Baseball91's Weblog

July 23, 2009

Those Arizona Diamondbacks

The wife of Senator John McCain did have some tangential relationship to news on the passing of Max Dunlap in prison. Cindy McCain was the daughter of a Budweiser distributor in Arizona who had, according to an investigation in 1976 following the death of reporter Don Bolles, acquired his business from mob connections. And if not for the mob connections of his in-laws family, the Henselys, John McCain would never have been the senator from Arizona. Professional journalists sent a contingent force to complete the investigation begun by Don Bolles.

In 1993, Max Dunlap was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for arranging the killing of Don Bolles. Bolles’ brother wrote the book What Color Is Your Parachute ?? Max Dunlap, 81, was serving a life sentence for the car-bomb in a parking lot of a Phoenix hotel of an Arizona Republic reporter Bolles who at the time had gone to meet a tipster as he was investigating land fraud and organized crime. A bomb made of dynamite planted under the car was detonated by remote control. There is a blockbuster movie in the story if anyone ever gets funding to put a production company together.

Newsday’s Bob Greene at the time made a pitch to the Investigative Reports and Editors  board that, at the very least, the project to expose corruption “in a community in which an investigative reporter has been murdered,” would result in the Arizona community and other like communities in reflection on what had happened and hopefully would result in thinking “twice about killing reporters.” Thirty-eight journalists from 28 newspapers and television stations across the country descended on Arizona.

“For all of us – particularly newspapers with high investigative profiles – this is eminently self-serving. As individuals we are buying life insurance on our own reporters. If we accomplish only this, we have succeeded.”

Working under Greene, they set out not to find Bolles’ killer but to finish his work of exposing Arizona’s tangled underworld. This piece reflects the result of that investigation, that touched the family of Cindy McCain. 

Prosecutors believed Bolles was targeted because of stories that he had written which upset a liquor wholesaler who was a mentor of Dunlap. Bolles’ car exploded as he backed out and he died 11 days later from those injuries. Max Dunlap was one of three men convicted in his killing. John Adamson, who police said put the bomb on the car, was released from prison in 1996 after serving a 20-year sentence. He died in 2002. James Robison, who was accused of setting off the bomb, was convicted of murder and conspiracy, but his conviction was overturned.

The team-produced series made its debut on March 13, 1977, amid continuing controversy. Among those publishing the series: Newsday, The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Boston Globe, The Indianapolis Star, and The Denver Post. The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson was the sole newspaper in Arizona to publish the series. Many others carried reports from the Associated Press that began on March 18, five days after the first stories started.

It was said that Arizonans would never be told the true background to any of this by the Arizona media, like the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette, which were started by a guy called Eugene Pullium, at the instigation of Kemper Marley.

James Danforth “Dan” Quayle (born February 4 1947) is an American politician and a former Senator from the state of Indiana. He was the forty-fourth Vice President of the United States under George H. W. Bush (1989–1993). Quayle was born in Indianapolis to Martha Corinne Pulliam and James C. Quayle. He has often been incorrectly referred to as James Danforth Quayle, III. In his memoirs, he points out that his birth name was simply James Danforth Quayle. The name Quayle originates from the Isle of Man. His maternal grandfather, Eugene C. Pulliam, was a wealthy and influential publishing magnate who founded Central Newspapers, Inc., owner of over a dozen major newspapers such as the Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star. James C. Quayle moved his family to Arizona in 1955 to run a branch of the family’s publishing empire. While the Quayle family was very wealthy, Dan Quayle was less so; his total net worth by the time of his election in 1988 was less than a million dollars.

McCain’s father-in-law got his start as the top henchman for Kemper Marley, who was for 40 years, until his death in 1990, the undisputed political boss of Arizona, acting as the behind-the-scenes power over both the Republican and Democratic parties. But Marley was more than a politician. He was the Meyer Lansky crime syndicate’s chief Arizona operative front man for the Bronfman family—key players in the Lansky syndicate.

After Prohibition, Lansky-Bronfman associates such as Marley got control of a substantial portion of liquor (and beer) distribution across the country. In fact, Marley’s longtime public relations man, Al Lizanitz, revealed it was the Bronfman family that set Marley up in the alcohol business. However, in 1948, 52 of Marley’s employees (including Jim Hensley (the manager of Marley’s company) were prosecuted for federal liquor violations. Hensley got a 6 month suspended sentence and his brother Eugene went to prison for a year. 

The story in Arizona is that Hensley took the fall for Marley in 1948 and Marley paid back Hensley by setting him up in his own beer distribution business. Newsweek implied in an article that Hensley’s company was a “mom and pop” operation that became a big success, but the real story goes to the heart of the history of organized crime. It was the late Tom Renner, Newsday’s mob expert who spent most of his time undercover working “deep and dirty,” on the organized crime background. 

