JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

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JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:56 am

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-j ... story.html
Wrestling legend Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka is being charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for the death of his girlfriend more than 32 years ago following an assault in an Allentown area motel, Lehigh County authorities said.

The charges will be announced at a news conference this afternoon.

Snuka, 72, was arrested this morning at his New Jersey home and arraigned at 1:50 p.m. Tuesday from the Lehigh County Central Booking Center. He was sent to county jail under $100,000 bail.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin re-opened the case last year, months after The Morning Call published an investigation raising questions about the death of Snuka's girlfriend Nancy Argentino in May 1983 and revealing a never-before-seen autopsy report that labeled the case a homicide.

The grand jury's term ended at the end of July.

At the time of Argentino's death, Snuka was one of the World Wrestling Federation's biggest names known for his high-flying finishing moves.

Reached Tuesday by phone, Argentino's sister Louise Argentino-Upham said it's a relief, especially since her mother turns 90 this year and will be able to see justice served.

"I think that it's been a long road," Argentino-Upham said. "They did the right thing in face of all the evidence."

Snuka had been at a WWF taping at the Allentown Fairgrounds on May 10, 1983 and returned to his Whitehall Township motel room to find Argentino, 23, of Brooklyn, gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose, records show.

Argentino was pronounced dead at Lehigh Valley Hospital the next day. An autopsy determined she died of traumatic brain injuries and she suffered more than two dozen cuts and bruises -- a possible sign of "mate abuse" -- on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.

The autopsy also determined her injuries were consistent with being hit with a stationary object. In an autopsy report, forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis wrote that the case should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.

Snuka originally told at least five people, including the responding police officer, he shoved Argentino earlier that day, causing her to fall and hit her head, according to police interviews obtained by The Morning Call. He later told police those five people misunderstood him, and said Argentino slipped and hit her head when they stopped along the highway to urinate.

Snuka was the only person of interest in the case but was never charged.

The original Whitehall police investigation went cold June 1, 1983, after a follow-up interview with Snuka that was ordered by Lehigh Valley authorities and attended by WWF mogul Vince McMahon.

In an unprecedented move, Martin announced in January 2014 that a grand jury will investigate Argentino's mysterious death, prompted in part by The Morning Call's story. He said it was the oldest case he's ever sent before the grand jury.

Snuka, now 72 and living in Waterford Township, N.J., was diagnosed with stomach cancer, his wife announced earlier this month.

In 1985, the Argentino family won a $500,000 wrongful death case against Snuka by default, but Snuka never paid because he claimed he was broke and couldn't afford a legal defense.

In his 2012 autobiography, Snuka maintained his innocence and said Argentino's death ruined his life.

"Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true," he wrote. "This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her."

However, less than four months before Argentino's death, Snuka was charged with assaulting her in a New York motel and then fighting with police when they responded to the call. He pleaded guilty to harassment in the case with most of the serious charges being dropped.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by DXvsNWO1994 » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:35 pm

So I've seen people on Twitter make allusions to Vince McMahon, in regards to this news. Does he have anything to do with this? I may be naive, but I'm not getting the connection (if there is any)...
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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by Sardonic Artery » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:51 pm

At this rate, the entire WWE site will be a giant redacted blur of error 404 not found.
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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:53 pm

From what I've gathered, he may have pulled some maneuvers to protect Snuka. The F4W newsletter will likely be the top coverage on this over the weekend, even better than tomorrow's Observer.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by DXvsNWO1994 » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:57 pm

supersonic wrote:From what I've gathered, he may have pulled some maneuvers to protect Snuka. The F4W newsletter will likely be the top coverage on this over the weekend, even better than tomorrow's Observer.
Heard this from someone on Twitter as well. It's a very interesting twist to the story. What's the likelihood that anything happens to Vince, or is it too early to speculate?
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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:27 pm

Too early to speculate on something of that nature.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by EmptyCity » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:08 pm

Story goes Snuka was protected by Vince during the police questioning. He sat in the room and spoke for snuka. Led the officers to believe snuka was really a small minded pacific islander. "He speaks english but can not speak it good like we do." Basically the rumors were that Vince acted as snuka's attorney and was able to help him avoid a murder charge. Again just rumors.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:20 pm

Observer:
Spoiler: show
After 32 years, in a shocking move, the Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) Grand Jury indicted pro wrestling legend Jimmy Snuka on charges of third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of mistress Nancy Argentino.

The indictment is a victory of sorts in a three-decade long quest by the Argentino family to get what they considered justice after her death.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Louise Argentino-Upham, Nancy’s sister who had been one of the key people keeping the story alive. “She was only 23 and she really didn’t deserve what happened to her. They did the right thing by gathering all the evidence now and arresting him. Somehow it all got muddled back then.”

Argentino passed away in the early morning of May 11, 1983, of injuries suffered when her head hit a stationary object.

Snuka, 72, turned himself in to authorities on 9/1 after receiving word of his indictment and was arraigned in Lehigh County, and sent to county jail, where he was being held on $100,000 bond. Snuka posted ten percent of that figure as bond and was released later that day.

Snuka was in a wheelchair and hooked up to a feeding tube when he surrendered to authorities, accompanied to five relatives, including both his current wife, Carole, who he married in 2004, and his prior wife, Sharon Georgi, who testified before the Grand Jury that she was beaten by him in 1983, just a few months after the death of Argentino. It was Georgi who posted bond for Snuka.

“He is not in good shape physically or mentally,” said William Moore, his attorney, to the Allentown Morning Call. “I’m not sure he realized what was going on. I’m not sure what his cognitive abilities are.”

Few expected charges to be filed against Snuka in the investigation, given the time frame and that the original investigation was largely dropped shortly after Argentino’s death with no charges filed.

Over the years, there had been media stories, including by Jeff Savage in 1992 and Irv Muchnick in 1999. Muchnick, the nephew of former NWA President Sam Muchnick, who was the most powerful man in the pro wrestling industry from the 50s throughout he mid-70s, later wrote a 2007 book “Wrestling Babylon” with a chapter on the Snuka story. On the 30th anniversary of the incident in 2013, with help from the Argentino family, he wrote the ebook “Justice Denied: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy Superfly Snuka’s Motel Room.”

At the same time, in a story based on the 30th anniversary of her death, the Allentown Morning Call, wrote an in-depth front page feature opening up the case, including an autopsy report from forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis who wrote in his report in 1983 that the injuries suffered by Argentino were consistent with being hit with a stationary object, and that the case should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.

