Popular and high-profile Detroit criminal defense attorney Richard Lustig, a master litigator and wheeler dealer in the courtroom who represented some of the Motor City’s most notorious felons in his near five decade lawyering career, died this past week at 73 years old, succumbing to complications from a recent stroke.

Lustig famously crafted favorable deals for legendary Detroit drug lord Milton (Butch) Jones and jailed mob associate Don Wells, who pointed authorities to a dig site in the government’s long, tireless quest to find the remains of slain labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa. He also was known for representing mega bookmaker and trusted Detroit mafia advisor Allen (The General) Hilf, one of the nation’s top underworld sports gambling specialists from the 1970s until his death of kidney failure in 2014.

Hilf and Lustig were often seen sitting together courtside at Detroit Pistons game sharing in their lifetime love of pro basketball. Lustig was in attendance at Hilf’s January 2014 funeral when “The General” was buried with a pair of dice in his hand. Reputed current Detroit mob don Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone, Hilf’s best friend, was a pallbearer.

According to FBI informants, Hilf fixed Pistons games during the franchise’s “Bad Boy Era” of the late 1980s and early 1990s where Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars led the team to repeat NBA championships (1989-90). Thomas was investigated for his alleged role in point shaving and illegal gambling activities as part of a federal probe into the Jewish Hilf and his Italian mob pals, even called in front of a grand jury in 1990, however, never charged with any wrongdoing. Hilf and Giacalone were indicted on racketeering and gambling charges in 1991.

Back in 1984, Lustig negotiated a surrender and sweetheart plea for Butch Jones, the self-proclaimed “Henry Ford of heroin,” and boss of the landmark Midwest narcotics gang, Young Boys, Incorporated (YBI), who had been on the run from the law for over a year hiding out in Arizona. YBI had transformed the local drug trade from their base on Detroit’s Westside. The majority of the organization was indicted in the fall of 1982. Jones, suspected of ordering the murders of YBI co-founders, Raymond (Baby Ray) Peoples and Dwayne (Wonderful Wayne) Davis, did just under eight years behind bars in the case.

Lustig got convicted drug dealer and mob associate Don Wells out of prison early in 2006 after Wells told the FBI he was staying at mafia enforcer and labor union goon Rolland (Big Mac) McMaster’s Hidden Dreams Ranch in suburban Detroit the day former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa went missing from a restaurant parking lot in the summer of 1975 just a few miles away and witnessed “suspicious activity” on the ranch late that evening. The FBI searched McMaster’s then-property and came up empty.

Hoffa was feuding with the mob at the time of his death regarding his desire to reclaim the Teamsters presidency following a prison term of his own for bribery, fraud and jury tampering. For years, the tall and imposing McMaster served as Hoffa’s main muscle in the union ranks.

Wells got busted for running a marijuana distribution ring in 2004, using cartage trucks to transport his product from Texas to Michigan. He was originally hit with a 10-year prison sentence prior to revealing his purported knowledge in the Hoffa case and Lustig using it as a proverbial get-out-jail-free card for his client.

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