Tom Diaz


In Crime, Gangs, Latino gangs, Transnational crime on June 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm

You knew it was bound to happen.  Sex, lawyers, and publicity almost always equal = goofy idea.

Found Dead In Closet

Found Dead In Closet

Kung Fu actor David Carradine was found hanging in a Bangkok closet, tied up in an…unusal…configuration of rope.

“This certainly was not a natural cause of death,” Nantana Sirisap, the chief coroner, was quoted as saying in what was perhaps an unintentional masterpiece of understatement.

Now comes celebrity lawyer to the stars and other famous people accused of criminal wrongdoing Mark Geragos, telling CNN host Larry King that Carradine’s family wants the FBI to help the Bangkok police investigate the actor’s bizarre death:

BANGKOK (AP) — The family of American actor David Carradine has asked the FBI to help investigate his death after his body was found in a hotel closet in Thailand’s capital with a rope tied to his neck, wrist and genitals.

Carradine’s family does not believe he committed suicide and is troubled by conflicting accounts about the circumstances of his death, Mark Geragos, an attorney for brother Keith Carradine, told CNN’s Larry King late Friday.

“They want an investigation,” Geragos said. “I would think that the people in Bangkok would want to support an investigation and allow the FBI to go over there and assist in the investigation so we can get the answers to the questions.”

Thai police said Saturday they have not been contacted by the FBI.

In the unlikely case that it’s slipped your mind who Geragos is, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia, chronicler of the 21st Century:

Mark John Geragos (born October 5, 1957) is an American criminal defense attorney best known for defending the musician Michael Jackson, actress Winona Ryder, politician Gary Condit, and Susan McDougal, who was involved in the Whitewater scandal. He also represented Scott Peterson, in another trial that received widespread media attention. He’s currently representing Paul and Kuhlbir Dhaliwal, two brothers injured after a tiger escaped in San Francisco Zoo, and pop superstar Chris Brown, accused of assaulting Grammy award winning entertainer Rihanna. He is considered a “celebrity lawyer”.

Larry King and Mark Geragos, Two Prominent Planetoids Whizzing About the Celebrity Constellation

Larry King and Mark Geragos, Two Prominent Planetoids Whizzing About the Celebrity Constellation

No doubt the Carradine family is shocked and grieved about the case.  But not every celebrity death is a federal case.  And some lawyers — I am sad to report — have been known to use this kind of spectacularly publicized request as a way to boost their profile.

Thai authorities have welcomed the idea with a whiff of, again, perhaps unintended humor, leavened with a dash of Police Academy put-down, according to this blog post:

Bangkok officials, who have since reneged on their initial theory that the 72-year-old’s committed suicide, said that the FBI would be welcomed simply as observers—the only position allowed for a foreign body under Thai law.

“If the FBI wants to get involved, we will do our best to cooperate,” Thai police Maj. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano told reporters at a press conference today. “We have nothing to hide.”

Meanwhile, The — as the site is wont to do — has posted a salacious excerpt from a court filing by Carradine’s ex-wife, knotting up the mysterious circumstances  even more.  Here is The Smoking Gun’s take, and the excerpt is here:

Carradine’s “Deviant Sexual Behavior”
Ex-wife accused actor of “potentially deadly” acts in court filing

JUNE 5–As investigators try to determine how actor David Carradine wound up hanging naked and dead in a Bangkok hotel closet with a rope tied around his genitals, a review of divorce court filings shows that his most recent ex-wife once accused the actor of “deviant sexual behavior which was potentially deadly.” Additionally, Marina Anderson alleged in a sworn declaration that Carradine engaged in an “incestuous relationship with a very close family member.” Anderson’s declaration, an excerpt of which you’ll find below, was filed in mid-2003 in Los Angeles Superior Court (the document was supposed to be filed under seal but was mistakenly placed in the public court file, where TSG found it). The declaration does not detail Carradine’s alleged “deviant sexual behavior.” As for the incest charge, Anderson reported that Carradine and the unnamed relative admitted the taboo relationship, but that her “pleas for him to get counseling in regards to this matter were ignored and he wanted no part in the healing process the other person needed in order to get closure.” In a phone interview today, Anderson, who was married to Carradine for four years, said she stands by the allegations in her court filing, but declined to further discuss her charges. A Bangkok police official told reporters that investigators were examining whether Carradine accidentally suffocated while engaging in an autoerotic sex act.