Hensley’s sponsor, Marley, was also a major player in gambling, a protégé of Lansky lieutenant Gus Greenbaum who set up in 1941 a national wire for bookmakers. After Lansky ordered a hit on his own longtime partner, “Bugsy” Siegel, who was stealing money from the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas—which was financed in part by loans from an Arizona bank chaired by Marley—Greenbaum turned day-to-day operations of the wire over to Marley while Greenbaum took Siegel’s place in tending to Lansky’s interests in LasVegas. 

In 1948 Greenbaum was murdered in a mob “hit” that set off a series of gang wars in Phoenix, but Marley survived and prospered as did his protégé, Jim Hensley, whose fortune through his daughter, Cindy, sponsored McCain’s rise to power.

Jim Hensley, McCain’s father-in-law also dabbled in dog racing and expanded his fortune by selling his track to an individual connected to the Buffalo-based Jacobs family, key Prohibition-era cogs in the Lansky network as distributors for Bronfman liquor. Expanding over the years, buying up racetracks and developing food and drink concessions at sports stadiums, Jacobs enterprises were described as “probably the biggest quasi-legitimate cover for organized crime’s money-laundering in the United States.”

In 1955, James Hensley acquired the Anheuser-Busch distributorship for Arizona. 

June 2, 1976 – Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, one of the founding members of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., was called to meeting in a downtown Phoenix hotel by a source promising him information about land fraud involving organized crime. The source didn’t show up. Bolles left the hotel, got into his car parked outside and turned the key. A powerful bomb ripped through the car, leaving Bolles mortally injured. Bolles, 47, is gravely wounded when six sticks of dynamite are detonated beneath his compact car in the parking lot of the Hotel Clarendon, 401 W. Clarendon Ave. Bolles, who had been lured to the hotel by the promise of a news tip, whispers the name “Adamson” to his rescuers.

Over the next 10 days, doctors amputated both Bolles’ legs and an arm, but could not save him.  

His shocked IRE colleagues reacted in a way unprecedented and never copied since. They descended on Arizona for a massive investigation. They set out to find not Bolles’ killer, but the sources of corruption so deep that a reporter could be killed in broad daylight in the middle of town. They were out to show organized crime leaders that killing a journalist would not stop reportage about them; it would increase it 100-fold. 

The project was exceedingly controversial and remains so. The New York Times and The Washington Post, giants in the business, chose not to participate. Some journalists, including IRE members, disliked the idea of reporters on a crusade.

June 13, 1976 – Bolles dies. Phoenix Police arrest John Harvey Adamson, racing-dog owner and a former tow-truck operator.

June 16, 1976 – Max Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor, is questioned by Phoenix Police homicide detective Jon Sellers, the lead investigator. Police say Dunlap had been observed delivering cash to Adamson.

Jan. 15, 1977 – In an agreement with prosecutors, Adamson admits planting the remote-control bomb and pleads guilty to second-degree murder. He agrees to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a 20-year, two-month prison sentence. Dunlap and James Robison, a Chandler plumber who allegedly helped Adamson by triggering the bomb, are arrested.

July 6, 1977 – Trial begins for Dunlap and Robison, who are charged with first-degree murder. During the trial, Dunlap’s attorney tries to cast suspicion on Phoenix attorney Neal Roberts, who had dealings with both Adamson and Dunlap, as the real mastermind in the murder plot.

Nov. 6, 1977 – A jury finds Dunlap and Robison guilty primarily on the strength of Adamson’s testimony. They also are found guilty of conspiring to kill then-Arizona Attorney General Bruce Babbitt and advertising man Al Lizanetz, because Babbitt had filed an antitrust lawsuit against the liquor industry in 1975. Adamson testifies that Dunlap wanted the three killed because each had angered Dunlap’s friend, millionaire rancher and liquor wholesaler Kemper Marley Sr., who never is charged in the case. Adamson testified he was hired to kill Bolles by Max Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor and close associate of Marley’s. Marley had extended a $1 million loan to Dunlap, which had not been repaid. Adamson said Dunlap hired him to kill Bolles because Marley was upset over Bolles’ stories.

Jan. 10, 1978 – Dunlap and Robison are sentenced to death.

Feb. 25, 1980 – The Arizona Supreme Court, saying defense lawyers should have been allowed to question Adamson more closely, overturns the convictions of Dunlap and Robison and orders a new trial.

