Showing posts with label Rosemary's 2 Million Estate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosemary's 2 Million Estate. Show all posts

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NEVER MORE THAN A MYTH


The Myth of Rosemary LaBianca’s $2Million Estate Concludes.

First, full disclosure and credit: 
I do not have the technology readily available to post the documents I have specifically referrred to, however I am grateful that they can be found by visiting the Truth on Tate/LaBianca website at: 
http://truthontatelabianca.com/forums/estate-paperwork-of-leno-and-rosemary-labianca.591/

Some of the information from Leno’s estate will be repeated here, because they certainly have a bearing on Rosemary’s estate because of “Community Property” issues and such….but let’s review the argument I am making:

All the documents I can find support my contention that the $2 million estate never existed in the first place.  And I can find no evidence whatsoever that discounts my contention.  If anyone has solid evidence to prove me wrong, I welcome it.  At least then, we would know there is something there. Until then, again I state, that I am absolutely serious when I say-- It may all have come down to a clerk’s mistake in the paperwork, or in a reporter’s interpretation of the paperwork.  Or, if that figure was ever actually said aloud in court, it was only ever a hastily drawn estimate done by Suzan Struthers and her attorney, and they ultimately were mistaken.

Remember Suzan is the first to file in court, on August 21st, only 11 days after her mother’s murder, and is appointed Special Administratrix of Rosemary’s Estate.  It is somehow out of these proceedings (which are reported on, in what passed for the mass-media in 1969), that the $2 Million figure is first bandied about... and this one newspaper article has served as the sole source for all others who quote it... whether it be Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, that Fug Ed Sanders, or 21st century bloggers like us.

What’s more, is Suzan may have surely been aware right from the start, that Rosemary’s Estate was not worth that much, because she posted a bond for only $60,000 which she acquired for the cost of $228.00 (from an insurance office in Watertown, NY of all places), where I happened to spend a week one afternoon in the 70s.  The significance of that bond, and its amount, will be discussed later.

Per this court proceeding, notice was given to Leno’s now 21 year old daughter, Cory, and the oft-mentioned ex-wife Alice, because she was the legal guardian of Leno’s two other children who were not yet of age.

We’ve already dealt with Leno’s Estate selling of the Waverly house in the earlier post.  That proceeding has no bearing on Rosemary’s Estate.

Discussed also was Ray Norwood’s (Gateway) claim against Rosemary’s Estate under community property provisions for $119,128.14.  This is a duplicate claim from Leno’s Estate as well.

Summit Finance did also sue Rosemary’s Estate for $369,596.00 and $16,350.00 plus interest and attorney’s fees under the same community property premise.

What’s so maddening about all this, is that we never seem to be able to find how these claims were eventually adjudicated and disposed of.  Although, we can surmise that it didn’t end very well, because we know the LaBiancas lost their business to creditors... both because of Alice’s book, and also by the parole testimonies over the years by other family members.  Plus, Gateway was sold-off to another grocery company.  Knowing the name of that company would be helpful as well, because I have often heard rumors…

But anyway, Rosemary’s Estate lingered on in litigation until almost the mid-1970s.  In March of 1971, Suzan had to give notice of a change in her attorneys, and her filing claims she sent notice to the Summit Finance Corporation, the Bank of America in LA, Cory LaBianca’s attorneys, and the company from which she purchased the bond mentioned earlier.  This means all these parties still had an interest in the estate.

And, in what may be confirmation of the “Frank Struthers Sr. accuses Suzan of ripping off her half-brother Frank, Jr.” school of thought:  
On May 3, 1973, Frank Sr. files a request for special notice as guardian of Frank Jr., so that he receives notice of “the filing of all petitions, accounts, and reports in said estate…”  In 1973?  Almost four years after the murders. Makes me wonder what transpired between Suzan and her brother and them all over that time period.