The authorities claim to have ruled out participation by another person in the bizarre drama:

Col. Somprasong Yenthuam, who is heading the investigation, said police have interviewed all staff at the hotel where Carradine was staying and reviewed surveillance footage outside his room. Based on that, they have found no evidence that anyone was in Carradine’s room before he died which they said all but ruled out foul play.

The inference has been drawn by some, perhaps many, that Carradine was thus obviously  a victim of an attempt at an act of auto-erotic asphyxia gone awry.  Here’s an excerpt from an old article in Britain’s The Independent that explains how this can happen:

Auto-erotic asphyxia is a method of increasing sexual excitement by restricting the oxygen supply to the brain, usually by tightening a noose around the neck. Although usually associated with hardcore sexual masochists it often arouses interest among the less experienced – curious schoolboys and young men keen to experiment with masturbation in the belief that the practice heightens sensation at orgasm. While rumours about how and why to do it abound in all-male locker rooms and dormitories, what is not passed on is the fact that it can be fatal.

‘When pressure is put on the vagus nerve in the neck, instantaneous death can happen,’ explains Dr (Peter) Dean, a coroner in Essex (England). ‘The sudden increase in pressure sends a message to the heart to shut down and a sudden cardiac death will result. This is why this practice is immensely hazardous and extremely dangerous.’

The vagus nerve plays a major role in the human nervous system, travelling from the brain-stem to all the major organs. Pressure on it can slow down the heart-beat and even stop it completely.

Vagus_nerves“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” some might say. But, leave the vagus nerve out of it, seems to be the message.  According to ABC News, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates there are between 500 and 1,000 such deaths in the United States annually, mostly among young men. Many more may be falsely ruled as homicides or suicides.”  They keep statistics on the oddest things.  This may be worse than Swine Flu, or H1N1. or whatever it’s called now.

Be that as it may, Mark is ramping it up:

Carradine’s brother Keith met Friday with the FBI and filed reports that could lead to the agency opening its own inquiry, said Geragos, who represents Keith Carradine. The family will also seek a private autopsy by famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to determine whether another person could have been involved, Geragos said.

But TMZ has found an expert who pooh-poohs the theory that another person would have to be involved to tie the knots:

David Carradine’s hands were tied above his head when he died — turns out, in the world of auto-erotic suspension, it’s an easy task to master.

Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist and criminal profiler who has studied auto-erotic asphyxiation, has examined the photo of Carradine’s body published in a Thai newspaper. The photo shows the body with a rope around his neck hanging in a closet … Carradine’s hands were tied above his head.

Turvey says it’s simple for someone to tie rope around his/her hands, by loosely tying the hands in front — then raising them up to tighten.

Turvey says undoing the knot is easy as well, allowing for a quick escape.

Turvey says, “By tying his hands above his head, and bending his knees in a sitting position, he can easily stand up and untie his hands with his teeth. Choking in this position is an accident that usually results from the rope being left on the neck a few seconds too long.”

Making A Slip Knot

Making A Slip Knot

The case is Gordian, but, please, Director Mueller, can we  just leave the FBI out of the investigation of this one?

You may have better things to do with your not inexhaustible supply of special agents.  Investigating gangs, for example, that threaten the safety of the rest of us non-celebrity commoners, right here at home, in the U.S. of A., a land far, far away from exotic, erotic Bangkok.

“Tom Diaz has worn out some shoe leather—much like a good detective—in gathering facts, not myths or urban legend. “

—Chris Swecker, Former Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“Few people know more about the subject than Tom Diaz and no single book tells the whole story better than No Boundaries. If you really want to know what organized crime in America looks like today, then read this alarming book.”

—Rocky Delgadillo, former City Attorney of Los Angeles

Order No Boundaries from

Here is a timely media release, issued by the FBI just this past week, on its activity in that area:

Highlighting Recent FBI Gang Investigations

The U.S. is seeing a rise in gang membership across the country and as membership spreads from urban to suburban areas, so does the associated criminal activity. Gangs are involved not only in auto theft, assault, home invasions, armed robbery, and extortion, but also in fraud, identity theft, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, alien smuggling, and murder.

