jimmy chagra daughters
For some unexplained reason, the three assailants (apparently there was a third behind the wheel) raced from the scene without bothering to walk five or six feet and make sure that Kerr was dead. Chagra used one of his trademarks, a solid-gold retractable pointer, to demonstrate his case. 3.9 on Goodreads. , Chagra's downfall began in February 1979 when he was arrested on trafficking charges. Lee didnt protest as Clark led him out of the casino to the waiting limousine.  Joe Chagra served six and a half years in prison (of his ten-year sentence) and was released. A ton of marijuana is no better or worse than a ton of quicksilver. Chagra was also a heavy gambler in Las Vegas, Nevada, and attracted attention with his flamboyant ways. These people used to steal, a Mexican policeman told the Associated Press recently, but there is more money in contraband. The Chagras were fiercely proud people, a handsome, hardy, beguiling line of Lebanese merchants and vendors who migrated near the turn of the century to Mexico and then to El Paso. Ten smugglers, two airplanes, and four U-Haul trucks had been seized in the predawn trap. He had started using cocaine some months earlier, and now he was using it daily. Do you love me, do you love me? He knew the answer, but he had to hear it again.  His drug case went to trial and Chagra was found guilty in August 1979 and sentenced to 30 years. Lees younger brother Jimmy, who grew up hustling and hanging out with some of Lees more prosperous clients, wanted nothing more than to be recognized as Mr. Big. Something about a will, about some large estate in California? I feel that it has all been terribly twisted. Then Wood was assassinated, leading to a massive manhunt, and Chagra was tried and convicted before another judge on charges of operating a continuing criminal enterprise. He was widely believed to have been placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program. During his tenure as magistrate, Boyd and Lee Chagra became friends, and when there was an opening for the job of U.S. attorney after Jimmy Carters election in 1976, Lee, Sib Abraham, and others supported Boyds appointment. Hed brought corsages for all the women on the staff. Through it all, he had somehow clung to the central fact in his life: Lee Chagra was a topflight criminal attorney. If he refused, they would see that he was reindicted under the kingpin act and sent away for life without parole. But lately Lee was taking new directions. Jimmy became involved in marijuana trafficking, with ties to a New England crime organization. Chagra attempted to bribe Judge Wood for "$5 million or 10million". Jimmy had ruined it.  Their family name was historically "Bushaada", but Jimmy's grandfather changed it. The model just had the bare branches., Catherine Chagra's 2015 book. Oscar Goodman and Joe Chagra were Jimmys attorneys. Kay McCulloch died, and with her death the raw material for the book went to the attic. The door was partially open, but the office appeared empty. Lee always suffered shamelessly when he was down and Jimmy was up, but this was different. All shed ever had was a future somewhat less than promising. While federal agents snapped photographs from the parking lot across the street, hundreds of mourners jammed St. Patricks. Her mom and sisters left witness protection and moved to Buda to be near Bastrop, where her father was being held. Jack Stricklin met him at the airport and drove him to the office. Chagra's lawyer in the case was Oscar Goodman, future Mayor of Las Vegas and prosecutors included Assistant United States Attorney Sidney Powell. It was that strange hour when the golfers are still on their morning rounds and the drunks are still asleep, that time when they clean the sand in the ashtrays and empty the slots and put fresh ice in the urinals. Now it was the judge who was having difficulty. He couldnt have flushed it down the toilet faster than the way he gambled it and lost it, she said. Wallace was sentenced to death, though this was later reduced to life in prison. , Prior to his arrest, he accumulated approximately $100 million in various bank accounts, today amounting to about $500 million. For the time being, the Jerry Johnson episode played itself out in obscurity, but the Chagra name burst into the headlines in the opening days of 1977. The defendant was one Melchor de los Santos, who was caught with 262 grams of heroin; since the going rate was $30 a gram, it was a fairly substantial bust for the times. 2023 www.statesman.com. They say Jimmy lacked ambition. Lee had been in Tucson trying a case for most of the past two weeks, and when the Friday night plane began its approach over the Upper Valley and through the Pass, he caught a glimpse of the lighted Christmas star on the slopes of Mount Franklin. Joe Chagra also went to prison for his role in the assassination.  