Raise the spirits from the wreckage of Flight 5191, trace their mortal footsteps, and the world goes grey, vacant of color, somewhere in the midst of the Marcie Thomason file. One day you find an obituary in the Virginia Pilot and read that Marcie Thomason was an aggressive soccer player, and for some reason this burns out the last of your defenses ... a spirited athlete ... grief overwhelms you: " ... She attended Cassidy Elementary School, Lexington Traditional Magnet School and Henry Clay High School, graduated with highest honors as Salutatorian in 1999. At Henry Clay she was a National Merit Finalist, a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Student Council, Anchor Club and SADD. She was selected as a member of the Central Kentucky Youth Salute and received numerous academic recognitions. Marcie was a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church in Lexington.
"During her middle and high school years, Marcie excelled at soccer. She began playing Select Club soccer at the age of 11. Her club soccer teams were State Champions five times and State Runner-Up once ... "
Pull on a thread and a mountain falls on top of you. When you think of Marcie Thomason, the grief returns and you are broken, stare into the void – demand that it give her back to those who loved her ... but there is only one exit from this grey world, you hesitate to realize – keep burrowing, research a tunnel out of this ...
The discoloring pall of death is the soul of The Company ... there are innumerable other casualties ... drug addicts ... dead witnesses ... whistle-blowers ... the body count doesn't appear in the Kentucky census ("Lives Lost to The Company"), but it's much higher than most statisticians would imagine.
How many Marcie Thomasons have died to protect federal and state officials and their blue-blooded patricians steeped in narcotics, money laundering and murder?
Sally Denton's Bluegrass Conspiracy documented the life and absurd death of Lexington cop Andrew Carter "Drew" Thornton II, former Army paratrooper, racehorse breeder, thrill-seeking guns-and-drugs smuggler (and incompetent parachutist) "whose tentactles extend[ed] into the highest levels of state government, national law enforcement and top-secret military installations ... assassins, mercenaries, governors ... "280
Retired police detective Ralph E. Ross, the investigative core of Denton's book, "saw patterns in John Y.'s behavior that date back to his formative years. ... Surprisingly, the state police didn't have any information on Brown because he had kept a low profile. He had spent most of his adult life in Tennessee, Florida, and Nevada, jetting in and out of Kentucky for parties." While still in college, Brown talked about following in his father's footsteps and running for the Senate. "In 1960, John Y. met Bob Strauss [see parts 1, 17-suppl. & 31], founding partner of Akin Gump [parts 18 & 30fn.], who was spearheading fundraising efforts for the Democratic National Committee. John F. Kennedy was running for president and Strauss had encouraged Brown to become chairman of Kennedy's campaign in Kentucky."281
Dallas attorney Robert Strauss is a former business partner of James A. Baker III, ambassador to Moscow, friend of GHW Bush. He and his son Richard Strauss were embroiled in failed Gibraltar Savings, chaired by Darwin Deason's partner J. Livingston Kosberg (see parts 1 & 13), and other S&L disasters in Texas.
The Brown-Strauss connection was enduring. In the 1970s, Lams sold some 350 restaurants to Mafia frontman Brown and Ted Strauss, Robert's brother. "Nevada and New Jersey gaming authorities, the SEC, as well as the Dade County Organized Crime Strike Force in Florida, had pored over the transactions." Brown was "sensitive" about these purchases and refused to discuss them with the press. He argued that his "personal dealings" were "no one's business."282
In the governor's mansion, Denton reported, Brown assembled a cabinet "comprised of wealthy and prominent businessmen" – including Betty Young's brother-in-law, KFC director W.T. Young – their slogan: "Kentucky and Company – The State that's Run Like a Business." Three men ran the Brown campaign – Larry G. Townsend, Bruce Lunsford and Frank Metts. Today, Townsend is a director of U.S. Wireless. From a June, 2005 company press release announcing Townsend's appointment to the board:
"Mr. Townsend's professional experience includes serving as an insurance executive, real estate developer, gubernatorial campaign manager, political fundraiser, restaurateur, community leader and inventor. Mr. Townsend is currently Chairman and CEO of Riverboat Development, Inc. (RDI), where he is a co-owner with Caesar's Indiana Riverboat Casino, the world's largest riverboat casino complex. Mr. Townsend previously served as Secretary of Commerce under Kentucky Governors Julian M. Carroll and John Y. Brown, Jr. ... Mr. Townsend is extremely dedicated to philanthropic ventures. He is the Founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, an $80 million dollar project, where he currently serves as Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors. ... Mr. Townsend served as a member of the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Metropolitan Zoning Commission, was the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, and served on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Industrial Development Finance Authority."284