“As our communities are exposed to higher levels of crime and violence, the FBI, along with local, state, and federal partners, are responding with an even greater measure of significant law enforcement action,” according to Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser, FBI Criminal Investigative Division. “The goal is to take these violent offenders off the streets and make our neighborhoods safer.”

A selection of recent press releases from 2009 listed below reflects how law enforcement is disrupting and dismantling these violent gangs:

* On 01/12/2009, 10 members and associates of the Florencia 13 (F13) street gang were convicted on federal criminal charges, including racketeering and narcotics distribution. They were among 102 defendants named in four indictments in 2007 as part of Operation Joker’s Wild.

* On 02/13/2009, Operation Keys to the City led to 36 defendants charged with federal racketeering conspiracy, firearm offenses and drug trafficking violations. The year-long investigation targeted the criminal activities of the Mexican Mafia, Hispanic street gangs with ties to the Mexican Mafia, and the Mexico-based Arellano-Felix drug trafficking organization.

* On 02/17/2009, a “G-Mob” gang member pled guilty in a nationwide, million-dollar bank fraud scheme.

* On 02/25/2009, 15 individuals were indicted in a Charlotte-area drug conspiracy arising from their participation in an organization with ties to the United Blood Nation.

* On 03/07/2009, over 500 law enforcement personnel executed 29 search warrants, arrested 30 gang members and associates, and seized drugs, firearms, and vehicles in a massive sweep targeting the violent East Palo Alto/Menlo Park-based Taliban gang.

* On 04/01/2009, the National President of the Devil’s Diciples [sic] Motorcycle Gang was indicted for being a violent felon in possession of body armor, and 17 other members were charged in related criminal complaints.

* On 04/08/2009, 12 alleged members of the Puro Lil Mafia (PLM) street gang operating in Wichita Falls, Texas, were indicted on federal weapons and/or narcotics charges. More Weeks later, PLM gang leader Mauricio Diaz indicted on federal weapons and narcotics charges.

* On 04/16/2009, the ringleader of a gang conspiracy to import and distribute multi-kilo quantities of methamphetamine from California to Louisiana received a life sentence in Lafayette, Louisiana.

* On 04/22/2009, Oscar Omar Lobo-Lopez was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering activity, murder in aid of racketeering activity, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death.

* On 04/22/2009, two dozen individuals associated with the Mexican Mafia and other Hispanic street gangs were charged federally for their roles in a narcotics distribution ring operating in the San Fernando Valley.

* On 04/23/2009, Raza Unida prison gang members and associates were indicted on drug trafficking and firearms charges in Operation Lunar Eclipse.

* On 05/14/2009, Bloods Street Gang members and criminal associates were arrested for narcotics and weapons violations.

* On 05/14/2009, 74 members and associates of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club were charged in a superseding indictment with participating in the affairs of a corrupt organization through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, distributing controlled substances, and committing various federal gun violations.

* On 05/20/2009, Michael Vasquez was sentenced to 111 months in federal prison for his role in a gang-related shooting that left a toddler seriously injured.

* On 05/21/2009, approximately 1,400 law enforcement officers participated in the nation’s largest-ever gang sweep, arresting 88 individuals named in a federal RICO indictment that describes a war against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, as well as systematic efforts to rid the community of African-Americans with a campaign of shootings and other attacks. The investigation into the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang began after the fatal shooting of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz. The action was part of Operation Knock Out, which has led to the indictments of 147 defendants to date.

* On 05/29/2009, eight Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation gang members pled guilty to a variety of charges, including drug conspiracy and weapons trafficking.

* On 06/01/2009, eight Bloods Street Gang members were charged in a federal indictment with conspiring to organize a sect of the Bloods in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The charges allege that, in furtherance of the conspiracy, they committed robberies affecting interstate commerce, carjacking, and weapons offenses.

Man, those FBI cats have been kung-fu fightin‘!

Can we please just let them keep doing that?

Not FBI Agents

Not FBI Agents--Foo Fighters

  1. Yes, I agree. Why drag the FBI and high-profile lawyers into it…it was a horrible accident it seems. Rest in peace, David.

  2. it would seem that Uma Thurman finally finished the job she set out to do years ago

  3. […] manhunt, Jenkins apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in a motel closet. Unless he was doing a David Carradine, this is not a sign of innocence. Flight in and of itself is generally evidence of a guilty […]

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