So both Franks were sure to be privy to inventory and appraisement of Rosemary’s Estate which was filed by Suzan Struthers on March 5, 1974, which placed it at a value of $70,075.58.  To be able to do this, Suzan again had to post a bond, this time in the amount of $20,000.00.  This inventory is divided into separate property, Rosemary’s only, which amounts to $35,923.38 and includes costume jewelry and a diamond ring, and interestingly enough, a ten percent interest in a coin collection?  Rosemary also owned the boat and trailer too.  What was worth the most apparently were her shares in the State Wholesale Grocery Company, which was Gateway, most of which were class b or non-voting shares, but $11,000 of it were class A voting shares.  Interesting.  Not sure if these shares were hers alone, or if it’s possible that Rosemary ‘inherited’ these shares, so to speak, if it was determined that Leno died first and in the absence of a valid will?  The law is indeed a complicated thing. 

The Joint Tenancy property is valued at $34,152.20 and is very interesting. Rosemary is credited with only half of what it’s all worth... the rest presumably belonging to Leno’s Estate.  This includes two pieces of property which have been foreclosed, a General Motors rebate of around $20 and a gas company rebate of around $12.  $10 and $6 for Rosemary’s part respectively.  What strikes me right off the bat, is that what’s listed as “Joint Tenancy Property” is essentially worthless, just a few hundred dollars really, and this may be what the creditors may ultimately be able to get their hands on.  The BIG money, for what that’s all worth, is clearly labeled as Rosemary’s alone, and may be unreachable as far as the creditors go.  The combined shares worth around $28,000 and a Gateway profit sharing plan worth around $4,000.  Here again, I mention the boat and the trailer which was appraised at just over $1000 because, well, it would be fun to own a boat and a trailer wouldn’t it?  Especially if you’re young.  Like Suzan was.  Frank, Jr. too.

So that’s it.  That’s the list. 

Whatever became of Rosemary’s Dress Shop?  I have no idea except that it’s never mentioned in any of the documents.  If it happened to be located at 2279-83 Glendale Blvd (Which Leno bought alone according to the police) or 3937 and 3937 ½ Revere Avenue, those are the two properties foreclosed.  If she had a business partner, and apparently she did, (Ruth Sivick who is the one who took care of the dogs on Waverly at about 6pm on Saturday, August 10th while they were away)... what was the nature of their partnership?  Did it exist on paper?  Was it a legal partnership?  Or was it more like Lennon-McCartney and/or the kind that exists to this day between Frankie Valli and Bob Guadio which is still on the basis of a handshake from 1963 or so.

At any rate, perhaps the partner inherited the business and whatever became of it, as by the time she testifies at the trial, Mrs. Sivick claims that by herself she owns SPORTY KNIT and was a partner with Rosemary in her previous business which was BOUTIQUE CARRIAGE located on Figueroa, which is the same street as one of the Gateways, and I’ve heard that it may have been located in the same exact plaza as the Gateway itself.

So, whatever.

But what seals the deal for me, and what I believe to be the best evidence which exists disproving a $2Million Estate, comes from the existence of the Probate Bonds, and how much they were for.

To review, from the earlier post:  
"A probate bond is a monetary amount rendered in order to insure that estate proceedings are processed legally and fairly as well as honestly.  Some states require the executor of an estate to post a probate bond when the estate holder dies as part of the distribution process.  It protects beneficiaries basically.  But the amount also indicates what the estate is probably worth."

The records show that Suzan posted two bonds... one for $60,000 in August of 1969 (when she first petitioned to be named Administratrix of her murdered mother’s estate)... and one for $20,000 in March of 1974 (when that estate was inventoried and appraised).

Here’s where we need a legal historian to weigh in... or even perhaps, a disbarred lawyer from Long Island, if anybody out there happens to know one who may just be a Hoya too: 
In today’s market, from what I can gather from bing and Google and my own personal connections, a Probate Bond typically must be worth twice the amount of the personal property in the estate, except for real estate unless the heirs are going to sell the property.  Twice as much!  Is this a new thing?  Newer than 1969?  Again, in my non-lawyerly mind, it certainly seems to indicate that the $2 Million was never ever more than a myth.  Sixty Grand represents just 3% of two million bucks.  Twenty Grand only 1% (math even I can do!).

