Henry “Cab” Tice is a person of interest in the murders of Byrd “Bud” Billings and his wife Melanie on July 9, 2009 in Beulah, Florida. Stories have floated that Cab Tice was loaned money from an employee, and the money came from the Mexican Mafia. The Billings triggerman mentioned a “contract hit,” and the nortorious M-13. The Billings’ son mentioned his dad selling cars with Tice in Mexico and contract hit from a gang in Colorado.
A report out today perhaps puts the Cab-Tice-Mafia-talk to rest, but the Sheriff’s Department has not issued a confirming statement. The employee, Silvano Gonzalez, said he told Tice the loan money was Mafia money, so
that Tice would be afraid not to pay him back. Silvano said the loan
was from his own personal bank account and he has the paperwork to
Tice originally told authorities Silvano borrowed the loan money from his cousins in Atlanta who were in the Mexican restaurant business and were “members of the Mexican Mafia.”
Tice said the man told him that the mafia members “won’t kill you, but
they’ll kill your family and we’ve got to get them this money.”
Also, Tice said, the employee told Byrd Billings and Tice’s ex-wife
that Tice was in debt to the Mexican mafia in an effort to get those
people to reinforce to Tice that he needed to pay back the money.
“Bud said, you know, ‘I can’t believe you got in such a bind you
borrowed money from the Mexican mafia and you know how dangerous these
people are and you know what they’ll do,’ ” Tice said.
The Billings’ son, Justin Billings, raised the specter of a contract hit, and possible Mexican connections the day after the murders. He told authorities he thought his parents’ murderers were contract killings and he implicated a “gang” from Colorado.
“One of my friends from Colorado. He has, he
has a rat that’s part of a gang,” Justin told investigators. “He said
there was a hit in Florida that fit the description that I gave him.
Then Justin told investigators that he thought Henry Cab Tice had reason to want his father dead. He said Tice sold cars “down in Mexico” with Bud Billings. Then a strange twist, Patrick Gonzalez told authorities he and Justin had worked at car lots together, and “done jobs together” for dealers. He thought Justin Billings held a grudge against him.
Further complicating matters, one of Byrd Billings’ sons told
police that he was present during a heated argument between Billings
and Tice, in which Tice accused Billings of “double-crossing” him. Tice
vehemently and publicly denied any untoward involvement in the Billings
case, saying that while there were business people who had been upset
with Billings, and that he openly “hated” Bud Billings, “nobody I know
would want to see Bud Billings killed.”
Triggerman, Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. ties the Billings with MS-13:
The report says “Patrick was very candid and animated in his behavior,”
and then indicated that another car dealer, Sanchez, was also involved
and said Chavers and Bagget [investigators] should look “at MS-13’s involvement in the
It appears that he was linking Sanchez and MS-13, but that is not
completely clear in this report. He said MS-13 was very upset with Bud
Billings and the way he had treated them. The exact wording from the investigator: The report says:
Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. then clearly indicated that there were some MS-13 ties to the Billings situation.
From today’s report from Pensacola News Journal linked in the second paragraph:
Gonzalez Jr. said during a July 11 interview with Guy that it was
rumored that Billings had business acquaintances with Mexican people in
Alabama and laundered money for Mexican gangsters.
Gonzalez Jr.’s 56-year-old father — co-defendant Leonard Patrick
Gonzalez Sr. — said that his son told him that Byrd Billings had been
laundering money for years.”He
had no way to get rid of it,” Gonzalez Sr. said in a July 13 interview.
“He was stockpiling it — $17 million or more — in that safe room. And I
still believe it’s there.”
The safe actually contained $164,000.
The old news, of course, is that Gonzalez originally said that Cab Tice asked him to “whack” Bud Billings more than once, and Gonzalez refused. He said Tice told him numerous car dealers in the area were unhappy with Billings.
Gonzalez made a comment to investigators that seemed to indicate that he had done some jobs (possibly “hits”) in the past, and another used auto dealer in the Pensacola area, Mark Turner, believes Patrick Gonzalez tried to break into his home and kill him in December 2007. Turner believes it was a contract hit. If you are interested in the Turner story, look to the top right side of this blog page, right under the Maggie’s Notebook banner, and you will see three links to get to the Turner story.
Tice told authorities he had a “father-son” relationship with Patrick Poff Gonzalez. Patrick’s wife, Tabatha told authorities that Leonard Gonzalez, Patrick’s father, introduced his son to Cab Tice and Tice had loaned her family money.
Cab Tice owed thousands of dollars to Bud Billings – perhaps as much as $10,000. Billings filed a civil lawsuit against Tice before his death. Many dealers and salesmen bought and sold from each other. Often, cars were taken from one car lot without being paid for. Once a sale was made, the original car lot owner would be paid – unless, maybe not.
Once you know a little bit about how the used auto business works in Pensacola, you have to ask if Cab Tice “borrowed” cars from Bud Billings and did not pay for them. Or, if rumors are true, and Tice actually worked for Billings, did Tice “borrow” cars from other dealers in the area with Billings guaranteeing the debt? If Tice didn’t pay Billings, was Billings on the line for Tice’s debt?
Cab Tice owned Hispanic American Auto and Silvano Gonzalez, the employee who loaned the $20,000 to Tice, was a salesman there. Hispanic American Auto failed and closed. Silvano Gonzalez and Patrick Gonzalez are not related.
Henry “Cab” Tice remains a person of interest in the Billings’ murders. The Grand Theft charges pending, according to the warrant before Billings died, are for writing twelve non-sufficient-funds checks to Worldco [Bud Billings’ company] in the amount of $17, 342.51. Money as well as “vehicles consigned” to Tice and Hispanic American Auto Sales make up the charges. Tice is out on bail.
Background and related: