The Sacramento Bee from Sacramento, California on August 27, 1981 · 20
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The Sacramento Bee from Sacramento, California · 20

Sacramento, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, August 27, 1981
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A20 The Sacramento Bee Thursday August 27 1981 1968 I ahoe Bomb Case Is Being Reactivated No Charges Filed In 13 Years Continued From Page A1 the victim’s chest cavity but before Chartrand could be moved to a waiting ambulance all signs of life disappeared After 13 years the murder — one of Nevada's most spectacular — is still listed as unsolved No arrests have been made no Indictments returned But the case retains a life of its own it Is a crime that simply will not go away For one thing the Douglas County sheriffs office under the personal direction of Sheriff Jerry Maple who took office in 1977 Is once again seeking additional evidence that would allow charges to be brought against two suspects For another the Federal Bureau of Investigation according to Informed sources Is cooperating with the current Douglas County effort and might propose that testimony about the crime with emphasis on the alleged Interstate transportation of the bomb be presented to a federal grand jury And because the case has roots in both Nevada and California a Me-Clatchy Newspapers team conducted Its own exhaustive Investigation of the killing That probe begun In 1979 traced Chartrand's career as a gambler from his start as an Illegal operator In his native Fresno through a period when he ran a small air charter service for gambling junkets to Nevada and finally to his time as principal owner of Barney's Hub and the South Tahoe Nugget two Stateline casinos Scores of documents were reviewed and almost to persons who were either closely associated with Chartrand or who had knowledge of the original homicide Investigation PAUL McCONKLY y ‘ " -V Richard Out of that effort came the conclusion that although no one was ever charged the officers who first Investigated a wide range of leads in the case were satisfied within a relatively short time that they knew not only who killed Chartrand but why Nor the McClatchy reporters found has the passage of more than a decade changed the minds of those Investigators They remain convinced that two career criminals from Southern California acting at the behest of a man who had a hidden Interest In Barney’s and who is a licensed Nevada casino owner today were responsible for the bombing The man who directed the plot the same Investigators still believe was motivated by what he regarded as Chartrand's failure to split fairly with him substantial sums of money regularly “skimmed" from Barney's Club ("Skimming" Is the practice of taking cash from a casino's proceeds before what's left Is reported for tax purposes ) One of the three men Identified by the Investigators Is dead The other two flatly deny any complicity In the murder What follows Is an account of the critical first 27 months of the Investigation — the period of lime It took the Investigators to reach their common conclusions Those conclusions are adamantly disputed by the men upon whom the Investigation eventually centered and their comments are Inrljdcd On Nov 7 1968 slightly more than two months after the bombing Douglas County Undersherlff George J Braulovlch now dead received a telephone call from Paul N McC'onkey an ex-convict with a long arrest record who was then operating a plumbing business In Lot Angeles McConkey told Braulovlch he knew who killed Chartrand but refused to discuvi the matter further on the telephone F leven days later Braulovlch accompanied by (wo veteran Los Angeles Police Impart ment Intelligence officers Dick Williams and the late Bill Heberts Interviewed McConkey at his plumbing shop McConkey named the persons he suspected of plotting ahd carrying out the Chartrand murder as Hoy F Purwllry and I-ouis Glenn Ballard acting for Irwin S "Bud" Soper Jr The 58 year-old Soper currently owns three small casinos one at Mount Montgomery Pass In a remote area of west central Nevada another at Laughlln a town on the Colorado River In the extreme southern tip of the state and a third at Tonopah the old gold and silver mining camp 65 miles east of Mount Montgomery Pas In years past Soper was one of an assortment of underworld figures who always seemed to surround Charlrand and he and Chartrand were partners In an Illegal casino 'J ’‘iy 5 'v 4e-t ft ' v i i- V I'"? Chartrand's Cadillac after the Barney's that ran unmolested for some time tn I resno Much of the money used to start Barney's Club came from that enterprise and a similar one that they ran along with Bernard E O Mulia In San Mateo County according to Soper t O’Malia Chartrand's partner in Barney s when It opened In 1961 and the man for whom the club Is named told Investigators after Chartrand's murder that Soper once threatened him (O'Malta) with a murder contract according to a Chartrand cuse report By his own account Soper had an unlicensed financial Interest In Barney's when Chartrand controlled the place Pumelley 64 now runs an auto repair business in Orange County He Is a onetime groom who was a player In Illegal games run by Chartrand and Soper A convicted burglar Purifteliey and his erstwhile partner Ballard who died In 1975 had reputations as small time hoodlums capable of violence As safe burglars they both were familiar with explosives ft hen BrautovU h and the two Los Angeles officers went to see McCon-key at his West I-os Angeles plumbing shop on Nov 18 1968 he told them that he had until shortly before employed Purvselley and that the preceding summer Purvselley hod obtained some dynamite in Arizona -rCv if r i -V - J 'y explosion Club on Tahoe's south shore Shortly thereafter McConkey said he observed Pursselley working on what could have been a bomb Most of the time Pursselley was around the plumbing shop Ballard was with him McConkey recalled Pursselley while employed by McConkey used the plumbing company's car and hJrConkey's Texaco and Diners Club credit cards McConkey related In late August of that year according to McConkey Pursselley told him he had to go to Pursselley said he selling sweaters in Heno “to do a job" and took the car and two credit cards Ballard accompanied Purswlley on the trip and they reappeared In Los Angeles on Aug 28 the day after the Chartrand murder McConkey further related that when Pursselley got back he told McConkey that Soper had forgiven