Common sense tells me that even in 1969 California; these numbers wouldn’t have been deemed sufficient, with so much more at stake.  Unless proven otherwise, I say we put this matter to rest once and for all, especially for fodder about the true motive for these awful murders.

Until then, sorry, but there is no more to come.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Leno LaBianca Estate... and how it got that way.


Ok, let’s deal with Leno first as his estate is pretty much straightforward:
Leno was broke.  Nothing more to it.  This should come as no surprise to any of us.  When all of his assets were sold off it wasn’t enough to cover all his obligations.  His business – his family’s business – subsequently failed.

Let’s begin with what Alice LaBianca has to say in No More Tomorrows which she calls “A Biographical Novel” (whatever that means).  Also, in the author’s note, she says the story is how she remembers it, “mostly fact, some fiction.”  Oh boy.  Caveat noted.

Leno’s business, Gateway, had been started by his father and mother.  Leno’s father expanded it to include a second wholesale business which was eventually sold off once market conditions made it the smart move.  They were somewhat closed corporations… there were shareholders but there were two types of shares, voting and non-voting, and all the shareholders were mostly family involved in the business anyway.  

Anthony, Leno’s father, manipulated the shares in such a way that he controlled the most votes and so he was basically able to appoint whomever he wanted to positions of power.  This is how Leno eventually came to be in charge.  Anthony’s brother, Sam, owned only 19% of the stock and it wasn’t enough for him to keep his position as vice-president once Anthony decided Leno should replace him.  


So in 1950 Leno was first appointed to the board and then the board appointed him VP of both Gateway and the Wholesale Corporations.  According to Alice LaBianca, Sam didn’t speak to them for more than a year.  Also, Leno’s sisters were upset by it too, as their husbands the Petes (Smaldino and DeSantis) were passed-over as well.  Leno’s older sister (Smaldino) was particularly miffed her husband wasn’t made VP.


In 1951, Anthony died and so at 26 Leno became the President of both corporations.  He inherited 3301 Waverly Drive too, known by the LaBianca family as Oak Terrace and moved in.  Leno’s mom moved into an apartment on the property in the back of the garage, like she was Fonzie or something.  Leno and Alice sold their house in Alhambra and bought a beach house which was for them to live in the future, but had to be rented out upon purchase, to afford it.  Leno owned the exact same amount of stock as his sisters, but he was solely responsible for the success of the business.  The pressure is building.

Leno and Alice begin to have marital problems, and in 1954 they both move out of Waverly and into separate apartments... Alice with the children.  Leno’s mother moves back into the house and she eventually buys it back from Leno.  By the time Alice has their third child, Leno is growing very distant.  He bought Alice a new house and they sold their beach house.  After a couple of half-hearted reconciliation attempts, they knew their marriage was over in 1956 and Alice begins to feel a sense of foreboding about the house on Waverly.  It’s isolated, separated from the house on one side by the large wall, and by over 200 feet on the other side.

By 1957 Leno had sold-off the Wholesale business and had expanded Gateway.  Alice remarried and in 1959, Leno had met and fallen in love with Rosemary, complaining that he always falls for women who want careers.

Early 60s and Leno’s brother-in-law Peter Smaldino wants out.  This is notable because in the Second Homicide Report it’s noted that Ray Norwood, the company treasurer, tells the police that Leno and Smaldino didn’t get along and Leno thought Smaldino was always watching him.  Alice claims that Smaldino objected to being second fiddle to Leno and also that Leno was expanding the business too fast and borrowing too much money and that he didn’t want to stand by while Leno “loses it all”.

Norwood told the police that in 1964, Gateway sold some of their stores and received $400,000... but because of the sale, they were making less income and were still paying three executive salaries, and one of those executive salaries had to be cut.  According to Norwood, Smaldino volunteered, if his terms were met.

