Man arrested trying to dig up legendary buried treasure at Casino heir’s ranch

Police say a man arrested for allegedly breaking into a ranch once owned by a Las Vegas casino heir may have been trying to dig up treasure rumoured to have been buried on the property.

Lieutenant David Boruchowitz of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office said 56-year-old Richard Cleaves was arrested on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and destruction of property.

He said Cleaves was a former manager of the rural Nevada ranch formerly owned by casino mogul Ted Binion, who was murdered 20 years ago.

Investigators found holes dug on the grounds in an apparent attempt to locate a AU$9 million silver fortune Mr Binion is believed to have buried before his mysterious death.

They also recovered CCTV allegedly showing Cleaves and two unidentified men carrying shovels on March 30.

Mr Binion, 55, was found drugged and asphyxiated at the ranch in 1998. His live-in stripper girlfriend Sandra Murphy and her lover Rick Tabish were convicted of his murder and stealing from his vault.

The pair’s sensational 2000 murder trial wove together tales of greed, drugs, sex, money and casino lore.

Tabish, Murphy’s secret lover, was a contractor who helped Mr Binion build an underground vault to store his silver.

Prosecutors alleged that Murphy and Tabish forced the eccentric multi-millionaire to ingest lethal levels of heroin and the antidepressant Xanax before suffocating him.

Two others, David Mattsen and Michael Milot were arrested with Tabish two days after Mr Binion was found dead. The trio had dug up the silver with heavy equipment.

In 2004, Tabish and Murphy were acquitted of the murder charges in 2004 after the Nevada Supreme Court granted a new trial. The second jury convicted them of charges related to silver theft.

Although authorities have said all the silver buried at the ranch was recovered during the attempted theft, rumours persist more treasure is hidden there and at Mr Binion’s other properties.

The casino heir was known to have a habit of burying things that were valuable to him.

In 2001, a day after the third anniversary of Mr Binion’s death, landscapers found a freshly dug hole near a cubby house he built for his daughter in the backyard of his vacant Las Vegas mansion.

“Somebody went on a treasure hunt,” Mr Binion’s longtime friend and lawyer James J. Brown told the Reno Gazette Journal.

During the murder investigation the estate received an anonymous tip that suggested Mr Binion had buried valuables under the cubby house, which sits on a concrete slab.

But Mr Brown said the estate decided against digging up the yard at the time.

“If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could dig forever,” he said.