Bruce Lunsford was recruited by Brown from the law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp – S&L thief Charles Keating's Cincinnati office. Lunsford learned the business ropes under Brown's auspices. "I was around a lot of people like Frank Metts and W. T. Young who had successfully started several companies from scratch," Lunsford told Louisville magazine in January 1992. Lunsford is currently president, chairman and CEO of Vancare, one of the largest diversified health care providers in the United States.285
Brown's gubernatorial campaign was housed at the Pearson Funeral Home Building, appropriately enough, then owned by late entepreneurial "legend" Frank Metts, owner of the DuPont Square medical center, today home of the Filson Club Historical Society.286
Drew Thornton's partner-in-crime was "super-narc" William T. Canan, "considered my most who knew him to be an egomaniacal misfit with a penchant for brutality." Bill Canan was "somehow able to inspire fanatical devotion from his fellow undercover team members. He had become a devotee of mind control."287
Canan was a key Company connection to Adnan Khashoggi's 70-acre Triad Farm, where Drew Thornton stored his weapon stockpiles. Neighbors of Triad "reported to state police that a cult of devil worshippers frequented the remote property, and that the constant firing of automatic weapons could be heard. Dozens of people wearing military camouflage uniforms were seen rappelling from the back cliffs of Triad."288
In 1979, the police received a tip that a white, twin-engine Piper Najavo had been spotted gliding at a low elevation over the Triad farm. "I heard an engines start as the plane came out of the glide. then duffel bags dropped out of the plane and [it]
turned northeast toward Lexington." The aircraft was traced by police, and it was discovered that the Piper had been seized by authorities off the South American coast. The pilots were Bill Canan and a fellow Lexington cop, Steve Oliver, "identified by U.S. customs agents the previous month, August 1979, as ferrying handguns to the remote Dutch Antilles island of Aruba."289
Melanie Flynn, a girlfriend of Canan's, disappeared on January 26, 1977. Her car was found a week later, parked in an apartment complex – a rotting gantlet of hovels – in north Lexington.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that she was "involved in her husband's work."291 Unfortnately, her husband's work involved covering up Company murders ...
Within two months of her disappearance, Bizzack announced that Melanie Flynn had decamped to Florida and was "still alive." Sally Denton: "Bizzack said that Melanie had been identified through photographs, personal belongings, and activities and that she had been living in Daytona Beach since March. Admitting that he had not actually found her, Bizzack claimed to have interviewed 600 people during his investigation, but refused to identify the witnesses or reveal any evidence to either the family or the media."292
Melanie's parents turned to A.B. "Happy" Chandler, the former governor of Kentucky, to exert influence on state police, but were advised that they could only open an investigation if kidnap was suspected. But an FBI agent in Florida agreed to retrace Bizzack's investigation, talked to many of the witnesses, and reported back, "it wasn't her."
"It was a delicate situation," Denton wrote. "The Lexington police had already announced that the case was solved, and the local papers had printed stories praising Bizzack's efforts. Ralph [Ross] took his case file to a reporter at the Lexington Leader. ... The reporter declined to pursue the story."
Twenty-nine years later, this reporter has urged reporters at the Herald-Leader to investigate the Comair crash – they have also refused to pursue the story.
The more things change ...
[To be continued ... ]
280.) Denton, p. xii.
281.) Ibid., p. 160.
282.) Ibid., p. 165.
283.) Dan Moldea, "MCA Music & the Mafia: Did the Justice Department cut Reagan's Hollywood pals a break?"first published in Regardie's, June 1988.
Also see, William Knoedelseder, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia, HarperCollins, 1993.
284.) "U.S. Wireless Online Appoints Larry G. Townsend and Donald L. Perlyn to Board of Directors," U.S. Wireless release, June 17, 2005.
285.) "Vencor, Inc.,"
286.) "The Hysteria Over The 2007 Governor's Race," Bluegrass report, November 27, 2006.
287.) Denton, p. 9.
288.) Ibid., p. 114.
289.) Ibid., p. 115.
290.) see: www.lagrangepolice.com/2005_Law%20Manual_8.5X11.pdf
291.) Linda B. Blackford, "Carole Bizzack: She was to meet sister in Atlanta for Alaska cruise," Kentucky Herald-Leader, August 28, 2006.
292.) Denton, p. 11.