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Rick Tabish is coming home to Missoula.

The Montana Department of Corrections agreed to take over Richard B. "Rick" Tabish's supervision this week, more than a decade after the 45-year-old Big Sky High School graduate gained notoriety as a suspect in the 1998 death of former Las Vegas casino executive Ted Binion.

Tabish and his secret girlfriend at the time, Sandy Murphy, were both convicted and later acquitted of killing Binion; however, Tabish has since remained in custody on burglary and grand larceny convictions. After his acquittal on the murder charge, a Las Vegas jury found him guilty of stealing $7 million of silver from Binion's underground desert vault, a heist that occurred days after the casino magnate's death. Tabish was granted parole in January.

"We're just waiting for the (Nevada) parole board to set a release date, which should be any day because his parole was approved," said Cathy Gordon, interstate compact unit manager with the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole. "He's a pretty mandatory acceptance case because he does have family in Missoula and he is a previous resident of Montana."

Under the release plan, Tabish will be required to live with his parents, Frank and Lani Tabish, in Missoula. He will be supervised by Montana parole officers until his prison term expires in March 2011, Gordon said.

He also must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet around his ankle for 60 days, Gordon said, and is prohibited from traveling outside of Missoula, Mineral and Ravalli counties without prior approval from his parole officer. He'll be required to find employment, which he does not yet have lined up, Gordon said, and is prohibited from having any contact with his ex-wife, his children or his ex-wife's family.

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Tabish grew up in Missoula, the son of a well-heeled family. By the time he was in his 20s, Tabish was involved in a series of crimes, including drugs and burglary. The burglary case involved the theft of a painting, which later turned out to be a forgery, but which at the time was valued at $600,000. Tabish took the painting from the home of an attorney who was representing him in another criminal case.

Tabish was sentenced to 10 years in the Montana State Prison, with seven years suspended, on a felony charge of criminal possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. He was given a three-year deferred imposition of sentence on the burglary charge. Both sentences expired in 1997.

After serving the brief prison sentence, he opened a string of businesses that eventually led him to Las Vegas, where he tried to expand a trucking business. The businesses eventually foundered, however, despite his relationship with Binion, the wealthy son of legendary Las Vegas casino owner Benny Binion.

Tabish and Murphy were convicted in 2000 of drugging and then suffocating Binion, who had a relationship with Murphy, a Las Vegas stripper. Following the highly publicized trial, Tabish received a term of 25 years to life and Murphy got a 22-years-to-life sentence.

The Nevada Supreme Court granted a new trial following Tabish's conviction for the Binion murder; it led to the acquittal of both Tabish and Murphy on murder charges in 2004.

But the second jury again convicted Tabish and Murphy of charges related to the silver theft. Murphy was released for time already served. She now lives in Laguna Beach, Calif.

An official with the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation did not know exactly when Tabish would be released from custody and transported to Montana, but said the initial date for release had been in April.

"He has been approved for release and now it's just a matter of getting the logistical issues taken care of," said Lt. Tony DeCrona. "I don't know exactly when that will be, but it should be soon."

Records from the Nevada Department of Corrections show he has been incarcerated at two prisons in Nevada since October 2000. Tabish currently resides at Ely State Prison in Ely, Nev.

A phone call to Tabish's younger brother in Missoula was not returned Wednesday, but an order granting Tabish parole in January cited family support as a major factor for approval of the interstate transfer.

Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at tscott@missoulian.com.

 

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