Las Vegas isn’t called Sin City for nothing. As a city that fully embraces the base side of human nature, it should come as no surprise that it’s played host to an array of shocking crimes. From the infamous murder of rapper Tupac Shakur to the kidnapping of the offspring of casino moguls, the history of Las Vegas is littered with in-depth and dastardly plots to break the law for a wide array of nefarious reasons. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the top three crimes of Sin City, providing a mere glimpse of the desert town’s criminal past.
Smoking and Driving
Driving while under the influence may not strike you as the most notable of crimes, but the unique story of a 21-year-old exotic dancer named Jessica Williams may change your mind. In 2000, Williams careened off the interstate through a group of teenagers cleaning trash from the roadside for petty offenses. By the time the van had stopped, six teenagers were dead, and Williams was left to pick up the pieces. When authorities arrived at the scene, she claimed that she had fallen asleep at the wheel, but she also admitted to having smoked marijuana two hours earlier. Although she appeared alert, blood tests showed that Williams had exceeded the legal limit for marijuana metabolite, leading to her arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated. However, marijuana metabolites can remain in a person’s blood for up to 30 days after using marijuana, despite the dissipation of its psychological effects. The loophole in the law led to 48 years in prison for Williams, and the law that she was convicted under remains unchanged.
Billy Coulthard was a Las Vegas fixture and a well-known attorney and businessman with an ownership stake in the plot of land under the Horseshoe Casino. In the early 1970s, when the lease for the Horseshoe was set to expire, Coulthard refused to renew it, meaning that owner Benny Binion was at risk of losing the casino he had spent his entire life building. On July 25, 1972, Coulthard’s car was rigged to explode, and the investor was killed in a murder that remains unsolved. According to FBI records, Binion was likely responsible, as the remaining landlords quickly approved a 100-year lease for the Horseshoe following the event.
Spilotro and the Gang
Tony “The Ant” Spilotro gained recognition as a mob enforcer throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but he was also the leader of one of Vegas’s most notorious band of thieves, The Hole in the Wall Gang. Spilotro’s group robbed local drug dealers and performed burglaries targeting jewelry stores and other high-end retailers. In 1981, six members of the gang were arrested, and the mob didn’t appreciate the extra attention. Prior to his trial, Spilotro was summoned to rural Indiana for a business meeting with a group of mafia hit men. If you’d like to learn more about Spilotro, check out Joe Pesci’s role in the 1995 film Casino.
Las Vegas history is peppered with high-profile crimes worthy of review. Check out the diversity of Sin City’s criminal past for yourself, and take it all in on your next trip to Clark County’s most famous destination.