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Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet — on our you can pledge any amount per episode, and all contributions are greatly appreciated.
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Unfortunately for Birges, however, the bomb was safely detonated while he was waiting habbo casinos are back his payment.
What we know about it afterwards is that it virtually was undefeatable.
When the device did detonate as designed when the attempt was made to render it safe, it exploded as intended and we had terrific damage in that building.
But fortunately no one was injured because there was time for evacuation.
Most of montréal emplois casino people that we brought to bear to investigate this, myself included, had considerable experience with bombings and post-blast investigations, but nothing of this size.
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It is full of TNT.
It is our advice to cordon off a minimum of twelve hundred feet radius and remove all people from that area.
DEMANDS: We demand three million dollars in used one hundred dollar bills.
They must be unmarked, unbugged and chemically untreated.
If we find anything wrong with the money we will stop all instructions for moving the bomb.
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Before the pilot enters the helicopter he has to take a strong flashlight and shine it around the inside of the helicopter so that it will light up the entire inside.
We must be able to see it from a distance with binoculars.
We want to be able to see everything that is inside the helicopter so that we can be sure there is no one hiding inside and that there is no contraband inside.
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Any deviation from these conditions will leave your casino in a shambles.
Also remember that even a very small earthquake will detonate the bomb so do not try to delay the delivery of the money.
He must be unarmed and unbugged.
We do not want any misunderstanding which might cause us to have to take lives unnecessarily.
All channels from 11.
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They perform their duty for reward.
If the instructions are violated in any way by any authority the secret of the handling of the bomb will definitely not be revealed.
If the money is received without any problems six sets of instructions regarding the removal of the bomb will be given to you at different times.
The pilot will receive the first set of instructions.
He can carry it back with him.
If the money is sold to the buyer without complications you may receive the remaining five sets of instructions one by one via the Kingsbury Post Office by general delivery, or you may receive them all at once.
The extent of your co-operation will make the difference.
If you co-operate fully it will insure a very speedy exchange.
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Demands are firm regardless.
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We have the ways and means to get another bomb in.
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Do not come armed with any weapon.
Do not bring a shot-gun rider.
All radio channels will be monitored.
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Follow the orders strictly.
You will make five stops, none of which will be at an airfield.
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All sites are fairly level.
One has about two degrees pitch.
There will be a clearance of more than two hundred feet radius.

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26, 1980, a Nevada casino discovered a gigantic bomb—and a ransom. the graveyard shift at Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino in Stateline,.


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Some kind casino bomb threat prompted an evacuation at the JACK Casino and Public Square in Cleveland early Friday morning.
CLEVELAND — A bomb threat prompted an evacuation at the JACK Casino and Public Square in Cleveland early Friday morning.
RTA buses were brought in as warming shelters for employees while Cleveland police worked the scene.
Dave Hatala Employees wait outside harrahs cherokee concerts Jack Casino after it was evacuated Friday morning due to a threat.
A patron who was inside the casino when it was evacuated said they were in the poker room when everything went down.
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I was in the poker room and they made everyone leave casino bomb chips on the table and go to the nearest exit.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Retired Special Agent Chris Ronay describes the FBI's role in the investigation of an "undefeatable" 1000-pound bomb at a Nevada casino in ...


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Wednesday, August 27, 1980.
The helicopter thundered over the darkened forest, heading west, rising into the mountains beneath an almost full moon.
Even for FBI special casino bomb Dell Rowley, a slight five foot nine, the narrow cargo space behind the two front seats was a tight fit.
The helmet and Kevlar vest he wore over his black fatigues, and the weapons he carried, did not make it any more comfortable.
But the pilot was supposed to be alone, so Rowley had to stay where he was.
No weapons, no one riding shotgun.
The first note had concluded with an ironic flourish.
But the FBI agents had no patience for such arrangements.
They knew that the money drop was the weak point in any extortion attempt.
In his head was a simple plan.
As the skids of the Bell Ranger touched down on the mountainside, the pilot would douse the lights and kick open the door, and Rowley would roll unseen to the ground.
He would scuttle into the trees, switch on his night-vision goggles, and locate the extortionists.
please click for source, if necessary, he would kill them.
Then he rang it again, and again.
On the fifth ring, Johnny Birges reluctantly opened the door.
He liked weed, beer, girls, and the Stones.
Now he shared a place with two friends from school, made good money working as a roofer, and grew a little pot on the side.
He sold some and smoked the rest.
A diligent anthropologist seeking the embodiment of a certain kind of California lifestyle at the end of the 1970s would be hard-pressed to find one more potent than Johnny Birges.
He was blond and tan—the result of nailing shingles six days a week in the fierce Central Valley sun—with narrow green eyes, a wispy mustache, and shaggy hair down to his shoulders.
He moved his tools from job to job in the back of his snub-nosed Dodge Tradesman cargo van, which on Saturday nights he still used to take his bike to races.
The van was plain white, but Johnny had fitted it with mag wheels and wide tires.
As smart and composed as his brother was hazy and unkempt, Jimmy Birges was 18 but skinnier and taller than Johnny, and a student in a high school program for gifted kids.
He had grown his dark hair long, too, but it was neatly parted in the middle, and he favored button-down shirts and Top-Siders.
He had a smooth charm, which he would later put to use as a car salesman at Fresno Toyota.
The stoner and the straight arrow were predictably at odds.
The two boys had barely seen each other in three years.
Johnny hated his father but still yearned for his approval.
He waved Jimmy into the house, where he was cooking breakfast for his girlfriend, Kelli Cooper.
Then Jimmy told his brother what their father had in mind.
The two boys had a good laugh about that.
It would never happen.
Janos Birges arrived in the United States in May 1957 a penniless 35-year-old political refugee.
He was dark and handsome then, with an intense gaze, a high forehead, and an aquiline nose; beneath his shirt, a tattooed eagle spread its wings across his chest.
But his father was a ferocious drinker and hated having the boy around.
He sent Janos to live with his grandparents at the age of three, and Janos spent nine happy years with them.
In 1933, they sent him back, and several years later, at 15, Janos ran away for good.
He went to Budapest, where he was taken in by a butcher and his family.
The stories he told his sons about what happened next are hard to verify.
He was always secretive about his past, and the boys never asked too many questions.
Knowledge is power, he often said; the more people know about you, the weaker you are.
But the account he gave them was by no means unlikely.
Then, in 1941, Hungary entered World War II on the German side and sent troops to support the invasion of Russia.
That was the year Janos enrolled in the Royal Hungarian Air Force Military Academy.
By the time he graduated and entered the Royal Hungarian Army Air Force as a pilot, in 1944, the tide of the war had turned: The Nazis had formally occupied Hungary, and the Red Army was approaching its eastern borders.
Janos was put at the controls of an Me 109 fighter plane and sent up to fight the Russians.
He liked to tell his son that he shot down 13 Allied planes before being hit by anti-aircraft fire over Italy and captured by Allied troops.
He was charged with disobeying orders but escaped; he was arrested again in 1946, by Hungarian military authorities, but released without charge.
Hungary was now entirely under the control of the Soviet Union.
It was around this time, Birges would later claim, that he began working for U.
But in April 1948, he was arrested by Soviet secret police in Hungary and charged with espionage.
The trial lasted seven minutes.
He was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor and sent to a gulag in Siberia.
He spent almost eight years there, cutting down trees to make railroad ties and twice contracting jaundice, before he was released—at the same time as thousands of Axis prisoners of war were repatriated from captivity in the Soviet Union—and finally returned to Hungary.
Then, one night in 1955, he met Elizabet Nyul in a Jåszberény restaurant.
A petite 27-year-old with an elfin face and brooding eyes, she was waiting for her husband, who worked there as a waiter.
Janos invited her to dance.
They danced together twice, and casino bomb asked her to marry him.
Elizabet was the second-youngest of a dozen siblings, impulsive and headstrong.
The divorce came through quickly and, in January 1956, Elizabet and Janos were married.
The early days of the marriage were a brief period of tranquility for Birges.
Less than a year later, the Soviet Union moved to suppress the revolution in Budapest, and Janos and Elizabet found themselves among the 200,000 refugees who fled the Soviet crackdown, which left 2,500 Hungarians dead.
Released and provided with a passport by a sympathetic Soviet officer, he and Elizabet escaped into Austria.
There, Janos worked as a German-Hungarian interpreter for the Red Cross, until, months later, he was granted political asylum in the United States.
At first, the new eagle river casino new of John and Elizabeth followed the steep trajectory of immigrant cliché.
