Haunted by Spirits

John McCain derived his wealth from his marriage to Cindy Hensley McCain, whose father started his road to riches as a bootlegger. As a politician, the senator has remained beholden to the liquor industry and the family business

In November 1955, trustees for Baldwin filed a federal lawsuit against Eugene Hensley to recover 362 shares of Ruidoso Racing Association stock. The suit was settled for $40,000 and the stock was released to the Hensleys, the Journalreported.

Eugene Hensley told the Racing Commission that Baldwin operated a restaurant at the track and spent some of his own money for equipment. Baldwin filed suit in federal court in Albuquerque in 1955 over a concession contract he claimed to hold at the track. The suit was dismissed. A year later, Baldwin was convicted of income tax evasion.

In April 1955, James Hensley sold his interest in Ruidoso Downs, for which he was listed as secretary-treasurer, and had no apparent connection to the track thereafter.

James and Marguerite Hensley live adjacent to the 
McCains in central Phoenix.
Paolo Vescia
James and Marguerite Hensley live adjacent to the McCains in central Phoenix.
The McCains' central Phoenix house  --  Cindy's 
childhood home  --  is a fortress.
Paolo Vescia
The McCains' central Phoenix house -- Cindy's childhood home -- is a fortress.

Eugene Hensley's problems at Ruidoso Downs were just beginning. In 1963, Eugene Hensley was sued by minority partners for $415,000. The partners alleged Eugene Hensley used track money to make improvements to his Scottsdale home, used the track's airplane for personal pleasure and built and operated a guest house for his personal use. The lawsuit was settled the same year after Eugene Hensley agreed to return 1,000 shares of Ruidoso Racing Association stock that was by then worth $350,000.

The civil suit was prelude to an eight-count federal criminal indictment filed against Eugene Hensley in 1966, alleging income tax evasion. Eugene Hensley was convicted on all counts in a scandalous trial that revealed he had purchased several automobiles using track money and given them to his wife and a girlfriend.

Despite his 1966 conviction and subsequent five-year prison sentence, Eugene Hensley remained free on bond and continued to control operations at Ruidoso Downs until the New Mexico Racing Commission banned him from the track in 1968. After his criminal appeals were denied, Eugene Hensley entered a federal prison in La Tuna, Texas, in 1969.

That same year, Eugene Hensley sold his remaining interest in the track to NewCo Industries Incorporated, which immediately signed a 20-year concession contract with Emprise Corporation of Buffalo, New York.

Emprise had documented ties to organized crime, and was the concessionaire at Arizona dog tracks. One of the company's strongest Arizona supporters reportedly was the Hensleys' old business partner -- Kemper Marley.

In the early 1970s, Arizona racing officials began to clamp down on Emprise after the company was convicted and fined $10,000 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for its hidden ownership in the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The IRE series reported that as a defendant in that case, Emprise was linked to several prominent organized crime figures.

Emprise reorganized in Arizona as Ramcorp and was allowed to keep its lucrative concession contracts while its Los Angeles conviction was appealed. But all the company's proceeds from dog tracks were funneled through a trustee, former Mesa rancher and farmer Dwight Patterson.

Patterson, according to the IRE, urged then-Arizona governor Raul Castro to appoint Kemper Marley to the three-member Arizona Racing Commission, a position Marley reportedly was eager to get. Marley would replace Robert Kieckhefer, who had been an opponent of Emprise.

Castro received more than $19,000 during his 1974 gubernatorial campaign from Marley, and another $5,000 from Marley's daughter -- colossal sums at the time for an Arizona political campaign. Castro appointed Marley to the racing commission in 1976.

Arizona Republicreporter Don Bolles wrote a series of stories documenting Marley's questionable performance in appointive posts he'd previously held. Bolles' stories doomed Marley's appointment, forcing him to resign soon after being named to the Racing Commission.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles was mortally wounded by a car bomb. Before lapsing into unconsciousness, Bolles uttered the words, "Adamson, Emprise, Mafia." He died 11 days later.

John Harvey Adamson confessed to luring Bolles to a Phoenix hotel parking lot and placing a bomb beneath the reporter's car. The bomb, Adamson testified, was detonated by James Robison, a Chandler plumber. Adamson testified he was hired to kill Bolles by Max Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor and close associate of Marley's. Marley had extended a $1 million loan to Dunlap, which had not been repaid. Adamson said Dunlap hired him to kill Bolles because Marley was upset over Bolles' stories.

Adamson served a 20-year prison sentence and has since been released. Dunlap was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in 1994 to life in prison. Robison was convicted, but his case was later overturned on appeal and he was acquitted in a 1993 retrial.

In 1981, Marley filed a libel suit against IRE for a 1977 story that linked Marley to organized crime and the Bolles murder. Marley sought a "six-figure" award for compensatory damages and a "seven-figure" punitive award. A jury ruled that Marley had not been libeled by the stories. However, the jury ruled that IRE had inflicted "emotional distress" on Marley. The jury awarded Marley $15,000 in punitive damages, a fraction of the damages he was seeking.

Marley died in 1990 at age 83.

He was never charged in the Bolles case and denied any involvement.


After selling his interest in Ruidoso Racing Association, James Hensley turned his attention to a wholesale beer distributorship he reportedly founded in 1955 in Phoenix with 12 employees.

Details about the inception and remarkable growth of James Hensley's company are sketchy. Hensley and his wife, Marguerite, have kept a low profile. While the couple is listed in the Phoenix society's "Red Book," there is a dearth of news stories, photographs or even references to the family in the Phoenix media.

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