In early 1977, Ray Massud promised Anthony Leisure, cousin of
David Leisure, that he would succeed Massud as the business
manager of Local 110 of the Laborers Union in St. Louis.
While in the hospital with a terminal illness,
Massud changed his mind and asked Anthony Leisure to accept the
position of assistant business manager so that his son, John
Massud, could serve as business manager of the union. Leisure
agreed to the new arrangement.
The agreement took effect on June 30, 1977
following Ray Massud's death. Leisure would be in charge of
hiring and firing union officers and John Massud would be in
charge of the business office.
John Massud expanded his authority outside
the original agreement and hired union officers without
consulting Anthony Leisure. Massud hired Vince Giordano as a
union organizer and Mike Trupiano as President of the Union.
Both Giordano and Trupiano were related to Anthony Giordano, a
rival of the Leisures who headed the Italian faction of the
Angered by Massud's actions, Anthony Leisure
met with his brothers Paul and David along with Ronald Broderick,
John Ramo and Charles Loewe to discuss whether they should kill
Massud. They decided not to because of Massud's political
Citing financial problems, Massud announced
that he planned to fire Ronald Broderick from his position as a
union officer. Broderick was the only union official that
Anthony Leisure had hired.
Leisure again convened a meeting with his
brothers, Broderick, Ramo and Fred Prator to discuss whether
someone should be killed. Because the group feared the political
connections of Massud and the war that would result if they
killed a member of the Giordano family, they decided that to
kill James Michaels Sr., the head of the Laborers' Union in St.
The group surmised that by killing Mr.
Michaels they would strengthen their position in the union among
the Syrian faction, headed by Mr. Michaels. The group also
believed that Mr. Michaels had protected the murderer of David
Leisure's older brother Richard and that revenge was in order.
After an unsuccessful attempt to shoot Mr.
Michaels at a St. Louis restaurant, the Leisures and their co-conspirators
decided to bomb Mr. Michaels' car. David Leisure and John Ramo
stole a car similar to Michaels' and practiced planting a bomb.
David Leisure also followed Mr. Michaels to learn his habits.
On September 17, 1980 David Leisure spotted
Mr. Michaels' car in the parking lot of St. Raymond's Church in
St. Louis City. Anthony Leisure, Broderick and Ramo picked up a
van that belonged to Broderick's son. They drove the van to
another location where they retrieved a radio-controlled bomb.
They met David Leisure at the Church and parked the van next to
Mr. Michaels' car. David Leisure slid under the car and attached
a bomb to it.
Mr. Michaels exited the church and talked
with his grandson James for a short time. He then departed. The
group followed in the van. They followed Mr. Michaels for a
while and attempted to detonate the bomb with the radio control
to no avail.
Following Mr. Michaels on Interstate 55 the
switch was again thrown and this time the bomb was detonated,
demolishing Mr. Michaels’ automobile and throwing the upper
torso of Mr. Michaels out of his car and onto the windshield of
a vehicle following him.
The Leisures then took the van to Illinois
where they washed it and returned to Missouri where they made
further attempts to cleanse themselves and the van of traces
from the explosion.
About one week later Paul Leisure met with
the new leader of the Italian faction, John Vitale who had
replaced the deceased Anthony Giordano. Leisure and Vitale
agreed that the Syrians would control Local 110. Two relatives
of Mr. Michaels were subsequently fired from their jobs with the
After an extensive investigation, which
included law enforcement from St. Louis City and County and the
federal government, David Leisure was arrested and charged with
David R. Leisure, whose
involvement in a series of car bombings and gangland violence
rocked St. Louis in the early 1980s, is scheduled to die by
injection Sept. 1.
Leisure would become the
1st organized-crime figure executed in modern times in the
Leisure was sentenced to
death in 1987 for his role in the car bombing murder of
underworld leader James Michaels Sr., 75, as Michaels was
driving along Interstate 55 in south St. Louis County in 1980.
Leisure, 49, was just
one of many players in an organized-crime feud that left 3 dead
in St. Louis, 1 maimed in a car bombing, and the grandson of
Michaels wounded in a shotgun ambush.
Yet while many involved
in St. Louis' organized-crime faction were convicted of state or
federal crimes and sent to prison, only Leisure will be executed.
None of the others received the death penalty.
Law enforcement sources
say that Leisure was simply a follower in the Leisure gang,
headed by his cousins, Paul Leisure and Anthony Leisure.
