Legal Schnauzer needs to get a life

Received This uplifting report yesterday from Mortica of Locust Fork, Alabama. Must must not be much to do way out there in the boonies:

Here is the entire article (without the autopsy report, which can be seen by clicking on Schnauzer’s link) and posted comments thereto as of 4 a.m. today, October 18.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Could a Private Investigator Uncover the Truth in the Major Bashinsky “Suicide”?

Arturo Gatti

If I were a member of Birmingham’s Bashinsky family–and had plenty of money, as they seem to have–I would promptly put in a call to Paul Ciolino.

Who is Paul Ciolino? He is a Chicago-based private investigator who recently announced that he had helped determine that the death of boxing great Arturo Gatti was not a suicide, contrary to the official findings of authorities in Brazil. Gatti was found dead in his room at a Brazilian resort in July 2009, and it was ruled a suicide by hanging.

The private investigation proved so compelling that officials in Brazil announced that they are reopening their official inquiry. What did the PIs find? Reports the Associated Press:


Experts said . . . Gatti suffered a head injury before being strangled. They also said the strap he allegedly used wasn’t strong enough to hold up his body.

Noted forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht says the position of the body and other evidence shows Gatti was the victim of strangulation.

One can only wonder what the Gatti PIs would make of the Major Bashinsky case. A prominent lawyer and the son of a well-known Alabama businessman, Bashinsky was reported missing in March 2010, and his body was found floating in a golf-course water hazard. Officials found that Bashinsky died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, although there have been no reports of anything that might have driven the affluent, 63-year-old attorney to take his own life.

The Bashinsky autopsy report presents no scientific evidence that points to suicide. News reports, and the autopsy report itself, have been filled with inconsistencies and unanswered questions.

Circumstances surrounding the Arturo Gatti death have been bizarre from the outset–but they probably have nothing on the Bashinsky case. Gatti lived in New Jersey, and here is how a newspaper there described his death:


The immensely popular Gatti, who was born in Montreal but called Jersey City home, was found dead in his room by his wife, Amanda Rodrigues, on July 11, 2009. She was initially charged with murder but on July 30 the charges were dropped and Rodrigues was released by Brazilian authorities. Gatti’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging.

Authorities in Brazil said at the time that Gatti was drunk and despondent over his failing marriage. They said he used Rodrigues’ purse strap to hang himself, as his wife and son, Arturo Jr., slept upstairs.

Brazilian officials actually came up with a more believable story than the one we’ve been handed in the Bashinsky case. They at least stated that Gatti was “drunk and despondent over his failing marriage.”


Major Bashinsky death scene

Alabama officials have never given any reason that Major Bashinsky might have wanted to kill himself. In fact, multiple news outlets have reported that Bashinsky refilled a prescription for cholesterol medication just hours before his disappearance. Does that sound like the act of a man who planned to kill himself?

What does a private investigator think about the official explanation in the Arturo Gatti case? Not much:


Ciolino told The Jersey Journal . . . that the Brazilian investigation was “half-assed” and “The autopsy was totally incomplete. They did a lot of things that were not acceptable practice anywhere in the world. It was just totally inaccurate.”

We have published the medical examiner’s report in the Bashinsky case (see document below), and we’d say that investigation would have to improve to reach the “half-assed” level.

The Bashinsky family would not have to go all the way to Chicago to find a capable PI. I’m sure we have plenty of them right here in Alabama or elsewhere in the South.

For the record, we do not know that someone in the Bashinsky family hasn’t already consulted a PI. We only know that nothing has been reported about it. In a disturbing twist to the Major Bashinsky story, one of his cousins, Charles “Bubba” Major, was reported to have expressed doubts about the official finding and wound up dead himself–also reportedly a suicide.

Bubba Major was one of Alabama’s finest golfers, and I interviewed him several times during my days as a sportswriter at the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald. Bubba Major was a big man, with a big personality, and I got the impression that he would not be easily intimidated or quieted. Did he ask too many questions for his own good regarding the death of his cousin?

Perhaps now is a good time to clear up something. I’ve had several readers ask, “Who do you think murdered Major Bashinsky?” or “Why do you think he was murdered?” I’ve never said that I think Major Bashinsky was murdered. The main point I’ve tried to get across is this: The information that we have from news accounts and the autopsy report does not lead to a conclusion of suicide; in fact, it doesn’t even point very strongly in that direction.