What Norwood and Alice both agree on, is that Smaldino wanted his stock to be redeemed in cash.  Norwood says Leno unwisely agreed to pay Smaldino $250,000 (in cash) to get rid of him, so he would be free to do as he pleased.  According to Alice, Leno’s attorney advised against it, suggesting Leno only pay him 25% of his shares in cash, and take a note for the rest.  In that case, Smaldino would still be on the board.  Leno said it was his mother’s decision.  According to Leno, she suggested to him, it was best to make peace with the family... pay them their cash... and let them go.  So they did, and the Smaldinos opened-up their own liquor store business.  Alice says, this is the beginning of the end for Gateway.

Now, remember that Smaldino is the one who suggests to the police that the murders may be mafia-related because of Leno’s gambling debts.  But the other Pete, Pete DeSantis, who is the head of the Sons of Italy, doubts it.  DeSantis is Leno’s other brother-in-law who remained at Gateway, and Norwood describes him as allowing Leno to do whatever he pleased, because he was always so distracted by his duties with the Sons of Italy.

Alice writes of Rosemary opening a boutique in an old Gateway truck and then opening up a dress shop with a partner in Beverly Hills.   They bought the Disney house and then sold it quickly for a nice profit because it was more trouble than it was worth... and then of course, bought the Waverly house back from his mother for $18,000... and eventually (as we shall see documented), takes out a second mortgage on the place for $44,000.

Sometime in 1968 Alice writes, that Leno called her and stated he was trying to get out of the grocery business for good... and asked her to lend him enough money, to buy out Pete DeSantis’ shares... and then he could have control and sell the company off for good.  Alice says she could have lent him $20,000, but that was all... and it wasn’t enough.  1968?  Begs the question: If Rosemary is so successful, why can't she front him the money?  Why go to your ex-wife when your current wife is lying right next to you? 

Alice also writes, that around this time, is when the neighborhood started to turn with hippies and pot parties and such.  Remember also, that it is about this time, that Harold True and his folks are living next door, and that the Waverly house has apparently been broken-into more than once.


April 1969 Leno and Alice’s daughter Cory turns 21.  This allows her to be appointed administratrix for Leno’s estate in a couple of more months.  Leno comes to visit her... and Alice and Cory notice something a bit strange about him, describing him as “preoccupied and upset”.

On April 9th Leno writes Cory a letter which updates her on all of his horses, most notably ‘The Kildare Lady.’  Leno refers to these horses as “our” horses.  Whose?  He and Rosemary’s?  It’s never clear, but there are pictures (as well) of two of them... one with one of Alice’s daughter riding... and one which Alice named "Leno’s Lady", once she bought them after Leno’s death.  Alice wasn’t able to hold onto the two horses for long either, but she writes of Leno’s plans to buy a ranch and raise these horses full-time.  Alice never says it is any secret, so I can only assume that Rosemary must have known about them as well.  Why they remained a secret from the LaBianca side can only be surmised, but I bet we can surmise on that in a bit.  This is the letter also, where Leno complains of two “pot parties” being broken up by the cops right next door on Waverly.

Alice writes that Leno was trying to make a final agreement to leave Gateway (because the jig was up and everyone knew about Leno's misdeeds with the company's bucks - editorial comment), which he only could accomplish, if someone bought-out his shares... and that Leno’s attorney wrote-up a proposal that Pete DeSantis would buy them all, over a period of ten years.  DeSantis was skeptical of this arrangement and objected.  Leno went to his mother, but she told him they would just have to weather these troubles as well. 

The Second Homicide Report has DeSantis learning after Leno’s death, that Leno planned to buy a ranch in Vista, California for $127,000, but that he had no idea where he could possibly get the money, because by this time, they all knew... (both Petes and Leno’s mother)... that Leno had been misappropriating lots of money from the business for quite some time, and restitution was to be made.

Alice has it that ostensibly on August 8th; Pete called Leno and told him that after talking with Leno’s mother, that they could work something out as a birthday present.  But in the Homicide Report, DeSantis claims no such thing, and further goes on to state that he thought Leno’s exit proposal was “absurd”, because it wouldn’t even come close to covering what Leno had taken from the company.   He thought it to be only a bargaining point and that he never got to discuss it with Leno because the meeting on August 9th never happened.  DeSantis also admitted he thought Leno’s mother would have been generous to Leno, even though he didn’t deserve it.