Michaels Sr. was a
longtime organized-crime figure and boss of the Syrian-Lebanese
crime faction in St. Louis. David Leisure, also of Syrian
descent, helped kill Michaels so the Leisure clan could gain
power over a local union, Laborers Local 110.
David Leisure's lawyer,
John William Simon of Jefferson City, is fighting to avert the
execution. "The courts aren't finished with David's case," Simon
Appeals are pending
before the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. One of the main
arguments is that David Leisure's punishment is disproportionate
to those of others alleged to have been involved in the
underlying crime. There is no account in which David Leisure was
The U.S. government, in
a pre-sentence investigation report, ranked Paul Leisure 1st and
Anthony Leisure 2nd in culpability. Both men are serving life in
prison without parole.
execution would be a record 9th of the year for Missouri. It
would be carried out at Potosi Correctional Center.
On Sept. 17, 1980, David
Leisure crawled beneath Michaels' car and planted a remote-controlled
bomb as the car was parked outside St. Raymond's Maronite Church.
Michaels was inside eating lunch.
The state alleged that
Leisure had practiced the technique several times on an
identical car until he could do it flawlessly in under a minute.
After planting the
device, David Leisure was present when his cousin Anthony
Leisure detonated the bomb on I-55.
Pieces of Michaels' car
were scattered over a 200-foot radius by the force of the
explosion. Michaels' body was dismembered, and part of it was
hurled against a passing car. It took police years to unravel
the story behind the mysterious crime and the retaliations that
To avenge Michaels'
murder, friends and members of his family bombed Paul Leisure's
car as he was parked outside a home in south St. Louis. Paul
Leisure survived the attack, but it cost him part of his legs,
hands and face.
In October 1981, in
retaliation for the bombing of Paul Leisure, the Leisure gang
killed George M. "Sonny" Faheen by attaching a car bomb to his
Volkswagen Beetle. Faheen was a nephew of Michaels'. Faheen's
car was in the parking garage of the Mansion House Center.
David Leisure was
sentenced to life in prison for Faheen's murder. Leisure was
convicted of federal racketeering charges in 1985. His state
trial for his role in Michaels' murder was held in St. Louis
city circuit court in March 1987.
The state's case rested
primarily on the testimony of 2 accomplices, John Ramo and
Richard Joseph Broderick. The jury took a little more than 5
hours to find Leisure guilty of capital murder. Edward Rogers,
the assistant circuit attorney for St. Louis who prosecuted
Leisure at the state trial 12 years ago, declined to comment.
David R. Leisure, 49, 99-09-01, Missouri
David R. Leisure, condemned for the mob-related car bombings
that rocked St. Louis in the early 1980s, went to his death
quietly today in the execution chamber of the Potosi
Strapped to a gurney, Leisure looked haggard and unshaven. He
mouthed a few words of goodbye to his sister watching from a
viewing box as the first in a series of lethal drugs raced into
his veins. A priest hugged the sister, then said a prayer.
Leisure's final words, according to prison officials, were: "I
am innocent man. The lawyer who represented me was on drugs.
Tell my children, family and relatives I love them."
Leisure's chest heaved, he blinked his eyes and coughed hard.
Then, he fell silent. He was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m., 4
minutes after the procedure began.
The execution had been delayed 2 hours while the U.S. Supreme
Court considered a last-ditch appeal, in which Leisure's court-appointed
appeals team argued he was retarded and not mentally fit for
execution. The high court turned down the request at 1:10 a.m.
Leisure, 49, became the 1st organized-crime figure in the United
States to be executed since 1944.
Security was tighter than ever outside the prison. Twice the
normal number of highway patrol troopers, sheriffs deputies and
a special squad of prison guards patrolled the grounds. Every
vehicle that drove onto the prison lot, including those driven
by state witnesses, was searched for explosives by specially
In 1987, a St. Louis jury recommended that Leisure be put to
death for planting the car bomb in 1980 that killed underworld
leader James A. Michaels Sr., the reputed head of St. Louis'
Syrian crime faction. The Leisure family wanted control over
Laborers Local 110.
Leisure's attorneys painted him as a follower, someone who took
orders from his older cousins, Anthony and Paul Leisure. Anthony
Leisure detonated the bomb; Paul Leisure called the shots.