This resulted in District Attorney James B. Martin of Lehigh County saying he would take a fresh look at the case. A Grand Jury investigation was opened in early 2014. Then, after one year, it was extended another six months.

Martin said that they are not pursuing first degree murder charges as he didn’t think they could meet the burden of proof necessary for a conviction. That would entail proving Snuka’s actions were willful and premeditated. Third degree would be a murder without prior intent.

What is weird about the involuntary manslaughter charge is that in Pennsylvania, there is a statute of limitations on that charge that would have been up decades ago.

Third degree murder carries up to 40 years in prison. Pennsylvania law defines third degree murder as a killing caused by neither an intentional murder (which would be first degree) nor doing the commission of another felony (which would be second degree).

Martin also thanked the Argentino family for their patience regarding the case, saying it was the family contacting him in 2013 which led to him ordering the new investigation.

Snuka was subpoenaed by the Grand Jury but never took the stand, refusing to testify in the case.

Detective Gerald Procanyn, who was involved in the original investigation that never charged Snuka with any crime in 1983, was involved in the investigation. The Grand Jury completed its investigation and recommended a charge of criminal homicide against Snuka on 7/17 .

Martin held a press conference, and noted bail was granted to Snuka because he was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer and didn’t want taxpayers to be burdened with his medical bills if he was in jail before the trial.

Snuka underwent surgery last month to remove his lymph nodes and part of his stomach due to cancer. The doctors believed that they had removed all the cancer and that he would make a full recovery.

Martin said that the Grand Jury came to the decision to charge Snuka due to additional witnesses coming forward and Snuka’s own inconsistent statements about the incident to various people he spoke with after the incident happened, as well as in later years in the media and in his autobiography.

Martin noted this was the oldest case ever to result in charges filed ever in Lehigh County.

Moore, who said he would not represent Snuka at the trial, may have given a hint for his defense, saying that whoever is the lawyer would focus on whether Snuka is mentally competent to stand trial. He said in his recovery from surgery, it has left him in need of daily care, and that he is also suffering from partial dementia from decades of head injuries.

“He’s suffered a number of concussions with all the antics he’s done. I don’t see it ever getting better.”

“His faculties are so compromised you wouldn’t know what he’s saying. He doesn’t understand a simple conversation. You put him up against a sharp prosecutor, asking, `remember 30 years ago when you said this,’ (and) he has no recollection.”

Muchnick said that in his own 1992 reporting on the case that Procanyn told him that Snuka had told one consistent story, that Argentino slipped and hit her head in a fall after they stopped their car and she got out to urinate on the side of the road.

However, documents later came out that showed Snuka had told several parties, including the police themselves, as many as five different descriptions of how Argentino fell, shortly after her death. Those who testified before the Grand Jury that had spoken with Snuka on the night of the accident gave very different accounts.

Among the stories involved Snuka pushing her either during horseplay or a lovers’ quarrel. There were marks of abuse on Argentino besides the head injury, including more than two dozen cuts and bruises, on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.

At least five different people were told by Snuka, including the responding police officer, that he shoved Argentino earlier that day, causing her to fall and hit her head. But he later claimed those people misunderstood him, and told the story that he has since told consistently, including in his autobiography, that was the same story as Procanyan claimed.

There was no bramble or dirt on Argentino’s body or clothing that would be consistent with a fall on the side of the road. The police never brought Snuka to the scene of where he claimed the fall took place on the side of the road to gather evidence to back up that version of the story.

The grand jury heard or read testimony from 20 witnesses and observed 37 exhibits regarding Argentino’s death, including the paramedic, emergency room and autopsy reports from the day of her death, as well as written statements made at the time from the medical and hospital personnel who attended to Argentino. They also heard testimony of paramedic emergency room professionals who recalled what Snuka said to them that evening.

The Grand Jury concluded that the evidence indicated that Snuka repeatedly assaulted Argentino on May 10, 1983, and then allowed her to lie in bed at the George Washington Motor Lodge without obtaining the necessary medical attention that could have possibly saved her. They believe the combination of his assault and failure to get medical attention results in her death via homicide.

The key testimony was from Mihalakis, who conducted the autopsy. Mihalakis said that Argentino died from craniocerebral injuries, the pattern consistent of a moving head striking a stationary object, but the injuries are not consistent with a singular fall because of all the scalp, facial and bodily bruises and abrasions. He wrote the night of her death that “The multiplicity and magnitude of the injuries may even be suggestive of `mate’ abuse.”

He also wrote, “I personally checked the clothing that Ms. Argentino was wearing at the time of her injury, that is the slip and fall on the berm of the road, and find no evidence of dirt or tears on the fabric. They were subsequently submitted for evaluation. The hair and scalp were also examined at the time of the autopsy and no gravel or any other similar dirt particles were noted.”

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim also affirmed that after reviewing police interviews of many officers and medical personnel, as well as the statements given by Snuka, and testimony the Grand Jury heard, that he believed Argentino’s death was a homicide.

Snuka was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world in 1983 at the time the incident took place. With Bruno Sammartino having retired in 1981 and Hulk Hogan not arriving until 1984, it was Snuka who had surpassed champion Bob Backlund as the WWF’s biggest and most popular star of that period. Snuka had been a major star in a number of circuits, most notably in Oregon, Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas for years. He was mostly a high flying babyface, before being brought in as a heel managed by Lou Albano to face Backlund in a series of title matches. Because the WWF had less in the way of high flying than other promotions, Snuka, a powerful heavy steroid using bodybuilder who had won contests in that sport in the past both before and during his wrestling career, with his majestic splashes off the top rope, got over stronger than any title challenger of the era. Before long, he was starting to get cheered. Once, in Philadelphia, in a rarity at that time, the crowd booed the hell out of Backlund and manager Arnold Skaaland, and cheered the normally hated Albano, during a title defense against Snuka.

It was an easy and obvious decision to turn Snuka. A storyline was created where Buddy Rogers, who hosted the Rogers Corner talk show segment on WWF syndicated shows, investigated and found out that Albano had been robbing him blind and Snuka wasn’t making anywhere near the money he should have been. The scenario played out weekly until Snuka started to understand and the crowd wanted him to turn well before he did.

Albano finally turned on Snuka and had Ray Stevens piledrive him on the floor. Snuka was then managed by Rogers, although that was short-lived and Rogers suffered a dressing room fall, sued the promotion, and was never seen again. Snuka became a huge favorite with high-profile programs with the likes of Stevens and Don Muraco.

