Casino is GOD
HOUSTON – Robert Angleton had a dry mouth and an upset stomach as he made his break for Europe. He nearly threw up on the way to the airport, and his armpits were soaked.
When the plane left an hour late, he worried that authorities had discovered his plans to leave the United States days before his federal murder-for-hire trial in his wife’s killing.
“Can’t be too obvious, but preparing for a guilty verdict needs almost same prep as fleeing,” Angleton, a former millionaire bookie, scrawled in a 10-page diary as he made his way from Houston to Amsterdam in 2003.
Prosecutors submitted the journal as evidence in their passport fraud case against Angleton. He pleaded guilty in December to passport fraud, but not to fleeing to escape the murder-for-hire charge.
He faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced for the passport fraud charge in March, but first he faces trial Feb. 22 on a tax evasion charge. He’s accused of taking more than $64 million in bets in the mid-1990s but reporting only $2.6 million.
Angleton and his brother, Roger, were charged in state court with capital murder in the 1997 shooting death of Doris Angleton. She was found shot 13 times in the couple’s home in Houston’s tony River Oaks neighborhood.
Robert Angleton was acquitted in 1998 after Roger Angleton killed himself in jail. Roger Angleton left a suicide note taking responsibility for the slaying and said his brother was innocent.
During his murder-for-hire trial, prosecutors claimed Angleton, a former police informant, plotted his wife’s slaying, promising his brother $1 million to carry out the hit.
Defense attorneys said Roger Angleton carried out the murder to extort money from his brother, who was credited with helping police break up one of Houston’s largest and most sophisticated illegal gambling operations.
Shortly after Angleton’s acquittal, a federal grand jury began investigating and in 2002 indicted the oddsmaker on murder-for-hire and a firearms charge.
About 18 months later, in the days leading up to his federal trial, Angleton headed to Europe. He indicated in his journal he didn’t like his chances in federal court.
“Going to jail for life is a for sure dead end,” he wrote. “So this is the only choice. The way I’ve lived for the last year has felt like I’m decaying inside.”
The journal details Angleton’s concerns, uncertainties and his desire to communicate with his twin daughters, who are now 20. He made notations about discarding “suicide notes” and interviews with an author writing a book about his case. He also left behind instructions to erase the hard drive on his laptop computer.
He worried his luggage might be lost.
“That would be 90k down the toilet,” wrote Angleton. “As it turns out I should have kept it on me. Cross my fingers about a lot right now.”
During his trip, Angleton, 56, wrote of how his passport didn’t read correctly at one checkpoint. A qiu qiu online agent told Angleton there was something sticky on it. Angleton wrote that it was probably the cheap glue he used to put the passport together.
“He rubbed it and rubbed it,” Angleton wrote. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m caught and off to the hooscow for me.’ Then he shrugs … and tells me to have a good flight.”
Angleton wondered if he should grow facial hair to disguise himself.
“It only takes one to recognize me,” he wrote. “I could hide in Greece because I speak the language, but Europe overall is too expensive. South America looks attractive. Mmm. Well, one day at a time.”
He didn’t make it beyond The Netherlands, where authorities stopped him because of the altered passport. He remained in Dutch custody for more than a year before he was extradited.
A Dutch court found that double-jeopardy clauses in the 1983 extradition treaty and European law prohibited Angleton’s extradition on the murder-for-hire charge because he had been cleared in state court. But the Dutch court ruled Angleton could be returned to face the passport fraud and tax evasion charges.
Angleton tried to get the federal murder-for-hire charge thrown out by claiming double jeopardy. But a judge ruled that federal and state governments can each try a defendant if the act violated federal and state laws. That ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite the Dutch court’s finding that the federal murder-for-hire charge constitutes double-jeopardy, Angleton’s defense attorney has said the extradition agreement allows prosecutors to pursue the murder-for-hire charge 30 days after he completes any sentence he receives in the passport fraud and tax evasion cases.
Federal prosecutors say the law does not allow them to try Angleton on the murder-for-hire charge now, but they could prosecute it later. There is no statute of limitations in murder cases.
“Imagine trying to prepare your life for the possibility that you’ll never (get) to hold or hug your children, your friends again,” Angleton wrote. “Never to write a check, never to choose the channel on a TV, never to just be done and relax, never to feel safe, never plunge into the ocean, never to just pick up a phone, never to make a sandwich the way you want, never to truly laugh …
“All this we take for granted,” he wrote. “After one year locked up, I learned what freedom really is. It’s an inner feeling and not something that is given to us by the politicians but by God.”