David Leisure, with a 7th-grade education, was far from
Hollywood's glitzy idea of an organized-crime figure. He worked
at a towing and salvage yard. He had an IQ of 74 and functioned
like a 10- or 12-year-old boy, 2 psychologists said. One of his
appeals lawyers, John William Simon, said: "David Leisure is to
organized crime what a mom-and-pop ice cream store is to
But federal prosecutor Thomas Dittmeier, who brought down the
Leisure gang, said David was a hands-on participant who deserved
While Leisure was one of about 10 people tied to the car
bombings of the 1980s, only he was sentenced to death. Paul and
Anthony Leisure, whom the federal government said were more
culpable in the killings, received life in prison after separate
In David Leisure's final statements today, the lawyer he claimed
was on drugs was actually a law student who was part of his
defense team at trial. That law student, Gerald Bassett,
admitted recently in an affidavit that he was heavily involved
in heroin and cocain use in the 1970s and 1980s.
On Tuesday, Leisure had a short-lived victory when U.S. District
Judge Nanette Laughrey of Kansas City issued a stay of execution
until a hearing is held on Leisure's competency. Her ruling came
down about 6 p.m.
"That sounds good," Leisure told a reporter, in an interview
from his holding cell. "But they can take that away from me?"
3 hours later, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed
Laughrey, saying the execution should go forward. Leisure's
attorneys immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. As
that court considered the appeal, Leisure's scheduled 12:01 a.m.
was postponed. Shortly after the Supreme Court denied Leisure's
appeal at 1:10 a.m., Gov. Mel Carnahan announced that he would
not stand in the way of the execution either.
Leisure spent Tuesday visiting with relatives, including his 4-year-old
grandson. He took a sedative about 7:30 p.m.
On Sept. 17, 1980, David Leisure crawled beneath Michaels' car
and planted a remote-controlled bomb as the car was parked
outside St. Raymond's Maronite Church. Michaels was inside
Leisure was present when his cousin, Anthony Leisure, detonated
the bomb on I-55. Michaels' car was scattered over a 200-foot
radius by the force of the explosion. Michaels' body was
dismembered, and part of it was hurled against a passing car.
Micheals' grandson, James A. Michaels III, recently asked Gov.
Mel Carnahan to spare Leisure's life.
G. Robert Blakey, author of the federal Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations statute and a law professor at Notre Dame,
said the Leisure gang was brought down by techniques like
"Without wiretapping, without investigative grand juries,
without a witness protection program, organized crime was above
the law in Missouri," Blakey said. "It wasn't until the federal
authorities, with those techniques, came into St. Louis and did
the investigations that the power of organized crime was broken."
Leisure becomes the 9th condemned inmate to be put to death this
year in Missouri, and the 41st overall since the state resumed
capital punishment in 1989. Only Texas, Virginia and Florida
have executed more condemned prisoners than Missouri.
(sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Rick Halperin)
852 F.2d 1045
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,
Raymond H. FLYNN, Appellant.
United States Court of Appeals,
Submitted Jan. 14, 1988.
Decided July 27, 1988.
As required for appellate
review, we state the facts in the light most favorable to
the jury's verdict. United States v. Minor, 815 F.2d 472,
473 (8th Cir.1986).
A. Spica Bombing
On October 4, 1979,
appellant Flynn became the business manager of Local 42 of
the Laborers' International Union in St. Louis, Missouri.
Shortly thereafter, Anthony Giordano, considered by many to
head the Italian organized crime faction in St. Louis,
called a meeting with Flynn and others to discuss his plans
for including an Italian influence in Local 42. To include
the Italian influence in Local 42, Anthony Giordano placed
an associate, John Paul Spica, into that Local. The Italians
at that time did control a different laborers' local, Local
Spica bragged to Paul
Leisure of his intent to kill Flynn and take over Local 42.
Paul Leisure and his brother, Anthony Leisure, were, at the
time, attempting to take control of the third laborers'
local in St. Louis, Local 110, and thus were concerned that
a successful takeover of control of Local 42 by the Italians
next would lead to an attempt by the Italians to control
Local 110. Paul Leisure, therefore, in an effort to forge an
alliance with Flynn and to more effectively thwart the
Italians' takeover attempts of Local 42, told Flynn of
Spica's intention to kill Flynn.