Alice writes of her interrogation by the LAPD, and that she was incredulous about what they were insinuating about Leno's lifestyle and gambling addiction, as well as drug dealing and mafia connections.  Drug dealing?  The police insinuated this?  Why, pray tell?  This is the first solid connection even hinted at that the police may have been concerned about a drug connection.

Alice writes that she returned to Waverly in September to collect things for her children.  The house was sold almost immediately (if October 1970 is immediately, as we shall see) and that Leno had a will naming her as trustee, but that he never signed it, which is why the court appointed their daughter Cory as administratrix.

Leno’s interest in Gateway was a minority one, so it wasn’t appraised, but everything had to be sold because the liabilities far outweighed the assets.  She could have bought Leno’s minority share for $10,000 and claims that it was worth much more, but because Pete DeSantis told her she would never have any say in the business she declined, and it was bought by the creditors.  Within one year after that, the family business was no more.  Six years after Leno’s death, his mother died and the estate was finally settled.


Some thoughts:  

Ray Norwood, the Gateway Treasurer, in the second homicide report tells the police that Gateway was a successful and stable company which always operated at a profit until 1962, which was the time that Leno began taking “advances” from the company in excess of his own salary and expenses.  This was after his marriage to Rosemary.

Alice’s description of Rosemary is pretty good.  She says she kept her distance from Alice and that they were polite, but that Rosemary was good to Alice's children and was particularly close with Cory, and that she always participated in the LaBianca family’s activities.  No hint of any marital trouble with Leno is made at all.

LaBianca Family Statements at the parole hearings also bear out the state of financial affairs described by Alice and borne out by the records.  In 1998 Alice herself said at Leslie Van Houten’s hearing, Make no mistake about it, the entire LaBianca family has suffered untold deprivation, frustration, anxiety and financial ruin because of these murders. Leno's mother died of a broken heart just six years after her son's murder, losing the business to merciless creditors - the family business that Leno was managing and she and Leno's father had founded in the late 1920's. We emphatically oppose the release of any of the Manson ménage...We also want to say that Suzanne LaBerge, daughter of Rosemary, the murdered wife of Leno at the time, does not represent the LaBianca family. She certainly did not represent us at that May 4, 1990 parole hearing for Tex Watson, when she made that pathetic appeal for his release because she "forgave" him. As Ms. Van Houten continues her incarceration, let her continue to remember that what she did that fateful night was forever. The Manson family mark on this society is deep. As deep as the stab wounds to their helpless victims."

The Smaldino family has also made statements from time to time at LVH Parole hearings.  As late as 2010 and 2013 Louis Smaldino, Pete’s son, spoke of the financial ruin their family faced as a result of the once successful family business being lost.


What Leno’s Estate Documents Tell Us:

The house at Waverly Drive was sold and closed in October of 1970.  Leno’s daughter Cory was named administratrix.  It sold for $55,750.  The buyers assumed the $41,997.25 unpaid balance of the mortgage and paid cash for the rest as the property was in “breach’.  The legal sale document reads, Said sale was made for the advantage, benefit and best interest of the estate of Leno A. LaBianca, deceased, in that said property is the residence in which said decedent was murdered and has been difficult to sell; that said sale is required to generate cash for the purpose of paying legal and other taxes; that there is little or no cash in said estate to pay the debts thereof, and that it is necessary to sell substantially all of the property therein to meet said obligations.”  It further goes on to state that the sale price was at least 90% of the appraised value of the property.  Also in this document, it states that Cory has secured a probate bond of $91,400 and that after the sale of this property that “the value of the personal property and of the probable annual income from the remaining real property belonging to the estate will not be in excess of $91,400.

A probate bond is a monetary amount rendered in order to insure that estate proceedings are processed legally and fairly, as well as honestly.  Some states require the executor of an estate to post a probate bond when the estate holder dies as part of the distribution process.  It protects beneficiaries basically.  But the amount also indicates what the estate is probably worth.  In this case, less than $100,000 which is what the police estimated may have been Leno’s total worth in shares at Gateway, income, etc.

