The Rest of the Story

THE LAST RAMPAGE

By James W. Clarke. Professor of Journalism
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

(The murder of Don Bolles was to be a package deal including the murder of Al Lizanetz, Kemper Marley's public relations manager of 23 years. My interview of Lizanetz is available on audio tape. In this interview, Lizanetz states that land fraud king pin, Ned Warren was Kemper Marley's agent. Lizanetz tells how Marley recruited Eugene Pulliam to come to Arizona to start the Arizona Republic Newspaper. Pulliam formed the Phoenix Forty and the rest is history --- organized crime history. Lizanetz details how Marley's United Liquor General Manager, Gene Hensley (none other than Senator John McCain's father-in-law) went to prison to protect Marley and was rewarded with a Budwieser distributorship now worth $60 million. B.Q. 8-15-1996) Chapter 6

Brothers and Cellmates

1976-1978

In Oct.1977, Raul Castro had resigned as governor of Arizona to become President Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Argentina. In the wake of the disturbing revelations of prison corruption and mismanagement and two consecutive years of inmate strikes and violence, the new governor, former Secretary of State Wesley Bolin, fired John J. Moran, the director of corrections, on Nov. 29, 1977, naming John B. McFarland as acting director. The decision was unpopular with the legislature. The person who should have been fired, many believed, was not the director but the warden. Had Moran been willing to fire Cardwell, Moran could have kept his job. It was obvious to everyone that Cardwell was incompetent, and some thought he was corrupt.

But Moran's name, along with Cardwell's, had been linked to organized crime activities within the prison ---in particular, to the contract murder of inmate Tony Serra on Jan. 3rd, 1977. He also was numbered among a handful of recent murder victims in Maricopa County whose deaths were linked to organized crime. But Serra had been stabbed and bludgeoned to death in the prison license plate plant, whereas others had been shot or carbombed or had "committed suicide" in Phoenix.

Tony Serra had been convicted on land fraud charges in 1974 and was serving an 8-to-10-year sentence. Before his conviction, he had been the sales manager for the Great Southwest Land and Cattle Company. The company was described by the Arizona Republic as "a crooked land firm believed by police to have been controlled by [Ned] Warren." Mafia figure Ned Warren, the paper said, was the "godfather of land swindlers."

Four months before he was killed, Serra had been interviewed at the prison by attorney Atmore Baggot and a man named Richard Frost. Baggot and Frost were members of Congressman John Conlan's political campaign organization. Conlan was seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat vacated when Paul Fanin retired. Congressman Sam Steiger was opposing Conlan in the Sept. Republican primary. Baggot and Frost wanted to know about Steiger's rumored connections with Ned Warren, and Serra was a likely source of information.

The race for the Republican senatorial nomination was a bitter struggle between two far-right-wing candidates competing for the same hardcore Arizona conservatives. Steiger, a transplanted city-boy from New York, liked to project the image of a hard-riding, often profane cowboy from rural Yavapai County, embodying a macho conception of the West. Conlan, in contrast, cultivated the image of a clean-living, churchgoing man: his west was the land of golf and tennis in Scottsdale. Despite their divergent styles and images, both were extremely conservative, but since neither candidate's political views were in question, both campaigns sought to make their opponent's integrity the major issue. As the election approached, their tactics became dirtier.

Steiger's organization decided to challenge Conlan's moral purity and conspicuously displayed Conlan's born-again Christianity. A whispering campaign was launched, in which questions were raised about Conlan's sexual preferences. Conlan's people in turn, pursued the rumors about Steiger's real estate dealings with Ned Warren and other shady characters. At the time, Warren was appealing a 1975 conviction on two counts of extortion, and hardly a day passed without a story about him appearing in the Phoenix papers. Baggot and Frost believed that rumors of corruption could destroy Steiger in the final weeks before the primary. When they asked Serra, he told them that the rumors were true.

Serra said he knew the whereabouts of missing real estate records that would further link Steiger to Warren in fraudulent land schemes. He told them that, following Warren's instructions, he had buried the incriminating evidence in the desert near Florence, after Maricopa County Attorney Moise Berger had lifted the records from the files in the District Attorney's office. Earlier, Berger's office had claimed that the missing records (which included phony land sales contracts and canceled checks paid to bribe a former Arizona real estate commissioner) had been "lost." Serra insisted that Berger was lying. The records, he said, were taken with Berger's knowledge and cooperation.

