News 3 Las Vegas recently took a two-part look at my podcast, Vegas Fed, about the infamous Wynn Kidnapping case.
I’ll let them speak for themselves.
Vegas Fed podcast has received a fantastic review from best selling author Rebecca Forster. I’m flattered and very appreciative.
Glenn Gallo turned me on to this wonderful crime podcast by Tom O’Connell. Part cop, part prosecutor, exquisite storyteller this is Vegas Crime at it’s best and Tom lived it all. #Vegas#crime#SteveWynn#kidnapping. https://www.vegasfed.com
The POP has finished his first podcast. https://www.vegasfed.com
So here are six 30 minute audio episodes about what was – arguably – the “biggest” criminal case, and trial, in Las Vegas history. The kidnapping of casino boss Steve Wynn’s daughter. He paid $1.45 million in ransom for her release.
The case was quite a challenge for a relatively new federal prosecutor – me.
However, I had the advantage of having had worked for a few years with cops in NY who were a lot tougher (and crazier) than most FBI agents. More importantly, I has been one of them myself, briefly (SCPD 3rd. Pct. Squad 12 – 1982-1984).
OK, I don’t like to brag, but in those 2 years I made about 100 arrests, got 5 commendations, was involved – sort of – in a shootout, and was sued for “brutality” by Thomas Ferry, brother of the national president of the Pagans OMG, Paul Ferry (aka “Ooch”).
The legendary Kenny Hamilton and I thereafter nicknamed Thomas “Ouch”.
The podcast is intended to be an inside look at how investigations – particularly local/fed “cooperative” endeavors – proceed.
And of course the backdrop is Las Vegas – Sin City – the Strip.
So, here is a memoir of a big time case in Las Vegas, ramrodded by the humble former 321 footman, who managed to get into all kinds of hijinks thanks to the cops he worked with – and loved – in the early 1980’s, and thereafter as an ADA.
Enjoy some Las Vegas history, and share if you think the effort worthy.
See Las Vegas Channel 8 I-Team video: Glen Meek pursues Ray Cuddy: Cuddy Pursued by Meek
This case was truly one for the books. My objective here is to merely introduce it. It would take 500 pages to recount all the ins and outs, personal turmoil, near -misses, and almost unbearable (at times) pressure.
I really don’t know where to begin. So the beginning will have to suffice:
When you show up for work and the receptionist indicates that the U.S. Attorney wants to see you immediately, you get curious. When you knock on his door and are summoned to take a seat, and he stares to you solemnly, your wheels start turning.
And when he announces, “I am about to assign you a career case.” I guess your ass puckers. Just a little, anyway.
So Steve Wynn’s daughter has been kidnapped. He has paid a million and a half dollars – from his Mirage casino cage – to the kidnappers. He now has her back, safely, and didn’t bother to tell the authorities until it was all over.
This guy was arguably the most important and powerful man in Las Vegas in 1993. I had been an AUSA – some ex-line DA from NY – for about 2 years. And I’m in charge. There’s a meeting at the “Command Post” at Las Vegas Metro Police HQ at 3:00 p.m. – I am to attend. “We” – the U.S. Attorney’s Office – will be running the case. Meaning me. They don’t teach this stuff in law school, or the Police Academy. Is this my “big break’, a path to success – or a disaster which will inevitably result in an abysmal failure?
Here’e a clue: at this moment, there are NO leads. ZERO. The money and the crooks have vanished.
There was so much public scrutiny, so many agencies striving for public attention, so many individuals looking to further their careers. I spent almost as much time refereeing mini-insurections within and among agencies as I did doing my job – directing a MAJOR investigation.
Nearly everyone involved had something to say. Except when it came to making a critical call – one that might make or break the case. Then it was “ Well, you’re the lawyer.” (Even though some of the agents actually were attorneys as well.) Success has a thousand fathers; failure is an orphan.
An interesting dynamic among agencies – and this is more than a truism: there is constant competition, and often animosity. And the truth is, the primary target are the “elites”. The Ultimate PR organization founded by J. Edgar Hoover himself – the Feebs, the Feeble Ones – the FBI.
My first day in a patrol car as a rookie cop, my FTO rolled down his window and flipped a nondescript office building the bird. When I asked what they was all about he relied simply “Oh that’s the FBI’s off-site”. I had heard the same type of things from my father, NYPD. “We catch the bank robber, then the Federal suits show up for the photo-op wearing their hats.” The cops despised them. So did the other agencies.And although this was the 1980s, not the 1950s, not much had changed.
Having said that, there are obviously some great FBI agents, and some shitty agents from other agencies. But throughout my experiences, this is fact: the best agents, and particularly the best FBI agents, are former cops.
So off we went into the great Unknown. A fairly new AUSA trying to reign in hundreds of egos for the sake off the mission. I could not have done it but for my own confidence, derived from my experience as a cop as well as significant trial experience at the state level; and my attitude, which included no interest in making friends. J. Edgar Hoover was gone. I was no cheerleader. I left my pom-poms home. Job 1 was not PR – it was the case – no matter who was going to get the lion’s share of credit. If it went bad, it was clear who was going to shoulder the blame – me.
The voluminous facts of the investigation,the pre-trial hearings, the trial itself, the sentencings, the appeals – are for some other venue.
But I digress. Today’s point is as follows: Ray Cuddy, the designer of the scheme, the man who had declined an offer of 12 years – extended in large part to spare Kevyn Wynn and her family the circus of a trial which would compel her to relive her ordeal – including certain facts I had intentionally not made public. He was convicted and did his 22+ years. And to further add to his victims’ misery, he’s decided to reside in Vegas. where he publicly tools around on a 2004 Harley. And so the drama orchestrated by Ray Cuddy continues.