Next in January, 1971 we have Ray Norwood’s declaration as the Controller-Accountant of the State Wholesale Grocery Company, which was a claim of $119,128.14 made against both Leno and Rosemary’s estates because of community property provisions, broken down as follows:  $25,057.00 as balance due on principal and interest on a note from October 15, 1964.  Personal advances to Leno in the amount of $77,171.14 which were made at his direction dating back to May, 1960 and continuing until August of 1969.  Details of how these advances were made can be found in the homicide report, as well as noting that Leno did make payments back to the company twice, $15 grand in ’68 and $30 grand in ’69.

Advances to MA Findley of $10,200.  This is Alice LaBianca herself, in 1965, ’67 and ’68 and may have been child support payments.  Mr. Norwood also suspected payments made to the Almour Corporation were child support payments made directly to Alice as a dummy corporation.  The homicide report says the police will continue to thoroughly examine this aspect of the finances, but if they did we don’t know, and Alice hasn’t told us.  Probably after the arrests the police stopped looking.

Advances were also made to C. Chatham, a personal friend of Leno’s.  $6000.00 outstanding.  Who is C. Chatham and why does she have $6000 of Gateway's money?

Leno also from time to time would cash his own personal checks at his various stores.  Sometimes the checks would bounce, and Mr. Norwood claims an unpaid balance of $700.00 for these.

Let’s remember that Leno also had trouble at least once because he skimmed the money from the Money Order part of his business at the stores, and had to secure a personal loan to pay it back.  This reminds me of how sometimes storeowners cheat the lottery for a while until they get over their head and lose it.  In fact, why didn’t this guy ever get indicted?  These certainly are prosecutorial offenses.  But I digress.

In November, 1966 Leno and Peter DeSantis secured a $400,000 note with two deeds of trusts as collateral.  In October of 1969 this had an unpaid balance of $369,596.04 and the Summit Finance Corporation sued Rosemary’s estate for that amount plus interest and attorney’s fees in the belief that “Claimant is informed and believes that property subject to administration in decedent’s estate (Rosemary’s) is liable for satisfaction…”  Before that, back in February of 1966 Summit Finance had also loaned Leno $25,000 and so they also sued Rosemary’s estate for the unpaid balance of $16,350.00 plus interest and attorney’s fees.  I haven’t seen the documents, but I can only assume that just like Mr. Norwood’s Gateway claim, that these are duplicates of claims made against Leno’s estate as well, and may be borne out by the fact that the final document I reviewed specifically referring to Leno’s estate is from March of 1975 when Leno’s son Anthony, now as the administrator of Leno’s estate, basically sued the Summit Finance Corporation to question them for embezzling and concealing the property of the estate.  In other words, my non-lawyerly mind tells me, Anthony wished to sue to either regain some or all of the property which the court conveyed to Summit as restitution, or to be compensated fairly for it.  As if it was done in error.  I have no idea, but would love to know how that all turned out.

Combine all this, with the fact that we know Leno also had an outstanding personal loan of $30,000, as well as a loan for the boat, and we can know for certain that Leno was a very desperate man in August of 1969.  Again, as Lynyrd has pointed out, most gamblers have debts that are both on and off the books, so who knows what all else Leno may have had going on?  I know it myself, because although I have paid most of it off, I still owe my sister $200 from a little trouble I got in (not gambling) back in 2009-2010.  I also know from a good friend’s family issues with gambling, and substantial on-the-books legal debts that, once a person dies, if you have a good lawyer, the spouse of the person may not necessarily be on the hook for debts in the other spouse’s name.   At least now.  In New York in 2014.  What the deal was in California in 1969 I do not know.


So, as for Rosemary LaBianca?  More to come….

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Myth of the $2 Million Estate

Ok, I am officially calling BULLSHIT on the notion that Rosemary LaBianca had an estate worth anything near $2 Million.