Serra when on to describe an abiding friendship between Warren and Steiger and Steiger's former congressional aide, Joe Patrick. According to Serra, Warren had been a "silent partner" with Steiger and Phoenix attorney Neal Roberts in acquiring land and developing the Lake Pleasant Lodge near Phoenix. Serra said that he personally had sold the lease to Steiger. In 1968, he became friendly with Steiger, Patrick, and Roberts. "We all drank at Rocky's Hideaway," he said, "and saw each other socially, you know."

Serra's interview was too good to keep quiet. Baggot decided to go public with it right away. He went to the Arizona Republic, and the story was published on August 13, 1976, less than three weeks before the primary election. A second story followed on August 21. Baggot assured Serra that his anonymity would be protected, but when the articals appeared they identified him by name. Baggot and Frost had issued Tony Serra's death warrant.

After the August 13 story appeared in the newspapers, Richard Frost called the prison and was routinely given permission to visit Serra again, but three hours later, Harold Cardwell called Frost and canceled the interview. Frost described Cardwell as being "very irate" on the phone. "You could get a couple of finks killed," Cardwell warned. Frost later said he was told by unnamed sources that "considerable political pressure had been brought against the warden to prevent another interview with Serra." Sam Steiger and Cardwell, they learned, were friends.

Don Bolles, an investigative reporter for the Arizona Republic, had long been aware of the associations Serra described. Bolles had written a number of stories about organized crime in Arizona, and the persons he wrote about didn't like what he was saying. He obviously knew too much, and there was concern that his stories would stir the curiosity of the State Attorney General, a liberal democrat with a Harvard degree by the name of Bruce Babbitt. Everybody knew that Babbitt was politically ambitious and was looking for issues to increase his visibility. Nobody wanted to play Jimmy Hoffa to Babbitt's Bobby Kennedy.

A year before Tony Serra's story appeared in the Republic, Bolles was writing a series about organized crime in Arizona, particularly with regard to real estate, banking, and racetrack gambling. On June 1 1976, a part-time tow-truck driver and greyhound breeder John Harvey Adamson called Bolles. The writer was well aware that Adamson was an errand boy for the people he had been writing about. Adamson told Bolles he had some information about Sam Steiger's connections with the crime-connected Emprise Corporation. Steiger had once been an outspoken critic of Emprise's operation, but the criticism abruptly stopped. Adamson told Bolles that Steiger had been lured into a lucrative land deal by Emprise representatives. Bolles said he was interested in learning more, and the two men agreed to meet the next morning at the Clarendon Hotel in downtown Phoenix.

According to Adamson, at the appointed hour the following day, he and a partner, James Robison, hid in the parking lot and watched while Bolles parked his car and entered the hotel. Adamson walked quickly to Bolle's car and attached six taped sticks of dynamite and an electronically controlled blasting cap to the frame beneath the driver's seat. Bolles returned to the car a short time later when Adamson didn't show. As soon as he slid inside and closed the door, either Adamson or Robison pressed the electronic detonator. The bomb exploded with tremendous force. Bolles lost the lower half of his body and an arm in the blast, but he remained conscious long enough to identify Adamson as the person who had set him up. Don Bolles died eleven days later.

That night Adamson and his wife were flown by private jet to Lake Havasu City. The executive suite at the Rodeway Inn had been reserved for them in the name of "Jim Johnson." Dinner reservations had already been made under the same name. Neal Roberts --- the Phoenix attorney Tony Serra had identified as an associate of both Ned Warren and Sam Steiger had phoned in the reservations the day before.

Neal Roberts had become a familiar name to anyone in Phoenix who had read Don Bolle's article about organized crime. In Jan. 1976, Roberts and Adamson's partner, James Robison, had conspired to blow up a government building in Phoenix. Roberts owned a financial interest in the building and hoped to collect insurance. On that occasion, however, the explosives had been found and disarmed by the police.

Robison, Adamson, and yet another associate of Neal Roberts, land developer Max Dunlap, were convicted for the Bolles murder. In 1978, Roberts was sentenced to five years in prison for the attempted bombing of the building. He was not, however, indicted in the Bolles case.

When Don Bolles was killed, Tony Serra knew that his life was also in danger. And when the story he had told to Baggot and Frost appeared in the newspaper two months later, there was no doubt in his mind that he was a marked man. He had repeatedly petitioned police officials for a transfer out of the main prison, where he was most vulnerable to attack. His transfer requests were ignored. In Dec. 1976, Serra was attacked by an unidentified person as he sat on the toilet. Serra described as a "tough cookie" who could take care of himself if he had to, was beaten about the head and shoulders with a steel pipe before he managed to escaped. Hoping to avoid future reprisals, he claimed he was unable to identify his attacker. But he knew that it wouldn't matter in the long run. There were too many others willing to pick up a contract if the money was right. And he knew it was.