His most notable moment was at the October 17, 1983, Madison Square Garden show, in a cage match, where Muraco retained the Intercontinental title. After them match, Snuka came off the top of the cage with a Superfly splash. While Snuka had done the move in cage matches before in a number of promotions, because it was in Madison Square Garden and was promoted heavily after the fact in WWE’s history, it became one of the most remembered moments in pro wrestling history. When Roddy Piper was brought in a few months later, it was Snuka who he shot his most famous angle with and had a program that was among the best drawing non-championship programs in company history.

Argentino, who traveled the WWF circuit with Snuka, was injured either as the two were traveling to Allentown for a television taping, or in the hotel, after they had checked in for a show on May 10, 1983, at the Allentown Agricultural Hall.

Snuka said that the two of them overslept that day, and he arrived late, after 1 p.m., for a full day of interviews. He came back to check on her after interviews but before the live show, and said she was in bed and not feeling well.

“I left the Fairgrounds at 6 o’clock (after doing interviews),” he said to Procanyan at the motel in a taped interview the morning after Argentino’s death. “I came back here and looked at her, and she just looked like she was sleeping, breathing and everything. So I got a towel, soaked it in the ice and put it over her head. She was not up. She was laying down in bed. She did not complain. She just had a big lump on her head. It was swelled. There was no blood. She had marks on her back from me trying to help her when she fell. So right fro there, I thought maybe she was tired, just laying there and breathing. So I had to go back to work on TV now. This was about ten minutes to eight when I left to go because I was on the second tape (hour of taping). She was okay when I left her. She was laying down and I kept putting the towel ono her head and she just kept mumbling around. She didn’t talk tome. She mumbled so I kept wetting the towel and putting it on her head.”

When asked why he didn’t call a doctor, he said, “Well, she wasn’t even answering me so I just looked at her and said, well, she’s resting there. So I said I have to go to work and I’ll be right back.”

After the taping, when he returned to his motel room, he found Argentino gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose. She was pronounced dead at Lehigh Valley Hospital a few hours later, with the cause of death being traumatic brain injuries.

Snuka, whose legal name was James Reiher at the time, but he had since changed his name to Jimmy Snuka, was never charged. The investigation of the Argentino death went cold on June 1, 1983, after an interview with Whitehall police with both Snuka and the current Vince McMahon. Snuka, in his autobiography, said that McMahon came with a briefcase to the interview.

The world was very different at that time. Even though Snuka was very popular, the mainstream media rarely touched pro wrestling, feeling any dealing with it was beneath their dignity. The death of Argentino got no national news coverage, a little bit of local coverage in the Allentown area, and maybe one small newspaper story at the time in the New York market. In most other major WWF markets, the story wasn’t even covered.

In those days, celebrities had a much easier time getting off on things. Cash talked when it came to both avoiding negative publicity and legal problems.

Most fans were not even aware of it. At the May 23, 1983, show in Madison Square Garden, Snuka was cheered wildly in his match against Afa the Wild Samoan. But there was a vehement contingent of fans, mostly Puerto Ricans, and especially women, who did scream at him for being a killer. But by the next show in June, nothing of the sort happened.

There was far more coverage for an incident in Syracuse, NY, on January 18, 1983, a little less than four months earlier, where police were called to the motel the two were staying at. A nude Snuka started fighting police before being subdued.

Also testifying in the case was Ruth Rogers, the wife of the deceased Buddy Rogers. They also saw photographs that depicted Snuka assaulting then-wife Sharon Snuka (now Sharon Georgi) in October 1983 that led to her being hospitalized. Sharon Georgi also testified to being assaulted by Jimmy Snuka and to what Jimmy told her about Argentino’s death.

Shirley Reeve, a paramedic, who had notes from that evening, said she and her crew arrived at Room 427 of the first floor of the George Washington Motor Lodge in Whitehall Township, shortly before midnight after Snuka had come back to the room after the tapings. When they arrived, the room door was open and police officer Alfred Rhoads, Snuka and two other wrestlers (Don Muraco and Harry “Mr. Fuji” Fujiwara) were there with Argentino, who was lying on her back on the bed, unconscious, with no clothes and a sheet over her. Her breathing was weak, and at times she stopped breathing. Reeve believed she had suffered a head injury and attended to her. She was put on a backboard and rushed to the hospital.

Dr. Joseph Fassl, the emergency room physician, testified they did everything they could to revive Argentino, but she never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m.

Reeve and Fassl both said they had questioned Snuka about her extensive injuries. Both said that Snuka told them he struck her and she fell, hitting her head on concrete. Two of the attending nurses testified they were told by Snuka that he and Argentino had an argument and he admitted that he hit her and she fell back, hitting her head. Precise accounts of those conversations were recorded by police in interviews at the time.

Given that evidence, it is now virtually amazing that no charges were ever pressed at the time and the case was quickly dropped.

Mihalakis testified about her skull fracture and injuries to the head, as well as 39 different contusions and abrasions on her arms, forearms, back, buttocks, legs and feet. He suggested the injuries were from “mate” abuse and that the abuse took place 12 to 24 hours before her death. She said the delay in contacting emergency medical professionals complicated any attempts to provide any extraordinary procedures that may have saved her life.

Snuka told a chaplain at the hospital after Argentino’s death that it happened on the highway traveling to the motel, but told the story the injuries came when he shoved her and she fell backwards, hitting her head on concrete. When speaking to Procanyn, he told him that she was injured due to a fall on the highway, but did not say he struck or shoved her, and instead stated that she slipped while getting out to urinate.

Rhoads, who arrived at the room first, said Snuka told him that he and Argentino were fooling around when he pushed her and she fell, striking her head. Reeve said Snuka told her that he and Argentino must have wrestled a little too much the previous night, and she hit her head on the concrete. Fassl said Snuka told him that they were fooling around, he pushed her and she fell, striking the back of her head. Snuka told him she lost consciousness and he picked her up by the arms and she came to. Snuka said they went into the room and went to sleep and the next day they were fooling around again and gave her a light slap on the face. Then they went back to sleep and he got up around Noon after oversleeping, and left to go to work.

Susan St. Clair, a nurse working in the emergency room, said she tried to talk to Snuka but he just stood in one spot and stared at Argentino and he said that they got into town late the night before, both were tried, they got into an argument, he pushed her and she fell back and hit her head.

Carol McBride, who also worked in the emergency room, said Snuka smelled of alcohol, and she asked him what happened, and he said that they came to town the previous night, had an argument, were pushing each other and he pushed her and she fell, hitting her head.