His new wife wanted sunglasses, so they spent all the money buying a pair.
They made their way to California and got work on a farm, John as a carpenter and Elizabeth in the packing house.
Later, John found work with the metal-fabrication company PDM Steel.
He spent five years there, learning welding and pipefitting.
Johnny was born in 1960, Jimmy in 1962.
He worked around the clock seven days a week and never took a vacation.
He dressed in work clothes or outfits from the Salvation Army.
He was non-union, and a fighter.
Johnny once saw him put two men down at once.
He was five-eleven, fit and powerful, and an imposing presence; other men were afraid of him.
He could be charming, but his sense of humor was sometimes cruel.
He was often reckless, inclined to cut corners.
Years of blasting wells and trenches out of the California hardpan had made him pretty comfortable around dynamite.
By 1972, Big John was a millionaire, with three separate businesses, 26 employees, and lucrative contracts with Https://juegoenelmundo.com/casino/plastic-casino-cards.html municipalities and golf courses.
He bought three Mercedeses and, when he lost his license after picking up one too many tickets for speeding, his own plane, a Beechcraft.
He used it to fly to job sites and liked to pull terrifying low-altitude stunts, sometimes with his sons on board: buzzing water-skiers on a lake to watch them scatter or flying under a freeway overpass.
Elizabeth handled the accounts, and eventually Big John bought her a business she could call her own, a restaurant.
The Villa Basque, on North Blackstone in Fresno, had two candlelit dining rooms with red-and-white tablecloths and a banquet hall, and it was packed every night with families attacking a ten-course prix fixe menu few of them could finish.
At home, Big John was a tinkerer and a would-be inventor, always soldering and wiring.
When the family moved to a modest wood-framed ranch house on the rural outskirts of Clovis, with 15 acres of vineyards, he set up a large workshop out back.
His share harrahs cherokee casino human resources with could be inspired, but he often lacked the patience for details and was unlucky with those he did perfect.
The labor-saving meatball-making gizmo he built for the Villa Basque never worked quite right; he built his own electric irrigation timer, and developed an automated ditchdigger for laying pipes more quickly, but was beaten to the patents by other inventors.
And money did not make Big John and Elizabeth happy.
They drank and fought, and he suspected her of having affairs.
He called her a nymphomaniac and claimed she used the restaurant as a wellspring of sexual encounters.
She took to disappearing for days at a time; he always brought her back.
Once, they argued so furiously that she fell to the kitchen floor and had a seizure right in front of him.
Johnny and Jimmy enjoyed the trappings of a comfortable life.
Their parents bought them motorbikes, go-karts, and three-wheelers with balloon tires.
Elizabeth liked to dress them in identical outfits.
One summer she took them on a road trip across Europe.
But Big John made them work nights in the restaurant and summers for the landscaping business.
The only haircuts they were given came once a year, at the start of summer vacation, when Big John would take a pair of clippers and shave their heads.
Their scalps would blister as they dug ditches in the searing valley heat.
Big John also beat them relentlessly—with belts, electric cables, boots, and coat hangers.
At night he would come into their room, pull back the covers, and whale on Johnny while Jimmy lay mute and motionless in bed.
When Jimmy was six, his father caught him with his elbow on the table at dinner and punched out four of his teeth to teach him better manners.
Johnny hated school, and in first or second grade he was caught jamming glue and toothpicks into the locks so no one could open the doors.
At 12, he began drinking beer; he smoked pot for the first time two years later.
Johnny tormented his younger brother, and Jimmy would run to his mother and father.
When Elizabeth finally filed for divorce, in November 1973, she moved into a travel trailer behind the house, where she could keep an eye on her sons.
By that time Big John was making plans to retire, and he sold off the landscaping business to his foreman.
He began flying up to Lake Tahoe in his plane to gamble.
Elizabeth had a boyfriend, but the arguments and her disappearances continued.
At the end of July 1975, Elizabeth vanished again.
This time she left behind her Mazda pickup, parked outside the kitchen door with the keys just click for source the ignition, her pocketbook on the passenger seat.
Three days later, her body was found in a field behind the house.
An autopsy showed a lethal combination of alcohol and Valium in her bloodstream; she had choked on her own vomit.
The coroner ruled it a suicide, but something never seemed quite right about that.
Her stomach was full of whiskey.
Jimmy knew that she only ever drank vodka.
And they never found the bottle.
Big John changed after Elizabeth died.
Not long after the funeral, he went around the house cutting her out of the family photographs with a pair of scissors.
He took the urn that held her ashes and emptied it in the yard, in front of his sons.
He began spending money like never before.
He started dressing well for the first time in his life, in suits and turtlenecks.
He wore a pencil moustache, drank mai tais, and dated the waitresses at the Villa Basque.
And he began gambling more heavily in the casinos up in Lake Tahoe.
Harvey Gross was a wholesale butcher from Sacramento who first arrived in Stateline in 1937, when the place was a handful of buildings without power, water, or telephone lines.
What it did have was recently legalized gambling.
In 1944, Gross and his wife, Llewellyn, opened the Wagon Wheel Saloon and Gambling Hall, a single-room casino with three slot machines, two blackjack tables, and a six-stool lunch counter.
The Wagon Wheel sat hard against the Nevada border, which cut east-west across Highway 50, dividing Stateline from the California town of South Lake Tahoe.
Outside the casino was the only 24-hour gas pump for 60 miles.
Business was strictly seasonal.
In the winter, when snow fell on the pass at Echo Summit, blocking the highway west to Sacramento, the place would be closed for months at a time.
Only after Gross went up there and helped clear the pass himself one winter did the state finally build a maintenance station to keep it open.
By the 1950s, the Wagon Wheel was attracting a fashionable, wealthy crowd up from Sacramento and San Francisco every summer, and Gross had found a local rival in Bill Harrah, who had opened his own casino directly across the street.
In 1963, Gross redeveloped his place into the first modern high-rise hotel casino on the South Shore, a concrete monolith with 11 stories, 197 rooms, and new casino supermarket nice and name up on the roof, curling across a giant wagon wheel and longhorn skull in red neon.
But after Llewellyn died unexpectedly, in 1964, he began to withdraw from the garrulous front-of-house role she had created for them.
He still liked to walk the floor of the casino and oversaw the major decisions himself.
But he spent more and more time on his ranch over the mountain in the Carson Valley or at his winter place in Indian Wells, California.
But Gross still had his giant highway billboards, his multistory gaming floor, his miniskirted cocktail waitresses delivering cheap drinks.
Like all gambling towns, Stateline was a magnet for crime, and Bill Jonkey, one of the two agents in the FBI office in nearby Carson City, was a frequent visitor.
In 1980, Jonkey was 35 years old, a burly outdoorsman with a thick mustache and the easy confidence of a movie cowboy.
He had been in the FBI for nine years and law enforcement for most of his life.
Born and raised in Glendale, California, he was a surfer who had traded his longboard for a badge before he had even graduated college.
As a 21 -year-old officer for the Long Beach Police Department, he patrolled downtown and the west side: the docks and the port, the sailors and the riffraff.
Getting into fights was a good education.
Being a cop gave Jonkey a deferment from the draft, but he volunteered all the same.
Things were heating up in Vietnam, and he hated to see a war go by and not get involved.
His quarantine was almost up when he got shot.
He and his partner were just heading out for night patrol when the call came in: a 211 silent at the Daisy Bar—a dirtbag place, only four link five blocks away.
The guy came running out of the back with a gun in his hand, then everyone started shooting.
One round hit Jonkey in the chest, knocked him back against the wall.
Jonkey had three rounds left.
He fired them all.
The guy died right there.
They gave him a medal for that.
He was off duty for three and a half months.
The bullet had punctured every lobe of his right lung, broken a rib, severed an artery, and finally lodged near his spine.
When he came around after the surgery, his wife was standing by the bed.
The FBI took him in 1971.
At first he was assigned to the Denver office, then Vegas, where he immediately started making plans to get up to the resident agency in Carson City.
It was a small office, with only two agents, and most of the time you worked alone.
He went to work in jeans and cowboy boots, had a horse and an acre of land.
The place was perfect.
His jurisdiction included the gambling towns around Lake Tahoe, which kept him pretty busy: tracking fugitives, handling some organized crime, the odd phony check.
The extortion calls came in once or twice a year.
A pipe bomb, a paper bag left between two slot machines.
Some wires, no explosives: bullshit stuff.
The guy would call back and say, Did you find it?
The feds always got them at the money drop.