However, his sister Patsy stated that he was not in the witness protection program at the time of his death. I have not seen anything that would actually disqualify me from trying this case. Eventually Wood agreed to give Lee a copy of the Johnson interview but refusing to remove himself from the Stricklin case as Chagra requested. The office was a maelstrom of activity, none of it having anything to do with the practice of law. The story surrounding the assassination of Judge Wood was profiled in an episode of City Confidential. With the pointer fully retracted, Lee approached the jury box, smiling. Id lay next to him and stroke his arm and hed say, Baby, I think I might go to hell. He didnt apologize for anything; he just said, I think Im going to hell. I said, You just have to ask God to forgive you, Daddy. I dont think he felt bad about the crimes. Out of the corner of his eye Lee could see the reporters scribbling furiously. She still has paintings he made while locked up, a hobby he never resumed after getting a medical parole in December 2003. The documents revealed that hardly a week passed without some agents making inquiries into Lee Chagras private life. Ill drive you home, he said in a low voice. Whats it all for? he said out loud, and Vivian could see the tears in his eyes and hear the catch in his voice. He had two brothers, Lee and Joseph, who were both attorneys involved with the legal defense of drug smugglers. Mom would be returning from mass just about now, walking toward Lees office, unaware that anything had happened. He spent more than 35 years defending some of the most notorious alleged Mob figures, including Meyer Lansky, Frank Rosenthal, Anthony Spilotro and Jimmy Chagra. When an average high-stakes player sits down at one of the seven places around a blackjack table, his limit might be as high as $1000 a hand. Since he was not technically involved in the murder, Esper escaped with a relatively light sentence of fifteen years. On the morning of the day Lee was murdered, his bookkeeper, Donna Johnson, arrived at the office about ten oclock. Jimmy was born four years later, and they soon nicknamed him Little Mischief. The case had been dead for two years, but Kerr had a plan. Wallace confessed that he had taken part in the burglary attempt on Mickey Espers office and also the attempt to rob the poker game at Jimmy Salomes house. Although Jo Annie appeared at the federal courthouse with $50,000 in bail money, Lee was obliged to spend the night with Georgie Taylor, Jack Stricklin, and virtually the entire hierarchy of El Paso drug trafficking. Lee left the money spread across the bed and closed the bedroom door behind him. WebAfter Joe was killed, the bad publicity inevitably returned, so Patty took their daughter, Samantha, a seventeen-year-old high school honor student, to all the television stations in It was almost midnight when the Black Striker made his appearance on the casino floor. Im gonna take the joint apart., Caesars Palace dispatched a Learjet, and in less than two hours a limousine deposited them at the casino door. Vivian remembered the previous Saturday at his office; shes heard murmurs from the staff as she followed him upstairs. Some speculated that they omitted Lee Chagra because he was from El Paso and had a Spanish surname. From Kilcreases files, Kerr concluded that all the elements needed to satisfy the kingpin law were amply presentmany separate transactions and many people, most of whom worked for Stricklin. But Jimmy took most of the credit. It was an incredible sight. It appeared to be a clear example of double jeopardysame events, same evidence, same witnesses. Some people though Lee Chagra didnt know how to quit, but that wasnt quite true. Lee kept detailed records of gambling transactions, but no one else had any concept of home much he bet or with how many different bookies. It wasnt the cocaine so much as the lifestyle it symbolized. Patsy Chagras husband, Rick De La Torre, faced four charges in the same conspiracy. He was wearing his boots and jeans and enough jewelry to sink a deep-sea diver. As the feds worked around the clock to build cases against both Chagras, an agent provocateur came forward with information that could potentially put both of them away for life. This other end represents guilty beyond a reasonable doubt: the government proved its case, and you, the jury, are convinced beyond a moral certainty. Lee held the members of the panel with his eyes, pausing for a few seconds so it could all register. To mark the 40th anniversary of the trial of drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, who was accused of paying a hitman $250,000 to kill a federal judge John Wood, Oscar The old man, who was a dead ringer for Pancho Villa, was imprisoned and almost shot before he and his family could escape across the border into El Paso. The investigation cost more than $11 million. That was it, the last of the half-million the Black Striker had blown in Vegas the year before. As Boyd must have realized, Kerr and Lee Chagra were natural enemies. Jimmy would tip the hotel staff like a salesman with an end-of-the-month goal handing out business cards. On top of everything else, he had developed hemorrhoids and they hurt like hell. The consensus had always been that Jimmy Chagra