State v. Greg Chao and Toronto Mike

justiceThe Deputy District Attorney for Clark County in Las Vegas left me a voice mail and email yesterday regarding the State v. Greg Chao. He wanted to speak with me about a high profile trial starting up in Las Vegas this week. Greg Chao, a Canadian poker player, has been charged with murdering Donald Idiens, another Canadian poker player.

I've never heard of Greg Chao or Donald Idiens, I've never been to Las Vegas and I don't really play much poker. A little Googling quickly revealed how sensational a case this is. Here's an article about the case from

Chao is charged with robbery and murder with a deadly weapon in the brutal slaying of fellow Canadian and avid poker player Donald Idiens, 53, on the night of December 8, 1997.

Prosecutors say Chao went to Vegas on a desperate bid to win enough money to pay back Canadian loan sharks, to whom he owed tens of thousands of dollars. Chao borrowed $1,000 from Idiens, lured him back to his hotel room to ask for more, then killed the land developer for his bankroll when he refused to lend any more money, prosecutors have said.

Idiens' battered and nearly naked body was found in a stairwell one floor below room 18136, where Chao was staying. Police also found Idiens' blood in the room.

A DNA analyst said Monday that a blood sample taken from a strip of carpet was identified as belonging to Idiens. The chance of the sample coming from someone else, a police DNA analyst told jurors, is 1 in 600 billion.

Chao's public defender, Timothy O'Brien, has said that his client merely lent Idiens his hotel room for a meeting with the person or persons who must have killed him. When Chao returned to his room, O'Brien claims, nothing was astray, save for some liquor bottles on a dresser.

Why did the DA want to talk with me? How could I possibly be connected to this 1997 crime? All day yesterday I was trying to figure out where I fit in.

I just heard back from the Deputy District Attorney and it turns out the case has a reference to "Toronto Mike". They have questions for Toronto Mike, and in a desperate attempt to find Toronto Mike they Googled the name, found and took a shot in the dark.

They're now pretty sure they're looking for a different Toronto Mike, and I'm positive they are. The 1997 Toronto Mike was a pretty good poker player. At the time, my game was euchre.

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Comments (6 - click here to join in!)


That is an anxiety provoking but cool story....almost Soprano-ish.

May 21, 2007 @ 9:02 PM

Toronto Mike

I got the call and email before The Sopranos last night, and while I watched I was trying to imagine how I could be relevant to the case.

I started wondering if I had pulled a Tony and tried peyote in Vegas back in '97, which would explain why I didn't remember a thing.

May 21, 2007 @ 9:07 PM

Toronto Mike

This story hasn't gone away. The defence contacted me, because I'm on the witness list.

They do know I'm the wrong Toronto Mike, right?

May 23, 2007 @ 8:46 PM

Bob Idiens

As you may guess by my last name, I'm Don's youngest son. In case you don't already know, Greg Chao was convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. My mom was at the trial, and said something about the possibility of him applying to serve his sentence in Canada. If this went through, Canada's life sentence comes with chance of parole after 20 years. Since he's already served 9 years (7 while waiting to be extradited and another 2 awaiting trial) he would be elligible for parole in just 11 years. Here's for hoping he rots in prison for the rest of his life, after which he can rot in hell.

June 22, 2007 @ 1:59 AM

Toronto Mike

Hi Bob,

I'm sorry for your loss. Hopefully there's a little comfort in the fact justice has prevailed here.

June 22, 2007 @ 8:54 AM

Dawn McQuinn


I knew Don all too well. I know Bob, although he was young. It was a shock and horror to hear this on the news at the time it happened. I agree with BOB (who was named after my Dad ) wholeheartedly that this little Cho bastart ought to rot in hell for what he did to Don. Albeit, the only hell is here on earth when things like that happen. Whatever happens to him, he's failed life big time and it'll come back to him one way or another. He killed a man who was skilled and talented in his community and a father of five children...the loss was horrifying.

Hang in there Bob and family, hugs to your Mom :) .....and thanks for sharing the story Mike:)

November 30, 2007 @ 12:57 AM

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