Jonkey and the other agents would stake out the location in advance.
Once, they drove out to the desert and spent three days disguised as hunters—camping gear, rifles, dead rabbits, beer—before they saw a guy come sauntering up the track texas holdem rules casino for the old water heater where the money was supposed to be hidden.
Another time, the drop was in a trash can down on the Tahoe shore, miles from anywhere.
At ten at night, two men came out of the lake in diving gear.
They thought that was pretty clever.
The agents got them just like they got everyone else.
They could make the plans as complicated as they liked, but in the end they always had to come for the money.
They treated him the way he felt he deserved to be treated: as if he was someone.
Blackjack was his game, and pretty soon he was playing often enough that he was regarded as a high roller.
He got to know his way around the place, befriended the casino cruise goa />Over there you could hunt pheasant and partridge, walk in the hills.
When the pilot heard Big John was a flier, he let him take the controls for a while.
Big John had never flown a helicopter before but took to it quickly; hovering was tricky, but level flight was simple.
The pilot let him try a takeoff.
Big John began spending more and more of his time in Tahoe.
The boys were left to look after themselves back at the house in Clovis.
The groceries filled the shelves in the garage, floor to ceiling, 20 feet wide and two feet deep.
Next came meat and seafood: 2,100 pounds of beef—three whole steers—plus four lambs, pork, lobster, ham, and 200 pounds of hot dogs.
Big John stacked all of it in the walk-in freezer at the back of the house and told the boys they had enough food to keep them going for three years.
Then he took off to gamble in Tahoe again.
In April 1976, Big John married an 18-year-old waitress from the Villa Basque.
It lasted barely a year.
In 1978, he started seeing another woman from the restaurant, Joan Williams.
Williams was a dark-haired forty-something mother of four, a university graduate with a degree in Spanish literature who liked to bowl and play golf in her spare time.
Separated from her husband and children, she worked weekends at the Villa Basque.
During the week, she had a job with the Fresno County Probation Department, where she mostly handled DUI cases and misdemeanors.
Within the year, she had moved into the house on North Fowler Avenue.
It was just them and Jimmy there now; Johnny had taken his high school proficiency test, quit school, and moved out of the house for good.
He came by the restaurant and told Big John that a couple of his checks had bounced.
He settled up quickly.
That same year, the Villa Basque burned to the ground.
With everything else gone, he sold the house in Clovis to Joan for a fraction of its true value to help pay off his debts.
That September, the debt collector came to visit him at the house in Clovis.
He drank Maalox and buttermilk like water.
In the spring of 1979, complaining of fatigue, he was diagnosed with abdominal cancer.
Later that year, he was admitted to the hospital with acute gastrointestinal bleeding.
But whatever edge he once felt he had over the dealers https://juegoenelmundo.com/casino/samuel-indian-casino.html, it had vanished, along with his money.
He had a girl with him.
The manager put him in Suite 1017, his old favorite.
But before the celebrations could begin, the manager was back, apologetically informing him that another guest needed the suite.
Big John protested, but it was no use.
He and the girl spent the last night of the 1970s in a room so small they could barely get around the bed.
The next morning, John Birges woke up to face the new decade.
He was nearly 58 years old, terminally ill, broke, twice divorced, and humiliated.
He had nothing left to lose.
Now all he had to do was take it.
The boys agreed to help.
And besides, Johnny and Jimmy figured the plan would never come to anything: Big John would be caught as soon as he tried to get his bomb into the casino.
So late one Friday night, Johnny drove his Dodge van over to the house on Fowler Avenue to pick up Jimmy and Big John.
They headed east into the mountains, toward the Helms Creek hydroelectric construction project.
A colossal underground engineering scheme to create a new reservoir and build a pumping station in vaults beneath a granite mountain in the Sierra Nevada, the project would ultimately require the excavation of more than a million cubic yards of rock and earth and the blasting of almost four miles of tunnels, each 38 feet in diameter.
It called for an extremely large quantity of explosives.
Big John had already been up to the Helms site two or three times by himself.
But even before the Birgeses reached the gate, they could see a crew nearby pouring concrete.
Someone was sure to click the following article them.
They drove back to Clovis.
Exactly one week later, they tried again.
He drove on through the front gate, then parked in the shadows behind a mound of dirt.
Next to the batch machine—a giant concrete mixer that turned constantly—was a small red wooden shack hung with a sign that read DANGER EXPLOSIVES.
The three men pulled on gloves.
Big John crept around the back of the shack, carrying a portable oxyacetylene torch in a backpack.
He forced open a window, and he and Johnny climbed inside.
With the torch, Big John cut the padlocks off the steel door of the powder magazine.
Inside was case after case of Hercules Unigel dynamite and blasting caps.
Each case weighed 50 pounds and measured two feet by one foot.
Johnny passed them out the window.
Big John and Jimmy stacked them in the dirt.
The boys got nervous.
But Big John kept wanting more.
Johnny turned the van around, and Big John used a tree branch to scuff out their tire tracks.
They pulled through the gates and headed west.
No one saw a thing.
The van rolled back into Clovis at around three in the morning.
They had stolen 18 cardboard cases filled with dynamite and blasting caps to go with it—more than 1,000 pounds of explosives in all.
Used correctly, it was enough to reduce a large building to a pile of rubble.
They stacked the boxes in the walk-in freezer, surrounded by the remains of the beef, lamb, and lobster ordered years earlier.
Then Big John padlocked it shut.
Johnny was at home when the phone rang.
The freezer full of dynamite gave Big John a new sense of purpose.
In the machine shop behind the house, he did a little work each day, welding and soldering.
Slowly, his most ingenious invention began to take shape.
Two weeks after the raid on Helms Creek, Johnny went over to Fowler Avenue to see what his father had been up to.
The workshop was well equipped but chaotic.
It was scattered click to see more the makings of half-finished projects: irrigation line, mgm casino maryland national harbor tower for solar panels, and the greenhouse Joan had been trying to get Big John to build for her.
In the middle of it all, covered with a blanket, were two rectangular boxes welded together from sections of quarter-inch steel plate.
Even empty, the larger of the two boxes—26 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 45 inches long—was too heavy to lift.
Fitted with recessed casters and a second set of wheels with rubber tires, it was large enough to contain nearly all the dynamite they had taken from Helms Creek.
The second box was smaller—just over a foot square and 22.
The bomb, Big John explained to Johnny and Jimmy, had eight separate electromechanical fusing mechanisms.
If any one of them was triggered, it would complete a circuit between a battery and detonators attached to the dynamite, and the bomb would explode.
First, the two boxes were lined with aluminum foil sandwiched between two layers of neoprene; if anyone attempted garden bar casino coast drill through the outside of the box, the drill bit would make an electrical contact between the steel box and the foil, completing a circuit and detonating the device.
Second, Big John had used spring-loaded contacts to booby-trap the screws holding the tops of the boxes in place.
Unscrew any of them and the contacts would close, completing a circuit.
Third, the lids of both boxes were rigged with pressure switches like those used in car doors to operate dome lights.
If either lid was removed, the switches would open, completing a circuit.
Fourth, inside the top box Big John rigged a float from a toilet cistern.
If the box was flooded with water or foam, the float would rise, completing a circuit.
Fifth, beside the float was a tilt mechanism built from a length of PVC pipe lined with more aluminum foil; inside hung a metal pendulum held under tension from below with a rubber band.
Big John took a circuit tester and demonstrated to Johnny: Once this was armed, if the bomb was moved in any way, the end of the pendulum would make contact with the foil, completing a circuit.
Sixth was a layer of foil running around the seam connecting the two boxes; if a metal object was inserted between the top and bottom boxes to lever them apart, this would complete a circuit.
Finally, Big John had installed a solid-state irrigation timer—designed for greenhouses and sprinkler systems—connected to a six-volt battery.
This could be set in time increments from 45 minutes to eight days.
But once it had been activated and all the booby traps had been armed, it would no longer be possible to get inside the bomb to turn it off.
As soon as the timer reached zero, it would detonate the device.
On the side of the top box, Big John built a panel of 28 steel toggle switches, neatly numbered and arranged in five rows.
He told Johnny that three—or perhaps five—of the 28 could be used to switch the pendulum circuit on and off.
Flip any one of the live switches and it would complete a circuit.
Then the device would explode instantly.
Throughout the summer, Big John kept working on the bomb.
He wired in the firing mechanisms and spot-welded the boxes together.
He built a dolly to move it around.
Johnny gave the casing a slick finish.