would never amount to much. In 1995, he appeared as himself in the movie, Casino.. After a while Clark said, You must have dropped close to half a million back there. Lees limit was $3000, and he would have played for $10,000 had Caesars Palace allowed it. One client who occupied a good deal of Lees time during the autumn of 1976 was Jerry Edwin Johnson, a local con man and admitted drug smuggler accused of masterminding a scheme to defraud the IRS of a quarter of a million dollars. The family had a late dinner. He still had $150,000 credit, but that night he went through another $70,000. That night as he was dressing, Lee announced intentions to change his luck. Emily McCullar is a senior editor covering pop culture, news, and Texas history. In broken white letters, like shards of milk glass on velvet, it said FREEDOM. Chagra and his wife, Liz, and young daughter relocated to Las Vegas in 1978 and moved into a house across the street from attorney Oscar Goodman. shaggy shag,' and he would gamble up to a million dollars," said Wood was apparently confusing the fifty-page transcript of the secret interview with actual grand jury testimony. Youve got it wrong, Lee replied. Lee had always been our strength., Lee couldnt shake the feeling that something or someone was stalking him. Gentlemen, he told the other players, this table is now reserved for a private game. His staff had completed the move while he was in Tucson, and in the morning he would officially take possession: it would be his first day there and, as fate decreed, his last. He knew how to quit while he was winning. Donna had never seen him before, but Lee said that he was expecting the man and pressed the electronic button to admit him. Wood was finally convinced that it was his duty. If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Worse than 1973, the year the federal government indicted him on a trumped-up marijuana trafficking charge in Nashville and nearly destroyed his law practice. I waited around to wish you and the kids a merry Christmas, the gambler told her. Until now the media had treated the charges against Stricklin as routine news, but Woods ruling added a bizarre new twist. The judge was a member of every exclusive club in San AntonioSons of the Republic of Texas, Sons of the American Revolution, Texas Cavaliers, Argyle Club, San Antonio Club, Order of the Alamo, San Antonio Gun Club, German Club, American Legion, San Antonio Country Cluband owned property in the segregated Key Allegro resort on the Texas coastthe list went on and on. It took almost a year for all the money to work its way back to Jimmy and his partners. Boyd had never been regarded as a crusader, but one exception was his views on gamblinghe hated gamblers. In a short time the bust was being described as the biggest one in El Paso history. His idea of a good time was going home to his wife and newborn son, Joseph, maybe tinkering with his stereo or waxing his speedboat, swimming or lifting weights. As Lee reached for the dice, he recited a spiel that was also part of his ritual. The attempt on Kerrs life unleashed the most sweeping drug investigation in the history of the Southwest. Despite the differences in background and age (Stricklin was almost ten years younger), Chagra and Stricklin became more than lawyer and client; they became close friends. On the plane from Tucson, Lee must have reflected on the paradox of his life. Lee developed a standard ploy he secretly taped the conversation, then gave the agent the phone number of the real Mr. Big. It was the unlisted number of the local DEA chief. There's no way a bullet could have gone through there. In secret interviews Wallace as singing like a drunken angel. Lee wanted to be head of the family, and Jimmy was constantly jealous of Lee because he stole the glory that Jimmy wanted. Jimmy had given her a couple of kids and a lasting pain in the ass. The fact that Lee Chagra was the lead attorney automatically made the case big-time. Hardly anyone wanted a lawyer who was under indictment, recalled Joe Chagra, Lees youngest brother, who by then had joined the law firm. Before the case could be brought to trial, however, Jimmy eclipsed his brother in the headlines with a new and even more spectacular exploit. It was in his blood. Jimmy had chartered a jet and attempted to rescue an El Paso pilot who had been badly burned when a DC-6 crashed on takeoff at an improvised field near Santa Marta, Colombia. I think he was sad about what he did to his kids. Lee didnt appear to like Lou Esper, but he was one of the few people in town who tolerated him. I knew he would take a hard look at narcotics and organized crime.. Hughes, who assisted in the defense, thought that Lee won in his opening remarks to the jury. I though maybe I was the Jonah, he said. In prison, Jimmy would say he got hooked on gambling faster than heroin.. Clark Hughes went ahead to the casino to lose my piddling three or four hundred. He never knew why Lee liked to bring him along, but he seldom refused. He named two of his chows Kilo and Poker., Look how sweet and dorky and