Barbara Smith Derickson, the chaplain, said Snuka told her they stopped on the road to go to the bathroom, and they started clowning around, he shoved her and she fell backwards on her back and hit her head on the concrete and was out for a minute or two, and he slapped her face a few times to bring her out of it. When they arrived at the motel, Argentino said she had a headache and wanted to go to bed. Snuka went to the diner to get some food and brought it back. He said she passed out in the room and hit her head on the side of the chair or the bed. He said she was breathing okay when he left to go to work and when he came back to the room yellow stuff was coming out of her nose and mouth and he called for help.

They also noted Snuka gave different accounts in his autobiography and in two radio interviews in 2013 talking about Argentino’s death to promote the autobiography.

In the autobiography, he said that he was driving in his Lincoln Continental with her from a show in Connecticut to the tapings in Allentown, and that they were both drinking beer and she asked to stop the car so she could pee on the side of the road.

“When she came back, she told me she slipped on the way and hit her head. I didn’t see it happen, but I remember she told me she was jumping over a little river or stream that was there and she slipped. She seemed okay, and when I asked her if she was feeling alright, she said, `Yes.’ I didn’t see any blood anywhere, so neither of us were concerned and we kept driving to Allentown.”

He said after they arrived at the motel, she went to lie down and rest and he went out to hang around with several of the wrestlers and when he got back in the room that night, she was sleeping and he went to bed.

Peter Bronstad, a former Captain in the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department testified about the Syracuse incident at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge.

He testified that they had received a call at 1:40 a.m. by a clerk working the front desk that a guy was dragging a naked female down the hallway. Two officers arrived and he said they saw Snuka dragging a naked Argentino, who was covered by a blanket, down the hallway by the hair. She was screaming that she wanted to get away. He said the officers reported Snuka dragged her by the hair into their room, and she was yelling and crying for Snuka to let her go while he yelled at the deputies to go away. The deputies, seeing the size of Snuka, called for backup.

Bronstad was part of the backup, with several more deputies and a canine unit. They attempted to get Snuka to open the door. When he didn’t Bronstad said he ordered the deputies to take down the door and arrest Snuka since Argentino was still crying for help. After a struggle with a number of officers and police dogs, they arrested Snuka and handcuffed him while Argentino was in the corner of the room, crying in pain.

It took eight deputies and two dogs to get Snuka under control. He was taken in and booked on charges of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and counts of assault related to both Argentino and the deputies. Argentino was hospitalized at that point with injuries to her head, back and scalp from being dragged by the hair. Snuka plea bargained down to reduced charges and paid a fine that was donated to charity, and apologized.

At the time, the view among wrestling fans who did know about the Syracuse incident is that it got Snuka over even stronger, because the news reports talked about how Snuka was able to fight off eight officers and two police dogs before finally being subdued. At the time fans wanted their wrestlers to be real-life badasses, and if anything, this made Snuka even more popular, as it legitimized his “Fijian wildman” persona. In stories about the incident in the Syracuse market, fans reacted to Snuka like his wrestling character, saying that he used to be a bad guy but, with his babyface turn, he had changed.

Today, either of those incidents would have likely gotten him fired and given the company significant negative publicity. Instead, he remained one of the top babyface’s in the company and was not even suspended for either incident. In that era, wrestlers were often in trouble and, like with other sports and entertainment stars, the incidents were often covered up and part of the protocol was to clean up the mess of the stars. That still existed even into the early 2000s, but it is far harder to cover things up today.

Debbie Rogers, the widow of Buddy Rogers, talked about an incident where she claimed Snuka beat then-wife Sharon in October, 1983. At the time the Rogers’ and Snuka’s were neighbors in Haddonfield, NJ. Rogers kept notes about the incident and photos of the injuries to Sharon, who had to be hospitalized.

Sharon Georgi, then Sharon Snuka, corroborated Rogers’ story. She said there were a series of beatings in the fall of 1983 that resulted in her being hospitalized and both Rogers and Georgi talked about his use of alcohol and drugs in 1983.

Argentino worked as a dental assistant in Brooklyn and became a fan of Snuka. Snuka was married at the time to Sharon, and had four children who were living in North Carolina, before they later moved to New Jersey. Son James Jr. was 11 at the time, who later wrestled as Jimmy Snuka Jr., Sim Snuka, Deuce and Deuce Shade during a career from 2000 to 2009. Daughter Sarona, who now works in WWE as Tamina Snuka, was five at the time.

The Argentino family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Snuka, and won a default judgment of $500,000 in 1985. Snuka never paid, claiming he was broke. Snuka remained a top star in WWF through 1985, where issues with drugs and a problem on an overseas tour that cost the company sizeable money to get him out of, largely ended his tenure with the company.

He came back from 1989 to 1991 but with far less of a push in a lower card role, and worked occasional WWF matches over the next few years, and worked independents regularly into his late 60s. He worked a few WWE matches in 1992 and 1993. After that point, he was brought back four times as a legend on PPV shows, at the 1996 Survivor Series, a 2005 PPV show, a 2007 PPV show where he and Sgt. Slaughter faced Snuka’s son Deuce & Domino (Cliff Compton), a cameo in the 2008 Royal Rumble, and his final in-ring appearance for the company at the 2009 WrestleMania.

On that show, Snuka was one of the three legends (along with Ricky Steamboat and Roddy Piper) from the first WrestleMania who would face Chris Jericho, in succession, in a match that led to Jericho being hit with a knockout punch by Mickey Rourke.

He continued wrestling on indies through 2011, but he needed surgery which led to him being out for a long time, and came back for a few matches in 2013, at the age of 70, but has worked little if at all in the ring since that summer.

Some media outlets claimed a sensationalized story that his own autobiography caused his indictment. It is true that what Snuka said in his 2012 autobiography may have helped add a layer to stories written, but it was really the 30th anniversary of the case that led to the local newspaper doing the story that uncovered details of the autopsy report and some of the interviews, which suggested that the handling of the original investigation was negligent.

Whether there is enough evidence for a conviction is a very different situation.

“Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true,” Snuka wrote in his autobiography. “This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her.”

The WWE released a short statement after the indictment, but did not answer questions regarding Snuka and his current position in the WWE Hall of Fame.

“WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately, this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”

***************************************************************

Snuka Murder Indictment Asks Some of the Right Questions -- Also Begs a Few Big Ones


by Irvin Muchnick



The indictment of Jimmy Snuka in the Nancy Argentino death finally -- as in after 32 years, finally-- brings the criminal justice system of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, into some alignment with reality.

Whether Snuka is guilty of third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter is for a trial to determine. But no one in charge of law enforcement should ever have been making the preposterous argument that there wasn’t a triable case here. Now, to the relief of everyone not stubbornly planted in an alternate universe, no one is.

Though the case against Snuka was circumstantial, the defendant incriminated himself by heaping lies about this mysterious incident atop a disturbing and substantial record of violence against women. Nancy’s injuries were anything but incidental and accidental. And there was no semblance of a third-party assailant or a claim of one -- only Jimmy and her in Room 427 of the Whitehall’s George Washington Motor Lodge prior to May 1983 syndicated TV tapings in Allentown for the then-WWF.

One of the byproducts of three-plus decades of justice denied is that what we wind up with a grotesque spectacle at the back end: in this instance, deciding the fate of a 72-year man with cancer who banks on sympathy wherever he can find it, as well as on the selective memories of those easily mesmerized by celebrity, wealth, and power. I could find myself persuaded by either side of the argument as to whether a prison term for such a broken figure, with such a broken legacy, meaningfully meets the definition of Justice with a capital J.

As a journalist, I am content to declare victory with the process that was the county’s Seventh Investigating Grand Jury. District Attorney James Martin tackled the Snuka-Argentino scenario -- pro wrestling’s answer to Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick Bridge -- way too late, but at least he got it right.

Where I would like to turn the public’s attention next is to remaining questions that the grand jury artfully dodged: What is the accountability of local public officials, including some of the very ones participating in Tuesday’s press conference to explain the presentment of the charges?

DA Martin’s predecessor in 1983, William Platt, is now a senior judge. Snuka’s autobiography goes to the trouble of highlighting that Vince McMahon carried a briefcase into a climactic meeting with Platt and others. They decided not to prosecute. Yet they never officially closed the case, either -- which meant that the records of their “open police investigation”could remain sealed from the prying eyes of, first, me in 1992 and, then, the Allentown Morning Call’s Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman on the 30th anniversary in 2013.

An even more malodorous specimen of the smell test is Gerald Procanyn, who is still working as an investigator in the DA’s office.

In 1983 he was a Whitehall police detective. In 1992, as chief of detectives, he told me one untruth after another in Snuka’s favor. The core lie -- demolished by my reporting and later the Morning Call’s, and ultimately exposed in devastating detail in the indictment attachments -- was that Snuka was consistent in maintaining that Nancy had slipped, fallen, and hit her head during an impromptu roadside urination. Procanyn’s serial lies, which in turn covered those of his eternal “person of interest,” were as gratuitous as they were outrageous.

But the 2015 prosecution proceeds by pretending that only the defendant’s happened.

From wrestling fans, the most frequently asked questions of me are “Did McMahon actively cover this up? and “Will evidence along these lines be introduced? The continued presence of Procanyn as a face for the prosecution suggests that the answer to the latter is “No.”

On June 16, 2008, in the course of a long email complaining about my reporting on the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide, WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt wrote, “[Y]our insinuation that Mr. McMahon in some unspecified way kept the authorities from charging Jimmy Snuka for murder in 1983 is an odious lie.”

What I wrote was that McMahon sped back to Allentown and, in the observation of an investigator at the time (whom I named, by the way), served as Snuka’s “mouthpiece” during the wrestler’s interrogation -- while Snuka, essentially, worked his naive jungle-boy gimmick.

I also quoted Richard Cushing, the Argentino family’s first attorney, saying this: “The D.A. seemed like a nice enough person who wanted to do nothing. There was fear, I think, on two counts: fear of the amount of money the World Wrestling Federation had, and fear of the size of these people.”



Irvin Muchnick’s 1992 story on Snuka and Argentina -- commissioned but never published by New York’s Village Voice -- was first published online years later, and then as a chapter in the 2007 book Wrestling Babylon. The 2013 ebook Justice Denied: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly Snuka’s Motel Room, annotates the original article and benefits a women’s shelter in Nancy’s memory. You can order the ebook for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle ( http://amzn.com/B00CPTP6VM ) or a PDF copy by email (send $2.99 via PayPal to nancyargentino@gmail.com).

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:05 pm

Observer:
Spoiler: show
With the indictment against Jimmy Snuka for third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter (a charge that doesn’t appear to be able to stick because the statute of limitations on it has since long run out) on 9/1, the big question is why this didn’t happen in 1983, when whatever investigation was done regarding the death of 23-year-old Nancy Argentino, Snuka’s mistress, ended two weeks after her death from head injuries.

District Attorney William Platt, now a Pennsylvania Superior Court judge, was the one who made the decision in 1983. Because of his position, he declined any comment on the subject in an article in the Allentown Morning-Call, citing, as a matter of the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, that he’s prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics to discuss cases publicly.

There has been the obvious speculation and insinuations regarding the role of Vince McMahon, who came into Allentown, spoke with police on June 1, 1983, roughly three weeks after Argentino’s death, and spoke with District Attorney Platt, Assistant District Attorney Robert Steinberg and other police investigators. At that point, the investigation went cold for more than 30 years.

McMahon had purchased Capital Sports, the parent company of the World Wrestling Federation, and renamed it Titan Sports. McMahon paid his father, who was to die of cancer a year later, and his minority partners such as Arnold Skaaland, Phil Zacko, Bob Marella (Gorilla Monsoon) $1 million, one year earlier. McMahon paid them in four $250,000 payments to the owners using profits from the company. At the time, the sale was largely a secret in wrestling. Most assumed his father, Vincent James McMahon, usually called Vince Sr., was still the man in command.

The company had started running shows in California by this time, but by that time, both California regional promotions had closed up shop. Even the original rumblings of McMahon expanding nationally and competing with the existing and still strong network of promoters was months away. And even when it became clear by certain small moves that took place in the fall of 1983, including Vince McMahon Sr., Jr. and Jim Barnett (Director of Operations at the time) quitting the NWA at the convention, it wasn’t truly understood by his competitors what was happening until after Christmas of that year.