He covered the screws with Bondo and gave the boxes a coat of flat gray paint.
Still, they wondered, how would he get his contraption inside a busy casino without arousing suspicion?
Big John had already thought of that.
One day in early August, with the bomb nearly finished, he laid out the plan to Johnny and Jimmy.
Big John would then arm the bomb and leave it there, along with an extortion note.
No: Three million sounded about right.
When Jimmy asked his father how he planned to pick up the extortion money, Big John refused to say.
Jimmy had heard him mention a helicopter, and he knew Big John had stolen two strobe lights from airplanes parked at Lake Tahoe Airport.
Outside, in the sun, he and Joan removed the sticks of dynamite from their paper wrapping and laid them out on the ground.
The explosives reeked of turpentine; the fumes gave them both headaches and made them nauseous.
They packed the sticks tightly into Hefty bags and put them inside the bomb casing.
Eventually, with all the dynamite feu pokemon casino rouge prix place, Big John and Jimmy rigged the explosives with bundles of blasting caps and wired them into the fusing circuitry.
The bomb was now complete.
A week after that, Jimmy came into the kitchen to find that the extortion note was finished, too.
It was sitting there on the table in a clean white envelope.
Joan had typed it up on her electric typewriter, the one she used for the business and creative-writing classes she was taking at night.
She told Jimmy he could read it if he liked.
Big John pulled the half-ton bomb up with a block and tackle while Johnny guided it into position.
Then the rope snapped and the bomb rolled back.
Somehow nothing was broken, but it gave him a way out.
Inside the bomb, the timer was already running.
Terry Hall and Bill Brown were sitting around the house drinking beer at around one in the afternoon when Big John called.
Bill was a redneck pipe fitter from Arkansas.
He had a hard-luck past, jailhouse tattoos, and a record to match: car theft, drunk and disorderly, battery, reckless driving, assault with a deadly weapon.
At 59, he was a hard man running to fat, with an ulcer, an ex-wife, and four children to support.
Dark hair set in a close perm.
Bill and Terry were both out of work.
Terry had a felony conviction for forgery and had been in and out of trouble since he was a kid.
The cops had picked him up a few times for sniffing paint, and around 14 or 15 he used to shoot heroin pretty often, maybe do a little acid, smoke some weed.
But mostly he liked to drink.
He and Bill were both hard drinkers.
Once in a while, vodka and orange juice.
Big John told him he wanted the two of them over at the house right away.
When they arrived, Bill and Big John went around the back of the house to talk.
A couple of minutes later, Bill called Terry over.
The way Big John explained everything, it was just so easy, like they were expected to be there.
They left for Tahoe at dusk.
Big John drove the van north up Highway 99.
He took it very carefully.
They had the radio on and cracked some beers.
They drove all night.
It was still dark.
They walked over to the back door of the casino.
Terry went in and looked at the elevator, to check the route.
But Big John wanted to wait and get some sleep before delivering the machine.
They drove south for a few miles and found a place called the Balahoe Motel, ten rooms set back from the highway in the trees.
They went for breakfast—Big John paid—and then checked in at the Balahoe at around 11:15.
Big John gave Terry some money and told him to get a room.
But Terry was on parole in California for burglary and probation for a hit-and-run.
His s could look like an o.
Then the desk clerk asked him to read her the license number off the van.
She wrote it down on the card.
They stayed in the room all day and most of the night, drinking and watching TV.
He was carrying a briefcase.
He told Terry and Bill to pick him up at Lake Tahoe Airport, a five-minute drive down the highway.
Bill and Terry put on the blue overalls Big John gave them.
The tow-truck driver arrived and got the van started.
With some rubber bands, Big John used it to cover the plate on the Dodge.
It was still dark, but the lights on the outside of the building lit the scene right up.
They unloaded the machine and towed it across the parking lot behind the van.
Terry pushed the dolly while Bill pulled.
It was hard going.
From outside the double doors, Terry could see a man in a cap sitting behind a desk.
As they came in, the man got up from behind the desk and walked away.
Through the double doors, past the desk, and then to the elevator, no more than 50 feet away.
Bill helped get the machine off the dolly and into the elevator.
Then he went back to the van.
Terry went on alone.
On the second floor, out of the elevator, left and left again.
It was the first time he had seen it.
Then he left, taking the stairs, and went out the front of the building.
It had taken no more than two minutes.
Afterward, Terry would be hazy on the details.
But he had drunk a lot of beer.
Outside, the sun had come up.
He was standing there waiting for the light to change when Big John came up behind him.
It was only a couple of minutes before they made a stop at a bait shop.
Terry bought some more beer.
Then they stopped at a creek to take a piss.
While Bill and Terry were relieving themselves, Big John took the dolly out of click back of the van and threw the pieces into the creek.
Bill and Terry continue reading at Big John.
Bill asked him why he was getting rid of it.
Nobody was going to get hurt.
Back in the van, Bill and Terry just sat there looking stunned.
The plan sounded hopeless.
On the way back to Fresno, Bill and Terry started drinking pretty good.
It was about 5:30 a.
He was on his way down from his second-floor office to the gift shop to buy a pack when he noticed something odd.
He stepped around the door and looked inside.
There was a big gray metal object sitting there, right outside the phone exchange.
It was on metal legs.
The legs were all balanced on pieces of plywood.
They were pressing into the thick orange carpet.
But then he noticed that the door leading out to the elevator was closed.
When he opened the door and felt the knob on the other side, his palm came away glistening with something sticky.
Vinson and the building maintenance supervisor examined the door lock.
It casino monticello chile of glue, and the keyhole had been jammed with pieces of wood—matches or toothpicks or something.
Vinson told the maintenance supervisor to keep an eye on the machine and went downstairs to get security.
agree, river rock casino richmond bc buffet opinion security supervisor that morning was Simon Caban, a big man who had been a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam.
When he saw the strange machine, but especially the envelope lying on the carpet next to it, he was alarmed.
It was lying face up.
Inside were three pages of type.
Caban picked up the one with the least amount of writing on it.
The deputy grabbed the other two.
They started reading at the same time.
He was leaning on the box.
The deputy was squatting on the floor at his feet.
Caban was about to tell the deputy to give him the rest of the letter when he click the following article up at the box.
Slowly, Caban lifted his weight off the contraption and backed away.
He hit the top of Spooner Summit just after sunrise, and as the highway dropped over the crest of the Carson Range, the eastern shore of the lake was still cool in the shadows.
The hotel was full to capacity with vacationers in town for Labor Day weekend, and as Jonkey went up to the second floor, guests were milling around in the parking lot—elderly couples still in their pajamas, kids without shoes—waiting for buses to drive them over to the high school.
Danihel, a former explosive ordnance disposal specialist in the U.
Army who had served in Vietnam, was supposed to be off for three days starting that morning.
He was packing for a camping trip with his family when he got the call.
The fire department team was still bringing equipment up from the parking lot when Jonkey arrived.
The welding, the seams, the paint job—the thing was beautiful.
None of the bomb-squad guys had seen anything like it.
Then they showed Jonkey the letter.
Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators will set it off at a movement of less than.
There is a float switch and an atmospheric pressure switch article source at 26.
Both are attached to detonators.
Do not try to take it apart.
The flathead screws are also attached to triggers
 WARNING: I repeat do not try to move, disarm, or enter the bomb.
This mixture of stentorian threats and technical minutiae continued for three pages.
It was equipped with three separate timers.
The letter advised cordoning off a minimum of 1,200 feet around the building and evacuating the area.
In exchange, instructions would be provided for how to disconnect two of the automatic timers so the device could be moved to a location where it would explode harmlessly.
Once the ransom was paid, five sets of the instructions would be sent by general delivery to the Kingsbury Post Office in Stateline.
The transaction has to take place within 24 hours.
But when Danihel began shooting X-rays of the box, Jonkey saw evidence of a chilling complexity within.
There were wires connected to the 28 toggle switches and to the screws, just as the letter said.
Nobody would go to all the trouble of building a device of such sophistication just to give it a payload of kitty litter.
Jonkey sent detectives from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department off to locate witnesses, to find out how these guys got the thing into the casino.
More FBI agents arrived from Reno.
It would be their job to try to identify the suspects and handle the potential extortion payment.
At around 8:15 a.
He wore yawning open-necked shirts, amber sunglasses, heavy gold rings, and a medallion.
Behind his back, his men called him Broadway Joe.
We got a lot of things going on down here.
Rubbernecking crowds filled the Sahara parking lot.
News trucks from Reno gathered along Highway 50.
