When mafia princess Susan Berman was slain in 2000, former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller was among the first notified.
“Her son called to let me know she was murdered on Christmas Eve,” Miller said Tuesday by telephone.
Miller and Berman grew up in mob families. Their fathers were executives in the mafia group that moved here in the 1950s to run the Riviera.
On Sundays, the families would run into each other at dinner at the Riviera. “I met her and knew she was Davie Berman’s daughter,” said Miller, who was 10 when his father, Ross Miller, a Chicago bookie, arrived in Las Vegas from Chicago to help turn the Riv into a cash cow for the mob.
It was a colorful crew: Davie Berman, one of the ringleaders, brought along “Ice Pick Willie” Alderman, one of Berman’s top enforcers. Gus Greenbaum, chairman of the board, would be found slain a few years later in a gangland hit.
Bob Miller went on to a political career, serving as Clark County district attorney, Nevada lieutenant governor and then governor from 1989 to 1999.
Susan Berman gravitated toward writing about her mob heritage and Las Vegas.
The mystery surrounding her death resurfaced in the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
Durst was arrested over the weekend and charged by Los Angeles authorities with murdering Berman.
Berman and Durst, a member of one of New York’s most prominent real estate families, were close friends for years.
He has been under suspicion for the deaths of three persons, going back 30 years to the disappearance of his wife.
“About two years before she was murdered, she produced a historical documentary about Las Vegas,” Miller said.
“I was one of the primary interviews. We spoke periodically thereafter. It was suspected that her writings about her father being a reputed mobster got her killed, but in interviews at the time, everyone she wrote about was already dead.”
Miller had his doubts about Berman’s death all along. His instincts as a former prosecutor led him to believe otherwise.
“I remember talking to Steve Wynn. I told him I don’t think this has anything to do with (the books),” Miller said.
“Later on this whole story of Robert Durst surfaced,” said Miller, who discusses his friendship with Berman in his book: “Son of a Gambling Man: My Journey from a Casino Family to the Governor’s Mansion.
“They were close friends, and she was his mouthpiece when he was accused of murdering his wife. She was supposedly telling people she had a big news story.”
By Norm Clarke (Review Journal)