundred-dollar bills stored in the Horseshoe's casino cage. The Behnens showed no intention of returning the money.
After Benny Behnen physically threw Stupak out of the building, Stupak filed the initial assault and battery charges against him. Nevada gaming authorities did not take action against the Behnens for the assault, but did order them to return Stupak's cash and to redeem his chips.
The Behnens returned Stupak's cash later that month but continued to defy the state Gaming Control Board's orders to cash his chips until forced to do so by authorities one year later.
Bob and Summer Stupak considered the event at Piero's to be the second dangerous attack on their family in a long running vendetta based on Stupak's friendship with Jack and Ted Binion. Nevada Gaming Control authorities were also informed of the Piero's incident, but once again took no action. The Horseshoe is noted for being a generous political campaign contributor. The governor appoints the Gaming Control Board members.
Now that the Behnens have been ordered to settle a dispute over $1.8 million in late payments they owe to the Fremont Street Limited Liability Corporation, the Stupaks may be about to get the last laugh.
Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. Visit his website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com