Explosives experts were on their way into Tahoe from specialist facilities throughout the United States: an Army EOD squad from the nearby depot in Please click for source, California; scientists from the Naval Lakeside casino zĂŒrich Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California; and the Nuclear Emergency Support Team, recently created by the Department of Energy to respond to incidents of nuclear terrorism.
This is on every major news network.
Highway 50 was blocked in both directions.
Inside the deserted hotel, Danny Danihel and his men were alone with the bomb.
On the casino floor, the ranks of slot machines silently winked their lights.
Hands of cards, stacks of chips, and cash lay abandoned on the tables.
The food in the buffet was congealing.
The bomb team examined the device every way they could.
They photographed it and dusted it for fingerprints, X-rayed it and scraped it for paint samples.
They scanned it for radiation with a Geiger counter.
And, using electronic listening devices and stethoscopes, they strained again and again to hear any sound coming from inside it.
At first the task was almost impossible.
But late that night, it was quiet enough that, for the first time, they were able to pick up something coming from the lower box: an intermittent whirring noise.
You had to listen for a minute to hear it, but it was definitely there.
Somewhere inside the bomb, something was happening.
They needed him to make a decision about the ransom.
Gross asked them what they thought.
And who would risk moving the thing, based on what the extortionist had told them?
It would take a minimum of four men.
All of them would be killed if something went wrong.
No, they told Gross, it was impossible to move.
The best place to have it explode was right where it was.
Once he understood all that, Harvey Gross made his decision.
Big John arrived back at the house in Clovis late on Tuesday afternoon and told his boys to get ready for the payoff.
Johnny and Jimmy tried to back out again, but Big John got angry.
He told them they had to do it.
Eventually, they gave in.
Big John and Joan took her car, a little Toyota Celica hatchback.
The boys followed in the Volvo.
It was early evening.
They stayed together, claw casino sk north on Highway 99 and then east onto 50.
They dropped Joan and her car off near Cameron Park Airport, outside Sacramento.
Then the boys went on with their father in the Volvo.
From the back seat, Big John gave directions and finally revealed the rest of the plan.
Following Highway 50 as it wound up into the wooded crags of Eldorado National Forest, they were headed for a remote clearing high in the mountains above Lake Tahoe.
There, at 4,000 feet, Johnny would drop his father and brother.
When they heard the aircraft approaching, they would turn on the strobe.
This would be the signal for the pilot to land.
When the pilot touched down, Big John and Jimmy would overpower him at gunpoint.
Jimmy and the money would go with Johnny, while Big John landed the helicopter at Cameron Park Airport, where Joan would pick him up.
The four would then rendezvous back in Clovis.
Then Big John and Joan would escape to Europe to launder the cash.
Things started to go wrong almost immediately.
The three men were already high in the mountains, on the serpentine stretch of blacktop between Placerville and Kyburz, when Big John realized they had left the battery back in Clovis.
When they reached Kyburz, a handful of wooden buildings scattered down the incline between the highway and the American River, it was around 11 p.
The door at the one-pump gas station was locked and the night bell was taped over.
Big John pushed on it anyway.
He tried it again.
Just the sound of water bubbling through the rocks in the river below.
He walked over to a wrecked VW parked in front of the gas station; maybe there was a battery in there.
He started rummaging around beneath the hood.
Inside the station, a couple of dogs began barking.
Then their owner, a skinny old man, burst through the click here, shouting and cursing and waving a pistol.
Big John and the boys dived into the Volvo and fled.
Now Big John was desperate.
They turned the Volvo around and headed back the way they had come, toward Placerville, 30 miles down the mountain.
At the Placerville Shell station, they found an attendant named Ken Dooley.
Any kind of battery.
He was also diligent about his work.
He wanted to sell him one that would fit his car: Was it a Volvo?
Maybe it was an Audi?
He just wanted a battery, quickly.
Big John got back in the car, and he and his sons set off up the mountain once again.
Along the river, go here through Kyburz.
Johnny took a sharp left onto Ice House Road.
The Volvo rattled over a cattle guard.
The road climbed fast for two or three miles, narrow and switchbacked, hugging the side of the mountain.
The turnoff to the drop point was about casino nsw flood map remarkable with a fluorescent orange cross spray-painted on a tree.
By the time Johnny finally left his father and brother in the clearing with the strobe, the battery, and the guns and took off again in the Volvo, it was approaching midnight.
Five more minutes down the highway, Johnny pulled off onto a short gravel frontage road.
He saw a restaurant with a neon cocktail glass glowing overhead and a phone booth outside.
He dialed the number Big John had given him.
It rang once, twice.
The Bell Ranger was running on fumes when FBI agent Joe Cook touched down on the runway at Lake Tahoe airport.
The extortion note was very specific: Land at 23:00 hours, wait under the light by the gate in the chain-link fence; further instructions would arrive via taxi or the pay phone near the fence at exactly 00:10.
But Cook was late.
Getting hold of a helicopter to deliver a multimillion-dollar ransom to potentially armed extortionists had proved difficult, even for the FBI.
The local agencies had all refused to help.
In the end, Cook had flown up that night from the FBI office in Los Angeles, navigating for 400 miles using a Texaco road map.
When he landed, he radioed the tower for a gas truck and walked to the fence.
The phone rang almost immediately.
Cook answered on the second ring.
It was eight minutes past midnight.
His Southern accent had vanished.
He handed the piece of paper to Dell Rowley, hunched out of sight behind the seats with his submachine gun.
As Cook prepared for takeoff, Rowley read him the instructions: Follow Highway 50 west in a straight line.
Stay below 500 feet.
After 15 minutes, start looking for a strobe light on your right.
Cook took the helicopter up and flew along the highway, following the curves as it wound through the forest.
When he reached the 15-minute mark, he began circling.
Rowley was a SWAT team leader who had come to the FBI after serving in the U.
Army and then the Border Patrol down in El Paso, Texas.
Down in the moonlit clearing, a breeze sighed in the treetops.
Big John and Jimmy listened for the chop of rotor blades.
Once, Big John thought he please click for source something, took the cables, and turned the strobe on for half a minute.
Big John emptied gunpowder from some shells and started a fire.
Miles away, in entirely the wrong place, Joe Cook scanned the darkened landscape for more than an hour.
He circled wider and wider.
Eventually, he and Rowley gave up and flew back to Tahoe with the three bags of scrap paper and the thousand dollars.
The SWAT team stood down.
On the other side of the valley, Johnny waited for four or five hours in the dark.
He kept the car window open, listening for the sound of his father and brother flying in with the money.
Finally, he decided something must have gone wrong.
He drove the Volvo back to where Joan was waiting, in Cameron Park.
She was sitting in her car beside the airport fence, on the right side of the road.
He said there had been some confusion.
It sounded like they still intended to pay the ransom.
Johnny drove back up the mountain to find Big John.
Joan was close behind him in her Celica.
On a right-hand hairpin at the bottom of Ice House Road, Johnny took the bend too fast.
In his rear-view mirror, he watched Joan skid across the road and slam into the embankment.
The car was wrecked.
Johnny went back and found Joan bleeding from her nose and head.
Together, they drove up the road a short distance in the Volvo.
Jimmy and Big John were walking down toward him.
It was around 6 a.
It was light out.
Johnny, Jimmy, Big John, and Joan picked up the guns from the drop site, then drove Joan down to the hospital in Placerville.
Then the three men took the Volvo down the street to the public phone at a Beacon gas station.
Five was a dummy switch, Big John said.
But it would buy them some more time.
It was almost seven when they began the three-hour drive back to Fresno.
Jimmy was asleep in the passenger seat, Big John passed out in the back.
Johnny was already late for work with the roofing company.
As the landscape flattened out and the two-lane highway split into freeway, he put his foot down: 40, 50, 65 miles an hour.
Then he saw lights in his rear-view mirror.
Officer Jim Bergenholtz of the California Highway Patrol was a stickler for details.
He had paced Johnny for two miles before kingcasino bonus 200 casino bonus pulling him over.
After he issued him a speeding ticket, he took careful note of the number of men he saw in the gold Volvo and exactly where they were sitting.
For the first 24 hours, Danny Danihel had felt pretty comfortable with the bomb.
Since the midnight deadline had come and gone, the situation was different.
Now the thing could go off at any moment.
And despite his listening devices and photographs and the patchwork of X-rays stitched together across the wall of the command post across the street, Danihel had no real idea what was inside the device.
By Wednesday morning, he still had dozens of questions: When did the timer start running?
How accurate was it?