And it's about time too, as this should have been fairly well cleared up long ago, and many of us should probably feel embarrassed that we have allowed this to go on for so long.

Is it possible it was just a typo?  Groove on this:

As it often happens, this begins with a newspaper story (See Below).


Slain Woman Had Estate Of $2 Million

Friday, August 22nd, 1969

LOS ANGELES, Aug 22 – An estate of about $2 million was left by a woman found slain with her husband under bizarre circumstances in their expensive home, court records showed Thursday in Los Angeles.
Police have theorized the slayer or slayers were imitating whoever murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others the day before.

Rosemary LaBianca, 38, was found stabbed to death in the hillside home she shared with her second husband. Leno LaBianca, 44, a supermarket chain owner.

Near the LaBianca’s bodies, police found scrawled in blood words including “pig” leading to the theory the slayers mimicked those of Miss Tate, hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie writer Voityck Frokowsky, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and 18-year-old Steven Parent. On Miss Tate’s door was scrawled “Pig.”

The LaBiancas were slain on Aug. 10 – a day after the bodies of Miss Tate and the others were found in her Bel Air estate, five miles away.

Superior Court Judge Ben Koenig appointed Suzan Struthers, 21, Mrs. LaBianca’s daughter by a previous marriage, executor of the estate. An exact breakdown of Mrs. LaBianca’s estate was not revealed in open court.

Miss Struthers and her brother Frank, 15, are Mrs. LaBianca’s sole survivors, court records showed. The LaBiancas had no children.

That's it.  Really.  There is nothing more to this than a newspaper story - which was never followed up on - and so, because it was the only newspaper story, it survives in the online ether for 45 years and drives us 21st century internet bloggers batshit crazy wondering how an immigrant woman in 1969 with a modest dress shop, whose husband was officially in debt up to his you know what, could possibly be worth a couple of million buckaroos?  Especially, when like it says in the above report, that an EXACT BREAKDOWN WAS NOT REVEALED.

But really, it wasn't.  It was only ever an estimate, a hastily made one too, which was thrown together by Rosemary's daughter Suzan and her lawyer, and it included an estimate of  "community property" which Rosemary would have owned along with Leno, some of which she probably would have known about - like real estate and such - and some, she may not have known about, like ownership shares in a number of racehorses whose total value might have been worth ????

The LaBiancas apparently died without having a will in place.  And so, it looks like Suzan was the first to lawyer-up and get moving in order to claim her fair share for her and her brother... while Leno's family (some of whom were his business partners like his own mother) and his grown children from his first wife, were still asleep at the wheel, probably still reeling from the murders.  And so, on August 19, 1969, a mere nine days after the murders, her lawyers filed on her behalf a Petition for 'Special Letters of Administration.'  This document, and others, may be found on the Truth on Tate-LaBianca website and it really is fascinating reading too, but now, to the point:

Suzan's petition includes real property value and income as 'unknown' and only estimates personal property value and income at $60,000.  But it also includes this juicy tidbit:
"The deceased was murdered along with her husband, LENO LA BIANCA, and there are businesses owned and operated by both deceased, and race horses, which are, or may be, community property, joint property, or separate property, and which need immediate care, operation, and protection."

And furthermore it states: "There is insufficient time to give prior notice of this application to the persons interested in the estate and such notice should be waived."  Hmmmmmm.

So...
Was Suzan really just being a good daughter and itching to be named executor, because if not, then some horses may have starved to death? Or... was she just sharper than the rest and looking out for her and her brother's best interests?  Or what?

There is nothing in any of the other documents (that are dated later) that would indicate that Rosemary truly had anything worth $2 Million lying around.  And it appears, that her businesses may have been foreclosed upon eventually, as well.  So my guess, and yes it's only a guess (however it is a logical and plausible one, as it is based on a careful review of the documents available), is that the $2 Million figure came about because that's the estimate that Suzan and her lawyers arrived at, especially when the worth of Leno's stake in Gateway and Rosemary's boutique and dress shop may still have been unknown at the time.

Or perhaps, the clerk meant to type in $200,000?