Ottawa Citizen

U.S. man bound, gagged, shot himself to fake murder

Potato chip heir’s death was a suicide, police and coroner conclude


The heir to an Alabama potato chip fortune, who was found floating in a golf course pond after being bound, gagged and shot in the head, disguised his suicide as murder, police say.

Major Bashinsky, 63, was discovered with a threatenin­g note attached to his body and a label from a bag of Golden Flake chips, the brand owned by his family, stuffed in his mouth.

The day after he vanished on March 3, a letter arrived at the family company’s headquarte­rs accusing it of “vampire” business practices.

Police investigat­ed whether he was the victim of a killer with a grudge against the business, whose chips have been sold across the southern United States for generation­s. But detectives and a coroner concluded that Bashinsky had loosely tied his own hands and taped his mouth before wading into the pond at the Highland Park Golf Course in Birmingham, Alabama, where he shot himself. The gun was found in the pond. “Now we know how he did it but we haven’t quite figured it out why,” said Sgt. Johnny Williams, a spokesman for the Birmingham police department.

Golden Flake was founded in 1946 by Bashinsky’s grandfathe­r, Leo, and his father, Sloan.

The company employs 800 workers and its products are ubiquitous on grocery shelves in Alabama and 10 other states. It had net sales of $122 million last year.

Bashinsky was a tax lawyer and did not have any operationa­l role in the family company.

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