How reliable were the batteries?
Was he really an expert or just some nut job who wanted people to think he was?
By the time word came over about flipping switch five, neither Danihel nor the other two members of the bomb squad, Carl Paulson and Larry Chapman, had slept since Monday night.
Over in the Sahara Tahoe, explosives experts were poring over the X-rays, trying to figure out how to defeat the device.
Danihel built a rig to flip switch five remotely, but the experts advised against acting on the call.
The description of the 28 toggle switches on the box had been all over the TV and newspapers.
Hoax claims and crank calls were coming in all the time.
It was probably meaningless.
They threw out every idea they could come just click for source with.
Flood the bomb with liquid nitrogen.
Encase it in concrete.
Pick it up and carry it to a nearby golf course.
Finally, Leonard Wolfson, a civilian consultant to the Navy, suggested using more explosives to defeat the bomb, with a linear shaped charge.
A precisely formed piece of plastic explosive encased in a brass jacket, it would create two explosive planes of hot gas collapsing on one another to form a fine jet: a pyrotechnic cutting tool.
This could disable the bomb by severing the fusing mechanisms the technicians could see in the top box from the explosives they believed filled the lower box.
Wolfson explained that the time between the detonation of the charge and the gas jet striking the box would be half a millisecond.
If the bomb contained only low-voltage circuitry, it would be decapitated before the electrical impulses from the battery could reach the detonators and trigger the dynamite.
It was risky, but it was the best idea they had.
At noon, the men around the table took a vote.
Using a computer terminal set up in the Sahara to communicate with Lawrence Livermore, Wolfson began making calculations.
A defense contractor down in Las Vegas machined the brass components for the shaped charge, which were then flown up to Tahoe by helicopter.
He had been awake for 30 hours.
He was very tired and very scared.
Standing beside the bomb, he positioned the charge against a stack of Tahoe phone books and a Formica-topped table at the precise angle dictated by the scientists at Lawrence Livermore.
He checked the angles using a tape measure and a piece of string.
He primed the charge and checked the detonators.
He checked the continuity of the firing leads with a galvanometer.
He had only one shot.
He made the connection to the firing leads.
Then he checked everything again.
At that moment back in Fresno, Johnny Birges was just leaving work.
As they headed north on Highway 88, Big John told Jimmy that it was time for another phone call.
Despite what he had claimed in the extortion note, the irrigation timer in the bomb would run for at least three more days before detonating the explosives.
Big John wanted the governor to make good on his promise of a second attempt at the ransom exchange.
The highway through the Gold Country plains toward Placerville was remote and deserted.
It was a little after 3:30 in the afternoon.
Crowds of gawking tourists and reporters craned their necks from behind the barricades.
Word went around that gamblers were placing bets on what would happen next.
Danny Danihel walked down the frozen escalator, past the blinking slots, and out into the afternoon sun.
The empty street rang with the sound of a deputy calling out a final warning over the PA of his patrol car.
Then silence, save for the clicking of the stop lights on Stateline Avenue.
He touched the second strand to the battery.
It was 3:46 p.
But nobody heard him over the roar of the explosion.
Danihel and Paulsen scrambled beneath the truck.
Fragments of concrete and pieces of plaster rained from the sky.
On the roof of the Sahara Tahoe, Bill Jonkey sheltered behind a shallow parapet.
A pressure wave radiating outward at more than 14,000 feet per second tore through the second floor, bursting through doorways, flattening walls, and shattering windows.
A curtain of brown smoke fell across the facade.
A cloud of white dust blossomed from the second floor, enveloping the building and rolling across the parking lot.
Behind the barricades, a ragged whoop went up from the crowd.
Danihel and Paulson lay on the warm asphalt, waiting for the patter of debris falling on the roof of the truck to subside.
From within the building came sounds of rending and crashing as floors and ceilings collapsed.
When they finally stood, the damage wrought by nearly 1,000 pounds of dynamite was clear.
A jagged five-story hole yawned in the middle of the casino.
There must be some confusion.
Hoppe thought it sounded like a white man of around 30.
Then he hung up.
Big John and Jimmy were back on Highway 88, headed for Placerville, when they heard the news on the radio.
Half an hour later, they arrived at the hospital to collect Joan.
She had a Band-Aid across her casino bomb />They watched as footage of the explosion replayed on a TV in the waiting room.
Joan said they still had to report the accident to the Highway Patrol.
They drove up to Ice House Road to get her car.
A tow truck was waiting; Joan had locked the keys inside, and Big John had to force the window open.
They followed the tow truck back down Highway 50.
It was really quiet all the way back to Clovis.
Nobody said anything about the bomb.
He was still in his suit and tie.
He had come straight from the FBI Explosives Operations Center in Washington, where he worked as a bomb analyst.
That afternoon, the local agents had pulled him off the plane before it had even reached the gate at Sacramento Airport and flown him to Tahoe by helicopter.
Ronay heard two explosions in close succession: a hiccup and then a boom.
The concussion knocked him to the ground.
Plaster dust was still drifting in the air.
The explosion had torn a giant spherical hole through the middle of the hotel.
Where the bomb had once sat on the second floor, a hole 60 feet in diameter gaped in the foot-thick concrete.
There was a matching hole 50 feet across in the floor above and another 30 feet across in the floor above that.
The void reached up to the fifth floor and all the way down into the basement.
Around it, webs of twisted rebar were tangled with broken drywall, bedclothes, and pieces of metal window frame.
Toilets teetered on the edges of newly calved precipices.
TV sets dangled by their cables over the abyss.
Water poured from broken pipes, soaking everything.
From somewhere deep inside the darkened carcass of the building came the distant sound of whirring machinery, still drawing power from an auxiliary generator no one had thought to shut off.
Ronay looked down at the dust carpeting the parking lot.
His job was just beginning.
Once Highway 50 reopened, the investigation—a Bureau Special, Major Case No.
Bill Jonkey was made the case agent for Nevada, charged with coordinating the investigation on his side of the line until the culprits were found.
Joe Yablonsky held a press conference announcing that the bureau was setting up a national information hotline.
Tips started pouring in from around the world, hundreds of possible suspects and dozens of suspicious vehicles.
A blackjack dealer recalled seeing a man standing with the device by the elevator at around the same time.
Several other witnesses said they had seen a white van in the parking lot of the hotel that morning, though nobody could recall a license plate.
The old Lake Room was small and shopworn, but the symbolism was important—and so was the money.
Yablonsky gave another press conference there, on a red-curtained stage behind the bar.
He admitted to the press that the FBI had not yet developed a significant lead and had no detailed descriptions of casino bomb suspects.
It was the largest bounty Yablonsky had ever heard of in a criminal case.
By Monday, Yablonsky was still waiting in vain for a solid lead.
Agents had recovered fingerprints from the bomb and were checking them against their records.
But none of the witnesses could agree on what the suspects looked like.
Among the hundreds of tips the bureau had received was a call from Gerald Diminico, the manager of the Balahoe Motel on Emerald Bay Road near the airport.
He said that two men driving a white van had checked in there the day before the bomb was discovered.
They had made a nuisance of themselves asking for jumper cables at four in the morning and checked out soon afterward.
In Fresno, FBI agents checked over the details from the registration card at the Balahoe Motel: Joey Evetto, of 4423 Van Ness, Fresno; a white Dodge van, license plate 1A65819.
A call to the California DMV from an agent in Sacramento revealed that no license had ever been issued to a Joey Evetto.
It did, however, return a hit on the license plate.
The department had an application for a title transfer on file, but the clerks would have to search the transfer applications by hand.
It would take some time.
They searched the mountain of rubble one shovelful at a time, looking for pieces of the bomb.
They set up sifting tables outside the casino.
Each one was hung with two bags: one for evidence, the other for any of the million dollars in cash and chips left on the felt when the bomb went off.
Harvey Gross put one of his guys with a shotgun beside each sifting station, just in case.
Within ten days of the bombing, the FBI team in Stateline had its first break.
Based on the composite pictures and some telephone tips, the agents had assembled a short list of prime suspects.
The focus of the Wheelbomb investigation now settled on five electronic engineers employed at two aircraft factories: the Gates Lear plant in Tucson, Arizona, and the Lear Avia plant in Stead, near Reno.
They resembled the men in the composite pictures.
At least one of them had recently shaved his mustache and obtained a new work ID.
They had access to strobe lights and had technical and aviation experience.
The FBI put them under 24-hour surveillance, including wiretaps on their phones.
What the agents heard on the wire only confirmed their suspicions.