innocent I look, Catherine Chagra said. An electronic current unbolted the door. It looked as though he was set for the night. He called her into the bedroom. In the winter. The verdict in the Tucson trial had been sublime: in a highly publicized, multicount bank fraud indictment, Lee had walked his man on every count. , Jimmy Chagra died of cancer on July 25, 2008. A big blob of fat came pouring out, she remembered. The next morning, a Saturday, was one of those perfect December days in El Paso when the desert air is so crisp you can hear it and the mountains loom out of the blue shadows and change colors before your eyes. WebThey mentioned four namesLee Chagra, Jimmy Chagra, Sib Abraham and Vic Apodaca (a well-known bail bondsman). Over the next year Lee had only a handful of cases. He wanted to dress the way Lee dressed, in fine clothes and jewelry, and he wanted to hear whispers of respect when he walked into a room and silence when he told a story. He got 30 years. Chagras defense accused the feds of venue-shopping so that their client was almost sure to get life.  He had dealings with the Patriarca crime family and Joseph Bonanno, the retired head of the Bonanno crime family. He had $250,000 credit. For all the smoke generated by James Kerrs highly publicized grand jury probe of organized crime, there was hardly any fire. Early in the fall someone had broken into Mickey Espers law offices and attempted to haul off a safe. I cant practice in front of you, and I dont think you can honestly say that you can treat me or my client fairly in any court, Chagra told Wood. He asked Bobby Yoseph, a young lawyer who had recently joined his staff, what he would do if he came in and found the office had been robbed? Im the eagle! But Sandy noticed there were tears in his eyes. Lee adopted a wardrobe suitable to his imagea black cowboy hat, fancy handmade boots, and an assortment of expensive jewelry, including a gold bracelet that spelled the word freedom. Stricklin hadnt yet met Lee Chagra, but he knew Chagras reputation. That was when Jo Annie remembered the telephone call. A black banner was stretched across the entire front of the building. When Lou Esper learned that Lee was a cocaine user, he found a good supply and usually delivered the goods in person. At this point in his life Lee was bored with the tame pace of the blackjack table. Lee had wanted to be a lawyer, and so, after some convincing, had the youngest of the boys, Joe. Uncle Lou, who had recently been paroled in California, had a drug habit of long standing. All have, understandably, complicated feelings about their father. Chagra had little use for public servants, especially prosecutors, and Kerr was a classic bureaucrat, squeaking with authority and wedded to the book. When Joe and Lee had drawn up their partnership, the arrangement was that they would share all revenues and losses, but Joe hadnt counted on sharing Lees gambling losses. The next morning FBI agents called on Lee Chagra, confiscated his gun collection, and asked him to take a lie detector test. He once sentenced a dope dealer to 35 years for contempt of court. He said he would meet her at home in a couple of hours. Lee didnt seem at all depressed, said Donna Johnson, the law firms bookkeeper. His great-grandfather had come from New York and fought in the Texas Revolution. Push a button and curtains would reveal a huge projector TV. Lee gave Jack Stricklin, now out of prison, $1000 and passed out lesser amounts to other old friends. A rigorous and lengthy investigation into the murder brought Jimmy Chagra front and center. The family posted a $25,000 reward and announced that the freedom banner would hang until the killers were caught and the case was closed. It must have been nearly three-thirty by then. By the time the jury began its deliberation, it was obvious that the best the prosecution could expect was a tie. , Chagra's drug dealings came under close scrutiny by law enforcement and the judicial system. Florida Police Officer Treated After Being Exposed To Fentanyl During Stop, Youth Pot Abuse Jumps By 245% In Two Decades: Researchers, 'Cocaine' Cassie debuts new tattoo sleeve in racy photo as glamorous drug smuggler sets return to Australia. A book signing of Lees vial of cocaine was open on the corner of his desk. Whats more, Kerr and Wood and the entire apparatus of the federal government were breathing down his neck. A further indignation: The witness protection program first exiled them to Omaha, Neb. The weapons existed only in the agents imagination, but at one point the trap got so bizarre that the poor cafe owner believed he was negotiating for a used submarine. Jimmy knelt beside the bag that now contained the remains of his brother and started bawling. Sometimes Jimmy pretended he was Lee, signing his name Lee Chagra and repeating Lees stories as though they had happened to him. His dislike for narcotic cops, particularly agents provocateurs, had been stoked to a white-hot hatred that nearly consumed both his private and his professional life. 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