Based on my research, the manner of death in the Major Bashinsky case should have been classified as “undetermined”–and a serious investigation should have ensued. That never happened. And that’s why another set of professional eyes needs to take a look at the case.

If I were a friend or relative of Major Bashinsky–and had the necessary resources–I would not rest until a real investigation was conducted.

Actually, I am aware of one private investigator who has taken a brief look at the Bashinsky case. He was not being paid by anyone, so he could only do so much. But he visited the apparent crime scene and talked with individuals at a key location in the Bashinsky story. He discovered information that adds even more doubts to the official finding of suicide. We will examine that information in an upcoming post.


Anonymous said…
Very intriguing. Do you have any information on the background of Major Bashinsky? Why would someone want to kill him and then cover it up? I will be following this very closely, thank you for posting this.
October 17, 2011 10:20 AM
legalschnauzer said…
Anon:If you go to the search function at the top of my blog, you can type in “Major Bashinsky,” and it will call up everything I’ve written on the case. It includes a lot of background.
October 17, 2011 10:23 AM
Anonymous said…
It would be safer for the PI and less likely to be influenced by local authorities if he or she came from some significant distance away. I doubt anyone in a position of influence who might not want a full investigation has an influence ambit running too far outside the South.Of course, it’s possible the Bashinsky family don’t want it further investigated.
October 17, 2011 12:57 PM
legalschnauzer said…
“Of course, it’s possible the Bashinsky family don’t want it further investigated.”An excellent point, and that might very well be the case. Have they been the targets of an intimidation campaign? Would not be surprised.
October 17, 2011 1:01 PM
Sloan Bashinsky said…
Hi, Sloan Bashinsky, Major’s older brother here. I tried to post a reply but it was too long for this blog to accept. I do not see an email address, perhaps I need new reading glasses, to send the reply to Schnauzer. I can be reached at, if Schnauzer or anyone cares to see my reply, which does not agree with Schnauzer’s views. Schnauzer has published excepts from past reports by me on this topic, which were on my websites. I hope he will publish my reply.
October 17, 2011 3:04 PM
jeffrey spruill said…
Did he shoot himself in the head before or after he jumped into the water hazard?
October 17, 2011 3:08 PM
legalschnauzer said…
Sloan:My e-mail address is published on the front page of the blog, but it’s not easy to see, so you might have missed it.It’s You are welcome to send your response to me there.
October 17, 2011 3:34 PM
James Greek said…
And while he’s at it maybe he should also investigate Ralph Stacy’s death as well
October 17, 2011 4:52 PM
David said…
Given all of Legal Schnauzer’s seeming never ending unresolved conflicts with certain members of the legal profession (which seems to be an oxymoron) should search some libraries for copy of Slon Bashinsky’s now out-of- print literary effort entitled “Kill All the Lawyers? – A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers”.BTW, did here the one about what do you call 2,000 Alabama lawyers lying at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? – A good start!!!
October 18, 2011 1:24 AM
legalschnauzer said…
David:I’ve actually read that Sloan Bashinsky book, and I thought it was quite good. Also read “Lambs to the Slaughter,” his book about first-time home buyers. I highly recommend both books. I have a hard time making it through Sloan’s blog posts, mainly because everything seems to come down to what “angels” tell him. But his books are pretty darned good, in this reviewers opinion.
October 18, 2011 1:34 AM
Not long after posting my comment about not being able to post my full comment, I sent this by email to Roger Shuler, who publishes Legal Schnauzer. As of 4 a.m. this morning, it was not posted.
After submitting the brief comment to your blog just a bit ago, I looked again at your homepage and found your remail address. 


Major Bashinsky’s older brother Sloan here. Days before the Jefferson County Coroner came back with the suicide finding, in which the BPD concurred, according to what I read in the Bham News, I said I felt Major had killed himself and had tried to make it out to look like someone else had done it. I gave a reason: he was bi-sexual and someone was going to out him and he could not prevent it. I said this was what I was hearing from angels who rode herd on me. It made sense to me. Murder did not make sense. I wrote that on my websites, which caused considerable conversation in Alabama for a few weeks, based on huge increase in visits to the websites during that time frame, and based on what people in Birmingham were telling me.

