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.

Bashinsky Autopsy


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.

legalschnauzer said...


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.

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.

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.

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.

jeffrey spruill said...

Did he shoot himself in the head before or after he jumped into the water hazard?

legalschnauzer said...


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.

James Greek said...

And while he's at it maybe he should also investigate Ralph Stacy's death as well

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!!!

legalschnauzer said...


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.

greg said...

I have first hand employed the service of a private investigator and all i can say is they are very affective as well as thorough. I agree that one should be hired if it will help.

Austin Tx Private Investigator said...

I see it time and time again that the reason people hire private investigators is because the police who should be doing their job do shoddy work. Sometimes it takes a fresh new pair of eyes to see a given situation differently.