Paul Leisure thereupon
began a campaign to learn Spica's daily habits and to gain
his trust and confidence. His brother, Anthony Leisure,
obtained a car similar to that driven by Spica on which he
and Flynn could practice wiring a bomb to the car. Flynn and
Anthony Leisure made several attempts to place the bomb on
Spica's car. Finally, on the night of November 7-8, 1979,
they succeeded. On the morning of November 8, 1979, the bomb
exploded as Spica sat in his car, killing him.
B. Michaels, Sr. Bombing
In the meantime, beginning
in the late 1970s, Paul and Anthony Leisure encountered
difficulties in securing and maintaining control of Local
110. Prior to his death in June of 1977, Ray Massaud, Local
110's business manager, reached an agreement with Anthony
Leisure that upon Massaud's death, his son, John Massaud,
would become Local 110's business manager, but that John
would act only as a figurehead. Ray Massaud then created a
separate but equal position of assistant business manager
for Anthony Leisure with the understanding that Leisure
could hire and fire organizers and business agents for the
Local. Anthony Leisure hired Ronald Joseph Broderick, a
Leisure associate, to assist Anthony in securing control of
the union. Broderick served as a union organizer.
Over the next year, the
Leisures discovered that the agreement did not work as
planned. John Massaud hired relatives of both Giordano and
James Michaels, Sr., the reputed head of the Syrian
organized crime faction in St. Louis, without consulting
Anthony Leisure. At this time, the Leisures discussed the
possibility of murdering John Massaud, but decided against
it for fear of starting a war with the Italians.
When the Leisures learned
that Mike Trupiano, a nephew of Anthony Giordano and
president of Local 110, and John Massaud planned to fire
Broderick because Broderick was neither Italian nor Syrian,
the Leisures realized their failure in exercising complete
control over the Local. In an attempt to solidify their
power base in Local 110, the Leisure group decided that
someone had to be killed. The group considered killing
Trupiano but decided against it because they feared it would
anger some Italians. The group settled on murdering James
Michaels, Sr. Not only would his death avenge the murder of
Richard Leisure in the early 1960s,
but it would also make possible the firing of Francis
Michaels, Michaels, Sr.'s brother, and James Michaels,
Michaels, Sr.'s grandson, from the Local, thus leaving two
vacancies for Anthony Leisure to fill. Thus, in their view,
Paul Leisure would become the head of the Syrian organized
crime faction in St. Louis.
Paul and Anthony Leisure
then planned the bombing of Michaels, Sr. Leisure associate
Fred Prater constructed a bomb using a remote control device
provided by an associate, Charles Loewe. Another associate,
John Ramo, installed safety devices on the bomb. Anthony
Leisure supplied the dynamite. They stored the bomb at L.N.
& P., a towing company in St. Louis owned by the Leisures
and Fred Prater.
Various members of the
Leisure group surveilled Michaels, Sr., learning his habits
and routine. Anthony and David Leisure and Broderick watched
Michaels, Sr. on a southern Illinois golf course and David
Leisure used the apartment of a friend to observe Michaels,
Sr.'s movements at a local church where Michaels, Sr. often
ate lunch. Anthony and David Leisure practiced placing the
bomb on the underside of a stolen vehicle identical to that
driven by Michaels, Sr.
On September 17, 1980,
Anthony and David Leisure, Ramo and Broderick drove in a van
to the place where Michaels, Sr. was having lunch and David
Leisure placed the bomb on the underside of Michaels, Sr.'s
car. Paul Leisure instructed Charles Loewe to act as a
spotter in the area and to radio in any problems. As
Michaels, Sr. drove down Interstate 55 in South St. Louis
County, the bomb exploded, killing Michaels, Sr. in the
blast. Eventually, Michaels, Sr.'s relatives were driven
from Local 110.
The Government presented
no evidence implicating Flynn in the Michaels, Sr. bombing.
C. The Fredericktown
On August 11, 1981, less
than one year after the death of Michaels, Sr., Paul Leisure
sustained serious injury, losing the bottom portion of both
legs, when a bomb exploded in his car in front of his
residence in St. Louis. After learning from John Vitale, who
succeeded Giordano as head of the Italian faction of
organized crime in St. Louis, that Paul Leisure's bombing
resulted from "a family thing," the Leisure group concluded
that the Michaels family caused Paul Leisure's injuries.
Learning that local law enforcement officials focused their
investigation on the Michaels family, the Leisure group was
reinforced in this conclusion.