Snuka was the company’s biggest star. He continued to work a full schedule, both after news stories in January 1983, of the Syracuse police needing nine police officers and two dogs to subdue him in a fight where he allegedly was beating Argentino, as well as after her death. Some have felt in hindsight that while they used him as their top star, that no move was made to give him either the WWF title (which was kept on a less popular and losing steam Bob Backlund, until being moved to Hulk Hogan through the Iron Sheik when Hogan was signed in December 1983) or the IC title (which given the circumstances, under normal circumstances one would have expected Snuka would have had a run with) due to those circumstances. It is possible with the latter, but stories that Snuka, not Hogan would have been the face of the company except for those issues and his well-known drug issues, or that this played a part in him not wrestling in the main event at the first WrestleMania, don’t make sense.

Snuka was already 40 by the time McMahon made his move, and as hot as he was, it was very clear Hogan had more potential as a babyface given his drawing power in the AWA and being ten years younger, plus being much bigger. At WrestleMania, the key to that show was Mr. T, not any of the wrestlers, and Mr. T was there to give Hogan, the top star, the celebrity rub. Making it a six-man match instead of a tag match with Hogan & T as a dream team, would have diluted the match and the Hogan rub. Snuka’s star had also fallen by early 1985. Due to drug issues, he was no longer the same caliber of performer he was two years earlier, and no shows and other problems led to them toning down his push.

While a lot of media sensationalized the story with the idea that Snuka was done in by comments he made in his 2012 autobiography, that is a very simplistic way of looking at it. The autobiography did play a part in two ways. The first is that it infuriated Argentino’s two sisters, Lorraine and Louise, as well as reporter Irv Muchnick, who had first investigated the story in 1992, which led to them putting a book together. The autobiography was also used as evidence material by the Lehigh County Grand Jury, noting the inconsistency between what Snuka reportedly wrote in his book and the several different versions of the story Snuka told that night and the next day when talking with police, a chaplain and medical personnel.

But the real key was a front page article in the local newspaper by Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman, with the report from the time from forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis, whose autopsy report stated that he believed the death due to head injuries should be investigated as a homicide. Because police never closed the investigation, they were able to keep a lot of the internal documentation away from both the public and the Argentino family. But after that story broke, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced they would re-examine that case in front of a Grand Jury.

Mihalakis in the 2013 story said that, “The clear-cut forensics weren’t there, but the suspicion was there. I did not have a clear-cut case. It was a very worrisome case. Obviously there was enough there to arouse my suspicion, but not enough to take it to trial

Just because she was beaten, doesn’t mean she was beaten to death.”

Ironically, that statement may be the key today, because his autopsy was completed in 1983. In fact, the only real new evidence the Grand Jury heard that wasn’t around in 1983 was Snuka’s book, a Snuka interview talking about the incident with Sam Roberts, and the testimony related to Snuka’s incident in Syracuse and his allegedly beating then-wife Sharon months later, all of which leads to increased suspicion as to what happened but none would appear to be enough new evidence to convict him on a third degree murder charge.

Vincent Geiger, a Whitehall detective who worked on the Snuka case in 1983, also believed he did it. He has since passed away. His son, Scott, contacted Irv Muchnick this past weekend.

“I recall my father talking about the case and I remember how he was extremely disappointed because he believed Snuka was guilty, but the evidence and testimony just would not warrant a charge.”

Sharon, who posted the $10,000 bond to get Snuka out of jail, had testified against him in front of the Grand Jury that he had hospitalized her in October 1983. Ruth Rogers, who was her next door neighbor at the time, and the wife of Buddy Rogers, who until a few months earlier had been Snuka’s manager (and did look out for him), also testified and had extensive notes about the alleged beating.

Rogers and Snuka were first linked in the Carolinas. Rogers was the key in Snuka turning heel in the Carolinas after being a babyface for almost his entire career. He was a top heel in the territory, often working against top face Ric Flair, before Snuka moved to WWF. Rogers was also part of the storyline to turn Snuka babyface in WWF and served as his manager there, before leaving the company after suing them after suffering a broken hip backstage.

When Snuka moved his family from the Carolinas to New Jersey in 1983, after Argentino died, he and Rogers were close and thus became neighbors and their wives became best friends.

Shortly before his sudden death from a heart attack in 1992, Rogers told Irv Muchnick: “Jimmy used to beat the shit out of that woman. She would show up at our house, bruised and battered. But she couldn’t leave him. He had her hooked on the same junk he was using.” Rogers emphasized that Snuka was a sweet guy, but the problem was the drugs, and when on, he was uncontrollable.

“The Grand Jury did not look at anything that occurred in 1983 other than the evidence in Nancy Argentino’s death,” said Martin. “They did not look at or consider why there was a delay and why it took 32 years to file charges. That was not their function.”

The police were looking to investigate whether Snuka was responsible for Argentino’s death, not why the case was buried for three decades, which is still in many ways the big unanswered question given the evidence presented to the Grand Jury based on statements made that was available in 1983. But it is not a question they were searching for the answer to, so the idea some people have that they were looking for something on Vince McMahon, or that this may end up being tied to McMahon, looks highly unlikely to the point they aren’t even looking there.

Another strange part of the case is that Detective Gerald Procanyan, the original investigator of the case, was a key in the indictment being brought. Muchnick had long been vehemently anti-Procanyan being part of the investigation because of his belief that in 1992, when he interviewed Procanyan, that Procanyan flat out lied to him by claiming Snuka had consistently only told one story, the one based around Argentino hitting her head while slipping when peeing on the side of the road. Muchnick himself had interviewed several people in Allentown who told him Snuka told them very different stories, and when the evidence was released last week, that was confirmed.

However, Procanyan later in 1992, told Jeff Savage, a reporter from San Diego who wrote a story on the Snuka/Argentino case, a very different story that was reasonably close to the truth. In 2013, Procanyan actually physically demonstrated to the Allentown reporters how he believed Snuka had thrown her down when she hit her head.

In Savage’s 1992 story, he wrote that Procanyan found it puzzling that Argentino could have functioned normally throughout the day until her death.

“Okay, she supposedly conks herself on the head, but then she’s able to drive the rest of the way here, she’s able to register them at the motel, she’s able to walk to a diner and order food and bring it back to the room. Then, all of a sudden, she dies.”

The same article quoted Snyder, the deputy coroner at the time, saying, “The fracture is on the back of the head. Okay, fine. But what about the marks on her face? What about the multiple bruises on various parts of her body? We have a highly suspicious death, and I don’t believe it to be accidental. This case has to be investigated as a homicide.”

After the death, Nancy Argentino’s mother, said the WWE offered her $25,000 to stop talking about the case. The family was told by detectives from Allentown shortly after her death that Nancy, who had dated Hulk Hogan a few years earlier, during his heel run before Snuka came to the WWF, had some kind of a condition that made her skull more delicate and susceptible to fractures, even though the autopsy report said nothing remotely close to that.