Finally, confident that they had the bombers, 20 agents drove up to Reno from Stateline to confront the suspects with the evidence.
Yablonsky expected arrests and was ready to give a triumphant announcement to the press.
Something about this felt very wrong.
They glanced down the hallway at one another and shook their heads.
They had the same sinking feeling: Shit.
On September 17, Joe Yablonsky held another press conference and finally released composite pictures of two of the men they were looking for.
They were both white.
One was said to be five feet seven inches, about 20 years old, with sandy blond hair and a mustache.
The other had short dark hair and protruding ears.
The bombers must be part of a particularly tight-knit group, he figured—perhaps a family.
It was the only logical explanation.
Their team recovered casters, twisted fragments of the leveling bolts, and hundreds of pieces of mangled steel plate, the biggest no more than two inches across, folded and deformed by the force of the explosion.
Blast damage experts surveyed the wreckage, measured evidence of the overpressure wave and scorching.
They proved what Jonkey and Ronay already suspected: The concussion of the linear shaped charge had set off the pendulum mechanism in the bomb, which had then detonated as designed.
But the forensics provided them with no clearer picture of the bomb makers.
They considered the IRA, Iranian students, the Mafia.
But Harvey was 76 years old.
They could ask all they liked.
In the meantime, the FBI office in Sacramento had heard back from the California DMV.
The van they had been asking about, the one that had been spotted at the Balahoe Motel, was a white 1975 Dodge Tradesman registered to one John Birges, doing business under the name of the Villa Basque Restaurant in Fresno.
The registration renewal had been held up because of unpaid parking tickets.
Not me, Big John told him: You want my son.
In the weeks after the bombing, Johnny had gone back to his routine.
Monday to Saturday with General Roofing, 6 a.
High all the time.
A few days after the failure of the ransom handoff, he sold his van, trading it in at Fresno Toyota for a brand new 4x4.
Other than that, he acted normally.
And in spite of everything that had gone wrong already, he still had faith in his father.
Big John knew what he was doing.
He had sold the van, but he had no alibi to explain why it might have been seen in South Tahoe while the bomb was being delivered.
Johnny, Jimmy, and Big John got together in the kitchen on Fowler Avenue that night.
They came up with a story.
He was looking for a place to grow marijuana.
He arrived at nine or ten in the morning, parked the van, and walked around for a few hours looking for a good, secluded place to cultivate pot.
When he got home, he called his brother and arranged to use his pickup to https://juegoenelmundo.com/casino/casino-internete-atsiliepimai.html to work on Monday and Tuesday.
Big John assured Johnny that the investigators had no evidence.
He had no idea how it could have been spotted outside the motel on Emerald Road early Tuesday.
He was clearly lying to protect whomever he had allowed to use the van.
They asked him to take a polygraph.
It was entirely voluntary; they just wanted to eliminate him from the investigation.
They added John Waldo Birges to their list of suspects.
They interviewed Jimmy twice, but he gave them the same elaborate explanation about the marijuana patch and the dead battery.
He, too, told them he had mixed feelings about taking a polygraph test.
But this guy was something different: clever, funny, charismatic—always had a little smile on his face, an air about him that suggested he thought he was smarter than you.
Big John told Lane his whole life story.
He said that Johnny used marijuana; that was partly why he threw him out of the house.
He admitted that he had been a heavy gambler at times but said that over the years his winnings and losses had pretty much balanced out.
The last time he had been up in Tahoe was back in July sometime.
He said he thought organized crime was behind it.
By then the bureau had compiled a list of 486 individual suspects worldwide and eliminated 233 of them.
If they were lucky, the names of the men they were looking for were somewhere among the remaining 253.
In January 1981, the FBI agents in Fresno, still trying to eliminate Johnny Birges from their investigation, served him with a subpoena.
He was called to testify before a grand jury in Reno.
Once again, Big John told him to just stick to his story.
Everything would be fine.
It was a five-hour drive up from Fresno, through the mountains and the forest.
There was still snow on the road.
It was just a regular room with some chairs and some ordinary-looking citizens in it.
The whole thing took an hour, maybe an hour and a half.
Attorney asked Johnny about the van and the Balahoe Motel.
The jurors listened to him, watched his face.
Johnny felt pretty nonchalant.
Still, on the long drive home he began to wonder what he had gotten himself into.
Four months later, the Wheelbomb investigation was staggering to a standstill.
The investigators had no suspects and were running out of leads.
Half a million dollars—enough to set someone up for life.
It was a month before the call finally came in.
At first the kid was scared shitless that they were going to kill him or something.
Eventually, in early June, he agreed to meet a Fresno FBI agent face-to-face.
His name was Danny DiPierri.
Her name was Kelli Cooper.
After that, things started moving quickly.
The agents took Danny out to the Holiday Inn by the Fresno Air Terminal and hypnotized him.
They wired him and put him on the phone with Kelli.
A full background investigation began into John Birges Sr.
By late June, the Wheelbomb team in Carson City knew a great deal about Big John, and none of it was good.
Chris Ronay and his team flew back from Washington to conduct a microscopic examination of the Dodge, searching for old fingerprints, paint chips from the bomb, and explosive residue.
Agents from the Sacramento office went to question personnel at the Helms Creek hydroelectric project about the theft of explosives reported the previous year.
Another had tracked down Officer Jim Bergenholtz of the California Highway Patrol and his meticulously kept notebook.
By early July, 44 agents were back on the case full-time.
The Birgeses were designated prime suspects.
Johnny and Jimmy had known something was up for weeks.
All summer, agents followed the boys everywhere they went, from morning until midnight.
They followed them to work and home again.
If Jimmy went on a date, they waited until he had picked the girl up from her house, then they went in and braced her parents.
Sometimes the agents just sat outside his house, waiting.
They even had a name for him: Kickback.
They all knew he liked to get high.
Of course he got paranoid.
One day he took mushrooms, more than he should have, and tripped so hard that he saw a devil and an angel right there in the room with him.
He knew then that he had to make it all stop.
He got into the pickup and drove over to Fowler Avenue.
He pleaded with Big John to leave, to get out of the country before it was too late.
Throughout July, Bill Jonkey visited Big John almost every day.
Jonkey just wanted to get Big John talking—sometimes about how his sons were doing, sometimes about nothing much at all.
Sometimes Big John would yell and scream at them through the locked door.
They knew Big John kept a loaded.
Jonkey would stand outside in his polo shirt and jeans, turned away just so, his sidearm out of sight behind his right leg.
Birges, can you help us?
Why would a guy put switches on the front like that?
And what do you think you could have used to cover up the screw holes in there?
You can use Bondo or something.
He was interested in the payoff—what had gone wrong?
And the explosion—why had they blown it up themselves?
visit web page wanted badly to show them how clever he was, how much he knew about everything.
He and Big John had never liked one another.
Ferenc had thousands of birds out there in three open-sided sheds, each 100 yards long, tin roofs with dozens of automatic feeders beneath them: giant galvanized drums with a mechanism to drop feed into the trays a little at a time.
Jonkey was especially interested in the feeders.
Big John had built an electric bird-feeding mechanism and a pigpen for him from scratch.
The feeding system was operated by electrical pressure plates.
When the turkeys ate all the feed in a tray, the release of the weight closed a switch and more food tumbled out.
Jonkey and Chris Ronay entertainment ohkay casino that they had both seen this kind of technology before: the ghostly shadows inside the box outside the telephone exchange.
Still, they had not yet found a single piece of conclusive evidence placing Big John or the boys at the scene of the explosion.
They had tracked down a steel supplier in Fresno that stocked all the materials necessary to build the bomb and who counted Big John among his customers.
But Big John always paid in cash, and the supplier kept no receipts.
Then they could legally put a wiretap on the house on Fowler Avenue and listen in to everything that happened there.
But although they had the paperwork for microphone surveillance ready to go, they could find no one who could conclusively state that Big John was discussing plans for another bomb.
And yet: He was.
The day after the explosion, he had called Casino bomb Brown and Terry Hall again and told them to come over to the house.
When Big John started to tell them what he had in mind, Terry just stopped listening.
After they left, Bill told Terry that Big John meant what he said.
One minute she was fine.
The next she was lying in a field, dead.
It was best if they never talked about what had happened ever again.
A little less than a month after the explosion, Jimmy Birges was asleep on the couch when a noise woke him in the middle of the night.
It was around 4 a.
Big John had just come home.
A few days later, Jimmy was in the garage and Big John brought a stick of it out to show him.