On one occasion, in the
few weeks following the bombing, Flynn, Anthony Leisure and
Joe Broderick drove to the Michaels family farm in
Fredericktown, Missouri, intending to kill those present. No
one was at the house, but Flynn, Anthony Leisure and
Broderick discussed ways to kill persons who might use the
house. Flynn suggested dangling dynamite down the chimney
and blowing up everyone present.
D. The Edge Shooting
In another attempt to
avenge the bombing of Paul Leisure, Anthony and David
Leisure shot John Charles Michaels, grandson of Michaels,
Sr., at The Edge Restaurant in St. Louis. Prior to the
shooting, Anthony Leisure, Joe Broderick and Fred Prater
watched the restaurant and prepared an abandoned building
next to the restaurant to facilitate the shooting and
getaway. Charles Loewe drove Anthony and David Leisure to
the site, where the Leisures fired on Michaels and a friend,
one Dennis Day. The Leisures then fled in a van driven by
The Government produced no
evidence implicating Flynn in the shooting.
E. Plans to Murder Bob
The Leisure group believed
that Bob Peters, who worked at Pepsi-Cola, was a member of
the Michaels group. They devised a plan whereby Anthony
Leisure would shoot Peters as he left work one afternoon.
They abandoned the plan when a workman appeared who may have
seen Anthony Leisure and Loewe.
F. The Faheen Bombing
The Leisures also
suspected that George "Sonny" Faheen, a nephew of Michaels,
Sr., had participated in Paul Leisure's bombing. David
Leisure, Charles Loewe and other Leisure associates,
including Michael Kornhardt, Frank Termine and Malcolm
appellant's brother, watched Faheen, learning his daily
habits, where he lived and where he worked. They obtained a
car similar to that driven by Faheen to use as a practice
vehicle for placing a car bomb.
On October 15, 1981, David
Leisure and John Ramo met Anthony Leisure, Broderick and
Flynn at a local fast food restaurant. Flynn opened the
trunk of his car revealing dynamite. Flynn commented that he
obtained it "from across the river from Ski," an apparent
reference to an associate, Stanley Kowalski, who lived in
Illinois. They placed the dynamite in David Leisure's car.
During the course of their discussions, Flynn said that he
did not think the Mansion House parking garage, where Faheen
parked his car, would serve as a good site to place a bomb
on Faheen's car because the area was too populated.
The following day, David
Leisure and Michael Kornhardt picked up a bomb from Charles
Loewe and attached the bomb to Faheen's car in the Mansion
House garage. The bomb exploded when Faheen started his car.
The explosion trapped Faheen in the car and he burned to
death. This murder underlays the interstate transportation
of explosives charge.
G. The Kornhardt Murder
Michael Kornhardt and charged him with Faheen's murder. Fred
Prater obtained Kornhardt's release on bail using Prater's
real properties as security for the bail bond. Because
various members of the Leisure group, however, believed that
Kornhardt might cooperate with the authorities, the group
planned to kill Kornhardt. Flynn expressed concern about
Kornhardt talking to law enforcement people and worried that
Kornhardt might implicate Malcolm Flinn in the Faheen
killing. David Leisure, at Paul Leisure's direction,
enlisted the aid of Robert Carbaugh and Steven Wougaman to
murder Kornhardt. On July 31, 1982, Carbaugh and Wougaman
lured Kornhardt into a rural area of St. Charles County,
Missouri, on the pretext of committing a burglary. Carbaugh
shot Kornhardt twice in the head. Carbaugh and Wougaman
thereupon became members of Local 42.
The Government presented
no evidence implicating Flynn in Kornhardt's murder.
H. Indictments and Trial
The following month, in
August of 1982, Fred Prater received a grant of immunity and
became a Government witness. On April 13, 1983, the grand
jury indicted Paul, Anthony and David Leisure, Broderick,
Ramo, Carbaugh, Loewe and Wougaman on RICO and other charges.
Ramo, Broderick and Carbaugh eventually pled guilty.
In April of 1985, a jury convicted Paul and David Leisure
and Wougaman on all counts against them. The jury, however,
convicted Anthony Leisure and Loewe only of the substantive
RICO and RICO conspiracy counts against them. This court
affirmed the convictions on appeal except for two of the
counts against Wougaman. United States v. Leisure, 844 F.2d
1347 (8th Cir.1988).