June 2, 1980 – The murder charge against Dunlap is dismissed after Adamson balks at testifying against him again. Adamson had asked prosecutors to grant him certain concessions, but was denied.

June 6, 1980 – The Arizona Attorney General’s Office withdraws Adamson’s 1977 plea bargain and reinstates the original charge of first-degree murder.

June 13, 1980 – The murder charge against Robison is dismissed after Adamson refuses to testify.

Oct. 17, 1980 – In a trial held in Tucson, a jury finds Adamson guilty of first-degree murder.

Nov. 14, 1980 – Adamson is sentenced to death.

May 9, 1986 – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturns Adamson’s death sentence, saying that he improperly was condemned to die after a trial judge had ruled that a prison term was appropriate.

Dec. 22, 1988 – Adamson’s death sentence having been reinstated, it is again overturned by the circuit court.

Nov. 27, 1989 – After a renewed investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, led by investigator George Weisz, James Robison, the Chandler plumber is recharged with the murder of Bolles.

June 25, 1990 – Kemper Marley, Sr., 83, dies of cancer in La Jolla, Calif. In 1976 Bolles had written a series of articles exposing organized crime’s involvement in land fraud. Three men were convicted of Bolles’s murder. The three men were connected with Kemper Marley, Sr., an Arizona liquor wholesaler who was reportedly angered by Bolles’s articles and thought they had cost him a seat on the Arizona Racing Commission. Marley was not charged in Bolles’s murder. Mr. Marley, one of Arizona’s wealthiest men, was the son of an early pioneer family cottonseed oil, produce, a liquor distributorship and cattle and sheep ranches. He also had holdings in Sonora, Mexico, and the Imperial Valley of California, and was a founder of the Farmers and Stockmen’s Bank in Phoenix. (Don Bolles. Bolles wrote extensively about Marley’s lucky past. And about how the Hensleys (Marley’s managers) bought Ruidso Downs racing track in New Mexico. He wrote about Eugene Hensley spending five years in federal prison for a skimming scam. And about the Hensleys selling their track to a buyer linked with Emprise Corp. And about Marley’s liquor ties with Emprise … one of Bolles’ final dispatches appeared as Marley was about to become a member of the Arizona Racing Commission – the agency that regulates racetracks, including those run at the time by Emprise … the story dispatched Marley’s appointment. Two months later, a car bomb killed Bolles.)

June 28, 1990 – The U.S. Supreme Court leaves intact the 1988 appeals court ruling overturning Adamson’s death sentence.

Dec. 19, 1990 – Dunlap is recharged with Bolles’ murder. Dunlap and Robison also are charged with conspiring to obstruct a criminal investigation into the slaying. Adamson agrees to testify against the pair in return for the reinstatement of his 1977 plea bargain and 20-year, two-month prison sentence.

Jan. 11, 1993 – Dunlap and Robison are granted separate trials.

March 22, 1993 -An attorney for Dunlap, John Savoy, is sentenced to two years’ probation on perjury conviction for telling a grand jury he didn’t have any records dating from 1977 related to Dunlap. Prosecutors believed some of the records detailed secret cash payments from Dunlap to the girlfriend of James Robison, the Chandler plumber .

April 20, 1993 – Dunlap is found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiring to obstruct the investigation of the case, and is later sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years.

Dec. 17, 1993 – Robison is acquitted, despite admitting under cross-examination that he asked a fellow jail inmate to arrange for the murder of Adamson, the chief witness against him.

July 26, 1995: Robison, having pleaded guilty to soliciting an act of criminal violence for trying to have Adamson killed, is sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Aug. 12, 1996: Adamson is released from prison and goes into the federal Witness Protection Program, which he will voluntarily leave a few years later.

1998: Robison, 76, is released from prison.

Jan. 28, 1999: Phoenix attorney Neal Roberts dies in poverty at the age of 66 of coronary artery disease, cirrhosis and emphysema. His former secretary says Roberts told her he was involved in the Bolles murder at various levels, but investigators say his statements may have been influenced by his heavy drinking and taste for melodrama.

In a subsequent lawsuit against Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.. an investigative group that was formed after Bolles’s killing, a jury in Phoenix awarded Kemper Marley, Sr., $15,000 for emotional distress resulting from a news article that was written about the slaying. The same jury found that the article, which linked Marley to figures in organized crime, had not libeled him and that his privacy had not been invaded.

Marley was never charged in the case. In 1989, State Attorney General Bob Corbin said new leads indicated that Mr. Marley had no connection to the killing.

Hard Call, Faith of My Fathers, Why Courage Matters, 13 Soldiers


1 Comment »

  1. Comment by baseball91 — November 28, 2014 @ 5:08 PM | Reply

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