Just days after Major went missing, before his body was found, I was interviewed by a award-winning Bham News business journalist. When the reporter called me, I said it had only just occurred to me that Major did himself in and tried to disguise it. The reporter said that sent chills up and down his spine because he had only just been thinking of that same scenario. We talked serveral times that day, getting my part of it right. He said the article would run the next day. The article didn’t run, and when I called the journalist, he said higher ups at the News had killed the article. I then was blocked out of the Bham News blog, as were two Alabama women I had not previously known until they contacted me, who, sequentially, started posting my online comments there under new accounts they had opened.
Schnauzer did report my views and respectfully disagreed. Schnauzer’s last report on Major’s death, which I saw, argued that what the Coroner reported as a contact wound, gun pressed against the left side of the head when fired, was not a contact wound but was fired from two or more feet away. The Coroner saw the gunshot wound, Schnauzer did not, at least not based on anything I have seen him write about Major’s death. The Coroner noted the way Major’s wrists were tied provided range of motion such as would have allowed Major to shoot himself in the left side of the head. He was right-handed, if he was trying to make it look like murder, yeah, he would have done it left-handed. An identical pistol, a rare Browning .32 model, was discovered in a glass case in our father’ home – some kind of joke I didn’t know of until I read the FBI documents I received under a Freedom of Information Request.
The pond scene at Highland Golf Course, next to busy Highland Avenue, and in plain view from the Chestnut Hills subdivision on the opposite bluff, was an highly unlikely place to kill someone, or force someone at gun point out of a vehicle, over the short fence, to the pond, or to carry a body out of a vehicle, over the fence, to the middle of the pond. A perp would have had to be wanting to get caught. A perp would have had to have help. Major was maybe the toughest person I ever knew. I seriously doubt he would have gone quietly. More likely, perps would do it on the back side of Lake Purdy. Or, it occurred to me, a perp was solicited by Major and was in on it. More than all else, Major’s image was the most important thing to him. No way he could be outed for being bisexual, not in Bham anyway, with his mainstream image and Mt Brook, Birmingham Country Club, Birmingham and State Bar Association and church connections, in such a publicly prominent family. Someone wrote to me during that time, reporting that a gay friend of his, this correspondent was not gay, had told him it was known in the gay community that Major had a very active sex life with gay men.
I had known Major was bisexual since around 1971. He did ot tell me directly, but his actions told me. It never mattered to me. But it mattered to him that it not be known in Birmingham. He would go to great length to disguise his suicide as something else, for that reason, and to try to save his second wife and their children from believing he had walked off and left them in that way. He would have behaved normally all the way up to the end to maintain an all is well perception; and perhaps there were insurance reasons – a suicide escape clause for a life insurance company. He had life insurance, his wife asked the insurance company about it after he went missing, that was in the FBI records I received. There was nothing in the FBI records casting doubt on the suicide finding by the Coroner.
Major’s first wife, Gayle, recently deceased from brain cancer, which had onset maybe two years before Major’s death, she told me that just after Major went missing, had no problem with the suicide determination. Her and Major’s daughter had no problem with it. Bubba Major had a problem with it, he told me he just could not believe Major would do that. Then, Bubba killed himself with a pistol, and left a suicide note in his own handwriting, I read in what someone sent to me. Bubba and I were in regular email dialogue, I knew he was very depressed, I wish I had pressed him about that. I do not doubt he killed himself.
I hope Schnauzer will not try to make it out that Gayle, Major’s first wife, was murdered.
Schnauzer already, despite my attempts to explain it to him, expressed his suspicions several times that Major’s and my step sister, Suzanne, whom our father had adopted, died under suspicious circumstances. I told Schnauzer, via emails, that I learned shortly after Major went missing, from Gayle, that Suzanne was dying of a very bad cancer.
It always has looked to me that Schnauzer has transferred his dislike for Bob Riley and Chip Hazelrig into the deaths in my family and has colored Schnauzer’s judgment, in my opinion. I hope Schnauzer will publish this comment, like he published other stuff I wrote elsewhere about my brother and family. Perhaps more later.
I can be reached at
See, it doesn’t matter where in America I talk about angels. As soon as I do that, people quit listening. Boy, are they going to be seriously surprised when their roll is called up yonder. Boy, are they going to be surprised.

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