high-ranking police chief that kept himself busy with official
business and social events as well as with many other assignments.
Once he met (I don’t know how) a young black man by the name of Juan
Perez — a man everyone knew as “pretty eyes” — who was asking for a
job, and my father hired him to drive the station wagon at the house
to take clothes to the dry cleaners and to drive the family around.
The job also included going to the grocery store and doing the
Because sometimes Perez had to go into the police headquarters, my
father made him a police officer to avoid having him waiting at the
door and being asked a million questions due to the strict security in
place thanks to Castro’s rebels trying to commit criminal acts against
The man didn’t even carry a gun because he was not a regular police
officer; he was more or less a valet hired to do odd jobs.
However, when Castro’s criminals took over the country, Juan Perez was
arrested; and because he was a “police officer” assigned to my
father’s staff, along with the other ten “officers” who were
chauffeurs, escorts and assistants, he was taken to the firing squad
and killed just for being under a police chief in Batista’s regime.
My brother, who was a very young man at the time, was also arrested
for being the son of Chief Larraz, but because of his age, they knew
that he was not involved in government affairs and let him go.
The reason that I went far back in time is to show that injustices can
occur in any country, in any state, and in any city — and to show that
working for a central figure in any organization could cost the live
and/or the freedom of any subordinate.
My maternal uncle was a colonel in the Cuban army and was instrumental
in negotiating President Batista’s arrival in the Dominican Republic,
where he was the Military Attache in the Cuban Embassy.
When Castro finally arrived in Havana nine days after President
Batista’s departure, Fidel Castro personally ordered my uncle to
return to Havana — but he refused to obey and saved his life.
Back in 1956, when my uncle was the military attaché in the embassy of
Cuba in Mexico City, Fidel Castro was a political exile in that city
and he kidnapped his son. My uncle got the child back and returned him
to his mother. The Mexican police did absolutely nothing as they have
always been fanatics in support of Fidel Castro.
I can tell more stories like those, which have happened in many other
places. In Venezuela, for example, the American government turned its
back on its ally president, Marcos Perez Jimenez, a graduate of West
Point and a friend of the United States, to seat a card-carrying
Communist, Romulo Betancourt.
My point is that always the underlings end up paying the price for the
mistakes their bosses make; in many cases they even pay with their
life for their loyalty or for the greed of being working for a
successful person, whatever their position is.
That is not the case with Dr. Dipak Desai, when his trial ended last
week with a guilty verdict. The jury just ignored the others who were
as guilty as Dr. Desai himself.
If Dr. Desai was as powerful and as wealthy as all witnesses
testifying during the trial claimed he was, he may not be as guilty as
they claim he is.
It is hard for me to believe that Dr. Desai would stand every morning
at the front door of his Endoscopy Center waiting for his employees to
arrive and give each of them a needle and syringe with the
specification that those tools would have to last them all day,
regardless of how many patients they might have that day.
It is very hard for me to believe that his employees greed and
money-hunger could have been so great as to allow Dr. Desai to FORCE
them to do what they knew was the wrong thing to do.
I understand that when a person is making good money it is very hard
to give up that income, especially in an era such as we are all living
in presently; but when one knows they are being asked to do something
not only unethical but also illegal, they should be able to draw the
line between THAT and just being scared of their boss or intimidated
by the ugly look that boss may give them.
And up to now I am talking about the employees and the supervisors; I
am not talking about the associates or partners who, while they were
putting bundles of money in their pockets — money that allowed them to
maintain two homes, one for the wife and one for the mistress — they
never complained and never once told Dr. Desai to order the employees,
the nurses and anyone else on the staff to stop doing what they were
Not once during the two weeks’ trial did it come up that Dr. Desai’s
partners or associates threatened him with dissolving the partnership;
no one told Dr. Desai that if he did not stop doing what he allegedly
was doing that they would withdraw their money from the partnership
and go somewhere else.
Of course not! The money was too damn good to let go. But when the
sandcastle came down, everyone ran for cover leaving the “good” doctor
on his own.
I believe the jury was very unfair with their verdict: conspiracy,
yes, but murder — no; not at all because I don’t believe that a man as
wealthy as Dr. Desai was would be doing his own dirty work.
Those doing the daily dirty work are the ones who deserve the murder
charges, but they were not even charged with a crime.
It is like in the OJ Simpson case: the snitches, the followers doing
the dirty work to impress the football hall-of-famer and the gangster
wannabes with the guns were not men enough to do the time after
committing the crime — so to avoid becoming someone’s “girlfriend” in
the Big House, they were ready to testify against OJ Simpson.
It is also like the case of Herby Blitzstein’s murder trial. He was
murdered inside his condo — with an FBI car with two agents parked in
front of his place — by someone trying to take his loan shark business
As a disclaimer, this information came public during the trial; I
didn’t have personal knowledge of any of this prior to the trial date,
despite the fact that I knew two of the defendants; in fact, the only
two defendants that were men enough not to make a deal out of the
nineteen people charged with Herby Blitzstein’s death.
Stephen Cino, allegedly a reputed member of the West Coast criminal
organization, and Robert Panaro of Buffalo, allegedly represented the
interests of the East Coast crime family.
The first one died recently and in my opinion was a very decent man, a
good father and good husband, I am proud to have known him. The other
one I have been told is not allowed nor authorized to speak to me, but
the rest of the group worked out some deals and then went home to
However, while Dr. Desai made money for everyone in a select group of
rich people, he is the only one left to pay the consequences of a deal
But I want to give a mention of honor to his wife who stood by him
during the long trial and looked sincerely concerned about the future
of her husband. I saw them walking from the parking garage into the
Regional Justice Center. I felt for the lady that day, and when I left
the courthouse I went and prayed for her.
* * * * *
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
* * * * *
Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column
appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him
at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at (702) 699-8111.