all but 1400 of a $1400 loan Soper had made earlier to McConkey McConkey told the officers he paid off the $400 balance without question even though be wondered about Soper's "uncharacteristic generosity" In an apartment above the plumbing shop that Pursselley had recently vacated Brautovlch Williams and Roberts found a handwritten list of names addresses and telephone numbers of dynamite purveyors Finally McConkey told the three officers that not long before he had learned from a Union Oil station operator that Pursselley had been buying gas for McConkey's car with a Union credit card Issued to a Ruben Silvas Investigators later established that Silvas was an Arizona mining company employee who had reported the credit card stolen In December 1967 Through Texaco and Union credit sales records the officers were able to chart some of the movements of Pursselley and Ballard in the month and a half before Chartrand's murder The pair traveled to northern Nevada In mid-July 1968 and then made a separate trip to the Sacramento area from Los Angeles the last week of that month In mid-August they again drove from Los Angeles to Sacramento this time on a route that probably took them through the Lake Tahoe area On the first and third of these trips Pursselley bought gas in Bishop In the Owens Valley on US 395 That route on the eastern slope of the Sierra connects Southern California and northern Nevada but would not normally be used to travel between the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas It Is however the route that provides access to Mount Montgomery Pass where Soper lives Ur " M kfc V ROY PURSSELLEY was owned in part by the bomb On Aug 26 the day before the Chartrand bombing Pursselley checked out of the Carl Greer Inn on Interstate 80 In Sacramento’s north area at 2 01 p m according to the credit sales records of McConkey’s Diners Club card and the motel's records When the bomb went off In the early afternoon of the next day Pursselley and Ballard were driving south on State Route 99 They used McConkey's Texaco and Diners Club and Ballard were Sacramento cards to buy gas that day In Modesto and Bakersfield Investigators gave considerable weight to this travel data as other Information came to them Included In that Information was McConkey's statement to Williams and Roberts that Pursselley had said be and Ballard had been keeping a casino owner under surveillance On March 27 1969 McConkey told them that before the Chartrand bombing Pursselley showed McConkey some dynamite and detonators and claimed he was an expert with such material Williams’ notes reflect that Pursselley told McConkey that he and Ballard were "watching a casino owner who had been taking it off the top ('skimming') for years and taking It home and putting It Into a safe" McConkey said he assumed at that point that Pursselley and Ballard intended to blow the casino owner's safe according to Williams’ notes (Proof has been developed since Chartrand's death that "skimming" was part of the standard operating procedure at Barney's during the slightly less than two years Chartrand controlled the club ) Other Information Indicating Chartrand may have been stalked in the two months before his murder came from Patricia Carter Gallardo a 26-year-old blackjack dealer Chartrand lived with at the time of his ‘ death She recalled for Investigators that about six weeks before the bombing Chartrand was followed when he drove from Barney’s to his Skyland home In the early hours of the morning She herself was driving a car behind Chartrand Gallardo said and the surveillance vehicle passed her and attempted to cut between her and Chartrand The driver of this third car then realized Gallardo was following Chartrand and dropped back behind her but In front of yet another car being driven by Vincent D Todisco the Fresno lawyer who was Chartrand’s legal adviser The small caravan proceeded all the way to Chartrand’s home Gallardo said The unidentified driver a man was the only person she f ( t LOUIS BALLARD ‘II tfswf Ur victim observed in the car Todisco’s account of the Incident was essentially the same as Gallardo's A few nights after that Incident Gallardo said she noticed a strange car parked near Chartrand's home but could not see who was in It Through an associate of Purssel-ley's who was an Informant Williams and Roberts the Los Angeles police officers gathered additional detail about Pursselley's doings The informant used a car Identical to Chartrand's El Dorado Cadillac and when Pursselley saw it he remarked "This Is just like the car the guy had that got bombed in Nevada" the informant told the officers Then on Oct 29 1969 Raymond E Roberts chief criminal Investigator for the Nevada attorney general persuaded McConkey to telephone Pursselley and pretend to be worried about the possibility of police searching the plumbing shop for remnants of materials used to make the bomb In the brief conversation which was recorded by Roberts McConkey described for Pursselley how moments before he had turned away two "plainclothes cops from Nevada" who had come to his shop wanting to search It McConkey told Pursselley that the detectives had departed but presumably would be back with a search warrant "They asked about the material If I'd seen a bomb around here" McConkey said and then Inquired "Did you get that dynamite and stuff outta here? It's all clean7’ "Oh yeah" Pursselley assured him "As far as I know everything there Is clean Paul Let ’em search What’d they do ask you about me"? "Yeah Well they just asked me if I knew you ond Glenn and Bud and looking for dynamite material or something bomb material" McConkey said "Huh Wonder why the hell they'd be doin’ that for?" Pursselley asked “I don't know" McConkey answered "I don't either" Pursselley said “Don't have the slightest idea They can look at anything they want to You haven't got anything to hide I haven't got anything to hide you know Hell if they want to talk to me they can come and talk to me you know" Soon after this conversation Pursselley dropped from sight and could not be located by Investigators More than a year later — on Nov 26 1970 — Undersheriff Brautovlch again Interviewed McConkey who said he had talked to Pursselley twice since the pretext telephone call According" to Brautovich’s report on the interview McConkey evidenced a deep-rooted fear of-Pursselley and told Brautovlch he did not Intend to raise the subject See OLD CAS! yf ‘ mm mm y IRWIN SOPER JR

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