Thirty-three-year-old Richard Rick Tabish was born March 15, 1965, in Missoula, Montana, to Frank and Lani Tabish, the second of three boys. His father owned and operated a petroleum distribution company and was one of the wealthiest men in Missoula. As a result, his sons never had to want for anything and were afforded a childhood of comfort and opulence. After graduating from Big Sky High School in 1983, Tabish entered the University of Montana in Missoula but dropped out after only two quarters of attendance. Afterward, he became a familiar face at the Missoula County Jail. Most of his early offenses were for drinking, driving under the influence, and fighting, prompting the cops to characterize him as a wild kid with more money than brains. His favorite pastimes soon included chasing women, working out and being unemployed, and he seemed to relish the defiant persona that he had developed for himself.
By the time he was twenty, Tabish had stolen a 17th century painting valued at more than $600,000 from the home of a prominent Missoula attorney who also happened to be a family friend. After being caught for the crime, Tabish confessed and returned the painting. As part of the plea-bargain arrangement, he received a three-year suspended sentence and did not serve any jail time.
Two years later, in November 1987, Tabish was involved in a motor vehicle altercation that turned into road rage. The incident began when another driver had purportedly given him the finger as he passed him. Tabish caught up with the other driver, pulled him over to the side of the road, and physically assaulted him as the prevailing party during a fistfight. Tabish was subsequently charged with aggravated assault for the attack against the Missoula resident, was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay $800 in restitution. Except for forty-one days that he had to serve in jail, the rest of the sentence was suspended.
On another occasion, also in the 1980s, Tabish allegedly stole $2,500 from a restaurant owned by one of his friends. The case was handled out of court, the restaurants owner was repaid, and Tabish was not charged with the theft.
However, in 1988 Tabish moved to Arizona for a short time. Along with two other men, he was suspected of operating a drug ring in Montana. Following surveillance and an investigation, Tabish and his cohorts were arrested for shipping a quarter-pound of cocaine from Arizona to Montana in a Federal Express package. In 1988 Tabish pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to ten years in prison, with seven years suspended. He served nine months in prison, was paroled and placed on probation for the remainder of his sentence. His probation formally ended in 1997.
While on parole and probation, Tabish obtained a job for a rock-crushing business. During this period Tabish began thinking about running his own business, met the owners daughter, Mary Jo Rehbein, married her in 1991 and fathered two children with her. During the 1990s Tabish started a number of small businesses, including Telepro, a telecommunications company, Wash Works, Incorporated, a truck-washing business, and finally a truck-hauling company that he called MRT Transport, a company that provided trucks and equipment for use on construction jobsites in Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. Although characterized as a hard worker, Tabish encountered cash-flow problems with each of his ventures. After his probation was up, he decided to head for Las Vegas to make a new start, hoping to break his string of bad luck. He left Mary Jo and the kids in Montana, and planned to send for them after becoming established in Nevada. Things had not worked out the way that he had planned, however, and Mary Jo and the kids remained in Montana. Rick only saw his family when hed come home on an occasional weekend.
After arriving in Las Vegas, he quickly set up and started MRT Transportation, a subsidiary of his Montana trucking operation, as well as MRT Contracting and MRT Leasing. Always carrying a cellular telephone, Tabish quickly made a name for himself within the Las Vegas business community. In his feverish drive to succeed, he rapidly made contacts and soon found that he was meeting even more people through those initial contacts in his search for an investor with money to spend. He had heard about Ted Binion, and when he met him in the mens room at Pieros it was as if fate had dealt him a winning hand.
As time went on, Tabish and Binion became closer to one another. Tabish was known to visit Binion and Sandy Murphy at their home, and they would even socialize together publicly. Sometimes Ted would even ask Rick to tag along with Sandy when she went shopping, to keep an eye on her. As he continued to build Binions trust, it wasnt long before the subject of Binions silver came up, and Binion began talking of wanting to move it out of his garage to a location near his ranch in Pahrump, a small desert town about sixty miles southwest of Las Vegas. Rick Tabishs name came up during conversations that Binion held with an acquaintance, a part-time building contractor, who told him that Tabish had a reputation as a contractor and was qualified to help Binion build a suitable storage vault for his silver.
Binion owned a piece of property in Pahrump that consisted of several acres right in the center of town about a mile from his ranch, where Highway 160 intersects with Highway 372, the road to Death Valley. The property was situated on one side next to a Terrible Herbst casino known as Terribles Town, owned by the Herbst family, and on the other side a Burger King and a Smiths Food King supermarket. A McDonalds restaurant was located across the highway, as was a gas station and convenience store. It was the busiest intersection in Pahrump, where people came and went day and night. In keeping with his penchant for burying things, Binion wanted to build an underground cement vault on the sites northwest corner where he could store his seven million dollars in silver. Binion eventually asked Tabish to build the vault for him and, after surveying the area with Binion, Tabish agreed. When construction of the concrete vault was completed, Tabish, Binion and a group of men who worked for Tabish transported Binions silver to Pahrump on July 4, 1998, and sealed it ten feet underground. Afterward, Tabish asked Binion if he wanted to change the combination to the vaults lock so that only Binion would know it. But Binion had declined, and said that he trusted Tabish.