It was red jelly wrapped in white plastic, crimped at the ends.
Jimmy followed in his Toyota.
There, beside two large trees, Big John had already dug a hole.
It was big enough for the whole haul of dynamite, around 700 pounds in all.
Throughout the winter and spring of 1981, as Johnny testified before the grand jury in Reno and the FBI agents in Carson City and Fresno searched desperately for any scrap of incriminating evidence against the Birges family, the dynamite sat there, buried at the bottom of a flood control ditch.
Then Big John got into some kind of fight with Ferenc and his wife.
He dug up the dynamite.
He rigged a little of it under the wooden bridge Ferenc had over there.
The bridge was the only way he had to get in or out of the farm.
Johnny heard the explosion all the way across town.
He might have been casing the place—or he might just more info been playing the tables again.
Because he also had another target in mind.
Early in the summer of 1981, he went over to San Francisco to have a look at the Bank of America building, the monolithic high-rise on California Street.
He told Jimmy that maybe he could get a bomb in there.
The new device would be remote controlled and would drive itself in.
At the beginning of August, Big John went to an electrical supply store north of Fresno and bought 20 switches.
He asked him yet again to explain his whereabouts on August 26 and 27 the year before.
Again, Johnny told his story, but this time Jonkey poked holes in it, and Johnny struggled to fill them.
Yes, he had gotten a speeding ticket on the way back, and there were two other men in the car with him.
That same day, Norm Lane and agent Carl Curtis visited Big John in Clovis.
They asked him where he had been those same nights the year before.
Then why, the agents asked, had several witnesses seen him on the afternoon of August 27, at the scene of a car accident on Ice House Road, up in the Eldorado National Forest?
Ah, now he remembered—that must have been the day he and his son went up there to collect Joan from the hospital, he told them.
She called and asked them to pick her up.
What was she doing up there?
But when she got there she found some of the casinos were roped off.
There was a bomb scare or something.
Big John said that he would never do such a thing.
He was much happier.
Big John said he was flattered that the FBI believed he casino bomb pull off such a crime.
He said that they were probably right; he was skillful enough to build such a complex device.
He showed them a letter from his 81-year-old mother in Hungary.
Before they left, the agents had one last question.
Had he ever had occasion to drive a white Dodge van, one that had once been owned by his son Johnny?
Yes, Big John said.
But that would have been years back.
The next day, Lane and Curtis dropped in on Big John again, this time with Bill Jonkey.
They gave him a form to sign to consent to a search of the house.
But he was more than happy to show them around the workshop.
On the way to the garage, he pointed out a big walk-in freezer.
He said he used it for food storage.
In the workshop, the agents noticed cans of gray spray paint and a small can of White Knight Auto Body Repair Putty.
They saw a piece of sheet metal of about the same thickness as the piece found taped beneath the phone booth at Lake Tahoe Airport.
They saw a drill press, an arc welder, and an oxy-acetylene welding-tank set.
And they saw a homemade cart with casters for wheels and a T-handle made of welded angle iron.
It was just too exposed; the neighbors would see everything.
No, he said, a sensible technician would need an entirely secret location known only to the individual building the bomb—whoever he was.
Later on the same day Big John gave him a tour of his workshop, Bill Jonkey put on a jacket and tie and drove over to Reno.
At the federal courthouse, Jonkey told the grand jury that everything Johnny had told them eight months earlier had been a lie.
He was there with his father.
That afternoon, the jury returned its decision.
John Waldo Birges was indicted for perjury.
Jonkey was back in Fresno that night with a warrant.
They found him hiding in the bathroom, holding the door shut from inside, and pulled him out at gunpoint.
Jimmy came over to the Fresno FBI office on O Street voluntarily; the investigators had nothing on him.
Inside, the boys were taken to separate rooms for questioning.
They both held tight to their story.
The agents were tense.
If the boys called their bluff—if they simply asked for a lawyer and stuck to their alibis—the district attorney would never be able to make the case against Big Seems amelia belle casino amelia la 70340 words />Everyone, even Johnny, would walk.
In the interrogation rooms on the fourth floor, hours passed.
Jonkey, Larsen, and a third agent went to work on Johnny.
She wanted you to be better than this.
But first he wanted to speak to his kid brother.
Jimmy had been stonewalling his interrogators for three hours by then.
But then he saw Johnny coming down the hall.
The agents had set the scene perfectly: Johnny was shuffling in cuffs and ankle chains.
Jimmy turned to one of the FBI men.
He said he wanted to talk to Johnny.
Jimmy came back to the table with tears in his eyes.
He said he was ready to tell the truth.
That was the end of it.
Four FBI agents, including Norm Lane and Carl Curtis, pulled them out of the Volvo and cuffed them at gunpoint.
He asked to speak to Jimmy.
When his younger son came in, he told Big John that the FBI knew everything.
The agents even knew about Bill Brown and Terry Hall.
Big John was furious.
It was all down to Johnny, he said.
He had shot off his mouth once too often.
Joe Yablonsky held a press conference the next day.
The FBI kept the boys in protective custody for a while after that, put them up in the Fresno Hilton, told them to order what they liked.
Johnny had a blast.
It was like an adventure.
On September 9, 1981, Johnny turned 21.
The FBI agents gave him a card and signed it with the nicknames he had given them.
The boys were phenomenal; they had great memories.
Back in Washington, Chris Ronay and the explosives lab built a replica of the bomb in a plexiglass box to use in court.
It took three men almost a month to finish it.
Big John never did come clean.
For four years he went through lawyer after lawyer until, finally, he defended himself.
Big John cross-examined his sons, speaking to them like strangers.
He suggested Jimmy put him up to it, because he needed money for college.
He said the bomb was never supposed to hurt anybody.
When Chris Ronay took the stand, Big John pointed out errors in his model of the bomb.
He took a car headlamp out of a briefcase and told him they could have used one to drain the battery and make the bomb safe.
He suggested Danny Danihel, the leader of the Douglas County fire department bomb squad, had deliberately blown the whole thing up.
They could all have been blown up for all he cared.
The judge sentenced him to life in prison.
In return for giving evidence against their father, John Waldo and James Birges pleaded guilty and were granted complete immunity.
They never served a day behind bars for their involvement in the bombing.
Bill Jonkey was amazed.
They got seven years each.
Ella Joan Williams was found guilty of conspiracy and sentenced to seven years in prison, but her conviction was later overturned on appeal.
They locked Big John up in the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California.
After the second trial, the boys never saw him again.
But before his final conviction, Jimmy wrote his father a three-page letter.
In it, he apologized for what he and his brother had done and asked for his forgiveness.
He explained that he had no work and no money.
He said that now he and Johnny would have to do whatever they could to stay out of jail.
You are the smartest and most remarkable person in the world.
I respect you more than anything and I will try to be worthy of you.
I cry often at the thought of what I did.
I wish we could have been a happy family from the start.
I am glad that you brought me up the way you did because it made me realize how hard life was early on.
Bill Brown and Terry Hall were released from federal prison in 1986.
They both eventually returned to Fresno, where Brown died in 1994.
Hall, not yet 50, followed him in 2005.
Bill Jonkey stayed in touch with the Birges boys for a few years after Big John went to prison.
He thought they were basically good kids.
There were things in there that the boys may not have known about.
And he could never be certain that Big John was telling the truth.
Jimmy Birges never left Fresno.
He settled down, eventually started a welding and fabrication business, had three children and began coaching Little League.
He did pretty well for himself, well enough to start racing cars in his spare time.
Having the same name as his father made life difficult.
He moved to Bakersfield and started his own contracting business.
He made a lot of money, but he also acquired a cocaine habit.
In 1986, his fiancée was driving back from Avila Beach one day and fell asleep at the wheel.
The car left the road, and she was killed instantly.
Her death seemed to sap Johnny of all motivation; he moved to Santa Barbara with nothing but a box of clothes, his truck, and a little coke.
He drifted for a while, started surfing, and eventually opened his own board-shaping shop down the coast in Ventura.
In 2008, after one DUI too many, he was sentenced to 240 days in the Ventura County Jail, where he got into a fight in the yard and ended up with a broken jaw.
He used the rest of his time inside to write a book about the bombing.
He changed a few things around, embellished the story here and there, and ended up publishing it himself, as a novel.
A Note on Sources: The events in this story were reconstructed using documents from the criminal investigation and court proceedings; interviews and written recollections of those involved; news reports, video, and photographs; and visits to the locations where the events took place.
Direct quotes were taken either from official documents or from recollections of at least one of the individuals involved.