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September 15, 2011
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Oprah given exclusive access to Tahoe safe opening

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - A hidden safe that was discovered during the renovation of the former Bill's Lake Tahoe Casino building last month has been opened, but the Oprah Winfrey Network has the right to release what was found.

A Douglas County Sheriff's Office investigator was present at the opening of the safe Wednesday, but did not find anything relevant to an investigation, wrote Sgt. Jim Halsey in an e-mail.

"Nothing of substance for us inside, and the contents are being kept a secret until the Oprah Winfrey show airs in a month or so," Halsey wrote.

The footage of the safe being opened will be used for a television show that is in development, said Oprah Winfrey Network spokeswoman Chelsea Hettrick. It's unknown when the footage or the show will air.

The building's owner, Mike Laub, had speculated the safe could have connections to Richard L. Chartrand, the one-time owner of Barney's Casino.

Barney's Casino occupied the building where the safe was found from 1960 to 1987. Chartrand was killed by a car bomb outside his Skyland neighborhood home in 1968.

The safe had a broken handle and several locksmiths were unable to gain access, Laub said during previous conversations.

The Oprah Winfrey Network had offered to bring a locksmith to the area to open the safe, Laub said.

Despite repeated assurances by Laub that a Tribune reporter would be invited to be present at the safe's opening, the Tribune was not notified of Wednesday's opening.

Laub did not return a request for comment Thursday.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 16, 2011 09:47PM Published Sep 15, 2011 03:17PM Copyright 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.