In 1983, the Argentino family hired Richard Cushing to try and get justice, but he was told by Platt in 1983 that they didn’t have enough evidence for prosecution of Snuka.

Cushing spent three weeks in Allentown investigating the case after the local authorities had decided not to prosecute Snuka. He believed he had uncovered enough evidence for a murder case, and then visited Platt, armed with his findings.

“I was stonewalled at every turn,” Cushing told the local paper. “It became clear pretty soon that he (Platt) had no intention of presenting the evidence that I amassed.”

“All the pieces were there. There was enough to take it before a Grand Jury in 1983. I could not understand why the district attorney could not see it.”

Cushing said he spoke to McMahon, who said something which exemplifies just how different wrestling, wrestling fans and the world was in 1983 compared to today.

“Look, I’m in the garbage business,” he said. “If you think I’m going to be hurt by the revelation that one of my wrestlers is really a violent individual, you’re mistaken.”

Cushing later pulled out of the case, turning down representing the Argentinos in a wrongful death case against Snuka. The family got another attorney, and was awarded the $500,000 default judgment in 1985. The family never saw a dime of it, with Snuka claiming he was broke and owed money to the IRS.

After the verdict was rendered, Snuka filed an affidavit on October 15, 1985, saying he was unemployed and hadn’t worked since July, that he owed $75,000 to the IRS and owned nothing other then clothing and jewelry (from that point in time it appeared he put all of his holdings into his wives name). He admitted his wife owned some real estate but he suggested it was worth less than what they owed the IRS.

In 1985, Snuka was working for WWE when the company still had ties to New Japan, and he worked a New Japan tour in May and returned to work for WWE in June. After being fired after an overseas incident where the company had to pay to get him out of trouble, he moved from Haddonfield, NJ, back to Honolulu and had gone back to New Japan in late July, and was booked on the tag team tournament tour in November and December, where he teamed with Bruiser Brody.

That was an infamous situation as the tournament finals were set to be Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi against Brody & Snuka. However, Brody and Sakaguchi had gotten into a legitimate fight the night before the finals while working a singles match. While on the train headed to the last night, Brody, perhaps expecting revenge since he got the better of the fight against a one-time bronze medalist in the world judo championships, got off the train with Snuka and the two flew home, no-showing the finals (New Japan got around that problem by putting Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura, the third place finishers, in the finals, and booked the shocking finish as Fujinami pinning Inoki for the first time so they created a big news story). That meant Snuka and Brody didn’t get paid at all for the tour because the entire tour pay was to come after the final show.

New Japan placed all the heat on Brody, and actually brought Snuka back for two tours in 1986 even though he walked out before one of the company’s biggest shows of the year. He also worked some with the AWA as a headliner, often teaming with Greg Gagne, including main eventing the WrestleRock show at the HHH Metrodome that year where he and Gagne faced Brody & Nord the Barbarian in a cage match.

Cushing said he felt that the local authorities were intimidated, whether it be by the money of the wrestling company or the size of the wrestlers like Snuka.

WWF was hardly a company of the size and stature it is today, as noted by the fact that just a year earlier, McMahon was able to purchase 100 percent of the company stock for just $1 million. Granted, that seems in hindsight like a bargain price for a company that grossed multiple times that amount each year. But they had strong local ties, running television tapings every three weeks in Allentown at the Agricultural Hall.

Steinberg, in the 2013 article, said that McMahon, who was 38 at the time, did all the talking. It was said that Snuka put on the act like he was a naive jungle boy and said nothing.

“I remember Vince McMahon being what Vince McMahon has always been–very effusive. He was very protective, a showman, he was the mouthpiece, trying to direct the conversation.”

While Snuka’s attorney, William Moore (who will not be representing Snuka if there is a trial), pushed the idea that Snuka now has diminished cognitive abilities due to the effects of concussions from his days in the ring, people who have spoken to Snuka of late have said that is not the case, and that he can carry on a coherent conversation.

Martin claimed any implication of the elephant in the room, the idea that nobody would directly say but has been the fodder of speculation for more than three decades, of McMahon buying Snuka out of trouble, was dismissed by Martin, who called that nonsense.

“Vince McMahon sat with Snuka through the interviews, yes,” said Procanyan 21 years ago in Penthouse. But a cover up? That’s pure unadulterated bullshit. There was a full and complete report. C’mon, how would you cover up something like that?”:

The WWE also released a statement on the rumors, saying, “The insinuation that a group of medical examiners, detectives and prosecutors, including two who became judges, could have their integrity compromised and participate in improper activity during the course of a meeting is absurd, categorically false and insulting to all parties. We are hopeful that justice will prevail.”

As expected, the company made the decision to remove mentions and images of Snuka from its web site. Like with Hulk Hogan, nothing was removed from the WWE Network. Snuka’s profile was removed from the Hall of Fame section on the web site. Snuka was also dropped from his legends contract.

Still, in the 80s, wrestling promotions, including most not nearly as financially strong as the WWF was at the time, routinely did just that, on things both small and big. Hush money to women to keep them from going forward, and making things go away with authorities under sometimes suspicious circumstances were a part of not only wrestling in that era, but the star culture in sports and the entertainment world. It was a society where covering things up was far easier than today, and where celebrity status usually was the golden key in keeping you out of trouble for almost anything

Current wife Carole Snuka had this year filed for bankruptcy. All the family assets were in his wife’s name, possibly because of the outstanding debt, and she had claimed they were about $203,000 in debt between their mortgage, what they owed on their car, and credit card debt.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by Mr. Mojo Risin » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:34 pm

Be careful who your childhood idols are. In 1983, as a 10 year old I was mesmerized by Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, but he was a bad guy. I couldn't root for him, could I? Then he had the face turn and subsequently the amazing series of matches with the Magnificent Muraco. Although, he didn't win the title, Snuka gained more than just revenge in the culmination of their feud inside a steel cage, he captured the imagination of an entire fanbase, and more importantly inspired the next wave of professional wrestlers. He dragged Muraco's bloodied carcass back into the steel cage post match, scaled to the top and flattened Muraco with the Superfly splash. At that point, Jimmy Snuka became my hero. Little did I know, that my hero at the time was a fraud. And may soon be a convicted murderer. Be careful who your childhood idols are.