After being treated at the prison infirmary, Serra requested a meeting with the associate warden, Dwight Burd. Burd was in charge of prison security, and Serra believed he was a reasonable man. Serra told him about the attack and what was behind it, and said there had been "a flood of threats on my life." Serra thought Burd seemed sympathetic. He promised to bring the matter to Cardwell's attention and assured Serra that Cardwell would get back to him.

Cardwell got back to him alright, but not in the way Serra had hoped. In a desperate letter to the interviewer who had broken his word, attorney Atmore Baggot, Serra claimed that not only had his repeated requests for a transfer been ignored, but that when Cardwell finally did see him, it was only to warn him to keep his mouth shut. Even more unsettling was the fact that Cardwell did not to come alone: with him was director of corrections, John Moran. After the first story linking Ned Warren and Sam Steiger appeared on Aug. 13, Moran and Cardwell both came to his cell, Serra said, and warned him about talking to the press.

In his letter to Baggot, Serra wrote:

On my noon release I returned to my cell to find the warden, mr. Cardwell, and his boss, Mr. John Morand waiting. This is highly unusual. They would normally send for me, but in this case they were so upset they came to get me. First they were in question as to how I arranged to get you people [Baggot and Frost] in. When I could be of no help along those lines, an order was given to a Major to investigate and report all names [on Serra's approved visitors list] to the warden. Next they started on "I had better watch out" who I was talking about and what I was saying. I quickly advised them to change their political alliances to Mr. Conlan. Then the threats started. 'You're time here can be very rough' 'You got a parole coming up' etc., etc,.

Serra closed his letter with a plea:

Mr. Baggot, many people here die since all of this hell started. I am not afraid for my life, but I would be a fool not t be concerned about it. Please be careful about the way you use my name. The newspaper has already referred to me as an informer. In here I already have had to explain. That could get me hurt.

The bitter race for Republican senatorial nomination so divided the party that, though Steiger won the primary, he lost the November general election to Democrat Dennis DeConcini. Cardwell, who needed Steiger's support, was disappointed and angry, and he blamed Tony Serra. After the general election Serra's life was rough at best.

On Dec. 30,1976, four days before he was brutally murdered, Serra wrote a last letter to Baggot:

"The warden was in the yard today," he wrote, "So I know he's here but it's become evident he's not intended to see me."

Tony Serra didn't go quietly. He punched and kicked, and it finally took four men to kill him. They stabbed him fifteen times and battered his head with lengths of pipe. One of his ears hung loose, almost torn from his head. The medical examiner later found in Serra's fists large tufts of hair he had ripped from at least one attackers head. His killers had managed to hold him down long enough to smash his skull with a heavy electric drill. Then they used a drill bit to punch a hole in his forehead.

After Serra's murder, both Cardwell and Moran were vague about their earlier meeting with the slain inmate. They admitted to speaking with Serra, but denied visiting in his cell and making any threats. Moran angrily dismissed Serra's story as "an absolute lie." Claiming that he couldn't recall exactly what they discussed, Moran said that it was "just chitchat." Cardwell was quick to agree. "Moran and I were in a cellblock where Serra was about the time he talks about," Cardwell said, "But we saw him only on the run as we were walking through...I don't even know where his cell was at that time."

When asked why Serra hadn't been transferred to protective custody after the first attempt on his life, Cardwell claimed ignorance.

Gary Tison was a prime suspect in the Serra slaying, though he was never indicted. Sometime in the autumn of 1976, Joe Tison visited his brother at the prison. Gary told Joe that he had been contacted about making "a hit on a dude in the land fraud." Gary told hid brother the inmates name was Serra and that he had been offered $50,000 "to take care of it."

Shortly after Serra was killed, an ex-convict, Glenn Scott Thornton, placed a large sum of cash in a safe deposit box at a Scottsdale bank. At one time Thornton had shared a cell with Gary Tison. Now he was one of Tisons contacts on the outside.

By this time Gary had been in the medium-security Annex two months. Tison's good fortune-his transfer and the money he was paid for the Serra murder-was reflected in the optimism he expressed in the Christmas letter he wrote to his sister Kay. Gary was not only anticipating an escape, he also had visions of sitting down over rum and cokes in some Central American country to negotiate a movie contract for the script he intended to write about it.

(Clarke goes on to detail how Gary Tison, a two time convicted murderer, was rewarded for this hit by transfer to minimum security where he was allowed by prison officials to excape. This excape turned into a killing rampage where Tison and his partner cold bloodedly murdered an entire family and a couple on their honeymoon. B.Q.)

source:http://www.dcia.com/




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