Organized crime finds a home at Tom Handy’s hotels

Why would criminals feel so comfortable at a Commonwealth Attorney’s establishments?

Consider the following excerpts from news articles:

The year was 1973. “…he and his brother [Tom Handy] built Harvest Inn just off the interstate…followed the next year by Ramada Inn…“-Nita Johnson,”Coming Home,” Sentinel Echo, August 26, 2010.

“[Horace P.] Gill was a legitimate businessman engaged in an honest business and had a high reputation in Florida. Gill most likely never really knew the treachery of some of the men he was dealing with In Kentucky. He may have heard tales of organized crime in the coal industry, but he may have shrugged these off as sensationalism. In the end, it cost him his life.” -July 20, 1976 Corbin Times-Tribune

“(Horace) Gill and (Curtis W.) Murphy, contractors who left their home state in early 1975 to try their luck in Kentucky coalfields, were shot at point-blank range near an A-frame cottage on Wood Creek Lake sometime the night of December 17. Sam King, KSP detective, said the killer or killers stood over the victims and finished them off with repeated blasts…The suspect, [Vanis Robbins] under provisions of Nevada law, had registered with LVPD [Las Vegas Police Department] as an ex-convict on January 26, 1976. During the spring, Robbins worked as a pitboss for the Jackpot Casino. A pitboss, among other responsibilities, supervises casino personnel in the immediate gaming area, acts as a “bouncer” if the need arises and otherwise ensures that the 24-hour-a-day routine at the gaming tables runs smoothly. In short, a pitboss is usually an experienced person who has worked in other gambling jobs previously and has the confidence of his employers. During the fall of 1975, Robbins almost became a “regular” at Harvest Inn Restaurant in North London, part of the motel complex owned, ironically, by the Handy family.” –July 27, 1976, Corbin Times-Tribune

“If London’s Ramada Inn was the nighttime watering hole for coal operators, then Harvest Inn Restaurant in North London was the daytime meeting spot. Scores of coal business people both large and small lived in the adjoining motel. They came and went in a seemingly never-ending whirl. Gathered around coffee in convenient nooks of Harvest Inn, they talked of money, machines and always coal. They bragged, they argued, they sometimes conspired, but always, their whole day revolved around coal and the money it would give them. Waitresses who worked at the restaurant in the summer and fall of last year remember those days very well…Ramada Inn, they say, was even better. Regular meetings became the custom with many coal men who staked out certain tables as their own. Lines of four-wheel-drive vehicles were parked in front of Harvest Inn, interspersed with Cadillac Eldorado, and Lincoln Continentals. The boom was on for sure.  John Waits became one of the regulars by September.”-Corbin Times Tribune, July 9, 1976

“Alexander Guterma, defendant in large stock-fraud cases more than a decade ago …. Louis Chesler, Canadian promoter who helped introduce casino gambling to a Bahama island Christie Vitolo, defendant in a landmark federal securities-law case. . . . These are some of the people that Louisville developer John Waits met in seeking investors for Kentucky coal ventures.”- Corbin Times-Tribune, July 4, 1976

Meet Octavio, Glennis and Troy

From the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, July 18, 1974:

“About 5 a.m., January 10, 1973, United States customs agents stopped four cars traveling together near the Leesburg Airport, Florida. The agents arrested six persons caught redhanded with a total of 1947 pounds of marijuana. The defendants-appellants, Arias, Hondares, [Octavio] Pino, Zarzabal, Curbelo, and Quinones, were indicted, each on three charges of violating the marijuana laws: conspiring to import and distribute marijuana; knowingly and intentionally importing marijuana; and knowingly and intentionally possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it…

“…The meeting took place at 11 a.m. the next morning; Curbelo, Ortiz, Dace, and [Octavio] Pino were present. Dace said that a friend of Curbelo’s needed money and had about 1800 pounds of marijuana in Colombia for sale…They told Ortiz how to make the connection in Colombia.”

After these charges in Florida, Octavio Pino pops up again in the 1980s. Guess where?

“From evidence gathered by court-ordered wiretaps, FBI agent John Gill said Pino and four others were involved in a conspiracy to kill Jim Rion, reportedly of Manchester. As a result of his alleged involvement in the drugs and murder conspiracy, Judge Siler set Pino’s bond at a whopping $1.5 million in cash, one of the highest bonds ever set by Siler.

“[Special Agent John] Gill testified that Pino and the others falsely believed Rion to be a government informant. He said Rion ‘may have shot his mouth off’ but was not an informant. Gill said the only evidence the FBI had linking Rion to the alleged drug ring was a picture of Rion and Pino in front of the Ramada Inn in London last November.”  -Corbin Times-Tribune, October 10, 1982

In front of the Ramada Inn. That’s where Octavio the Cuban, whose been smuggling Columbian narcotics, surfaces… in front of Tom Handy’s very own hotel in London, Kentucky. The FBI even had a picture of it.


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