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:59 pm

Observer:
Media interest from network television shows is substantial as far as doing features on the Jimmy Snuka case is concerned. The stories may be timed with whenever Snuka’s future court appearances take place. A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for 9/21, but it’s now off as the court considers a petition from the District Attorney to bypass the hearing. The argument is that there’s enough evidence for the court to rule there is a case against Snuka from the indictment presented to go right to trail and it’s a waste of time and money calling all 20 members of the Grand Jury to a hearing to repeat what has already been said. They are also asking Judge Maria Dantos to grant the transcripts of the Grand Jury testimony in the case to be publicly released. It appears they are looking to not drag this thing out

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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:05 pm

-- Jimmy Snuka's preliminary hearing has been scheduled for two weeks from today. Irv Muchnick has a blog post about the investigators on his website.


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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:50 am

http://www.f4wonline.com/other-wrestlin ... ked-201886
WHY THE JIMMY SNUKA PROSECUTOR GAG ORDER WORKED

By Irvin Muchnick, Concussion Inc. author

Two weeks ago, a Pennsylvania judge, at the request of the district attorney, issued a gag order in the murder trial of retired wrestling superstar Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka for the 1983 death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino.

The gag order had its immediate intended effect: Nancy’s sisters were prevented from talking with CBS News about the longest-running cold case in the history of the Lehigh Valley, and 48 Hours decided to put on indefinite hold an hour-long episode in pre-production.

Of course, 48 Hours promises to jump right back in when the gag order expires. But I believe that, by then, the national coverage could be tepid and cookie-cutter: just another story of a well-connected celebrity getting away with something for too long, and the victim's family’s quest for a measure of justice.

From my perspective, the larger story comes in between now and then, but because of the gag order, is likely to get short shrift. I’m referring to hard-hitting examination of the original police and prosecution work -- either botched or downright corrupt -- that kept the Snuka case on the back burner for more than 30 years.

And make no mistake: it is the national media, and the national media alone, that would tell that story, certainly not the Allentown Morning Call.

True, it was the Morning Call’s better-late-than-never 2013 front-page package that finally got Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin moving again. But the newspaper also carefully fudged then, and continues not to make clear to its readers today, the aspects calling out an overly incestuous local criminal justice establishment.

Specifically: Martin was first assistant D.A. in '83 under William Platt, who is now a senior state judge. Several of the same individuals and institutions that let Snuka slide, at the time and for many years now, bear the current burden of delivering to a jury a case of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Almost no one is talking about this disconnect.

Peter L. Pavlovic, a retired police officer in another county township, encapsulated the problem in a letter to the Morning Call. In order to have a truly “fresh look” at the Snuka case, Pavlovic argued, “You need a new investigation team, and that should be the state police, not a county detective who investigated the case as a Whitehall police detective and did not file any charges. This case was not rocket science; this case was a case of conflicting stories by the person involved. This was a case of just bad police work.”

Meanwhile, in a ham-handed attempt to chill the First Amendment rights of one of his constituents, D.A. Martin earlier this year sued Bill Villa, an Allentown advertising man who blogs about local skulduggery at his site “Lehigh Valley Somebody.” Martin sued Villa for defamation for having the audacity to write, among other things, that the D.A. (as a reelection candidate) and the Morning Call have used the services of the same law firm. What had started Villa in his muckraking avocation was the soft-pedaled prosecution of a son of one of the law firm’s partners. The son, Robert LaBarre, was convicted of vehicular homicide in the drunk-driving accident in which Villa’s daughter Sheena was killed.

This is not the place for reviewing the LaBarre case, except to say that almost immediately after the 2006 incident, LaBarre, who had been released without bail, jetted to Belize to party. The Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas judge who allowed all this, with no consequences, was Robert Steinberg -- earlier one of the assistants who sat in with D.A. Platt at the June 1, 1983, meeting with Vince McMahon that culminated in no charges for Snuka.

The upshot of the parallel chilling of national media scrutiny in the Snuka case -- via a gag order with neither merit nor constitutional basis -- is that Snuka might very well get off the hook. Or he might be allowed, with little scrutiny, to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter (for not calling early enough for emergency medical attention) in return for dropping the felony charge of third degree murder in the traumatic brain injury death of Argentino. Remember that the original coroner’s autopsy report said Argentino had sustained a pattern of bruises throughout her body “consistent with ‘mate abuse.’”

In my estimation, today’s justice calculus goes beyond whether the 72-year-old Snuka, who is recovering from stomach cancer surgery, should do prison time for an incident from three decades ago. His conviction at trial on the felony count is no sure thing, anyway, given how stale prosecutors let the evidence against him become. There is nothing of importance in the September indictment of Snuka not fully known to them in ‘83.

Did garden-variety incompetence, or WWE-greased corruption, derail swift and sure justice? Thanks to the gag order (issued by yet another former assistant D.A., Judge Kelly Banach, who had worked under Martin), we might never have that important public conversation regarding whatever kept the Snuka-Argentino file buried and in suspense for so long.

As is well known, Snuka’s own 2012 autobiography went to the trouble of recounting how his boss McMahon carried a briefcase into his meeting with Platt, Steinberg, and three Whitehall Township police detectives. Whether or not that was true (or whether it mattered even if true), WWF’s tri-weekly syndicated television tapings at the Allentown Fairgrounds and in nearby Hamburg were ongoing shots of Chamber of Commerce steroids for all of Eastern Pennsylvania.

The only arguably new information in the September grand jury presentment was the testimony of Snuka’s ex-wife and of Buddy Rogers’ widow that Snuka had shown a pattern of domestic violence against the ex-wife. In that connection, the gag order eases the pressure on prosecutors to develop additional witnesses who might have come forward subsequent to the grand jury.

Recently a woman, whose bona fides checked out, contacted Concussion Inc. with information about her time as Snuka’s girlfriend in the 1990s. The information included both allegations that Snuka abused her and a claim that he gave her an account of how Nancy Argentino had died. The account purportedly identified the blunt object in the hotel room that Nancy’s head struck.

Unfortunately, instead of advancing on such angles, the national media are in retreat. The gag order has jeopardized the full airing of something more than your average celebrity murder case.


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Re: JIMMY SNUKA CHARGED IN NANCY ARGENTINO'S 1983 DEATH

Post by supersonic » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:59 pm

https://twitter.com/sarahcassi/status/8 ... 8587211776
#Breaking: Judge dismisses murder charge against Jimmy #SuperflySnuka. Gag order also lifted. Story soon @lehighvalley

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