Notorious Poker Player Jimmy Chagra Dead At 63

Jamiel Alexander “Jimmy” Chagra, notorious drug runner, fanciful poker player and suspect in a 1979 federal judge assassination, has lost his battle with cancer. Battling the disease since November, Jimmy’s sister Patsy Chagra said he passed away on Friday, August 19, 2008. He was 63 years old.

Jimmy Chagra led a tarnished existence, a known drug runner throughout most of his life. Much of the money he acquired from his unsavory dealings was lost at the poker tables in Las Vegas. A recreational gambler with a flair for the more expensive tables, Chagra lost uncountable amounts to professional poker players like Doyle Brunson and the late Chip Reese.

In 1978, Chagra was accused of leading an assassination attempt on against Assistant US Attorney James Kerr. Jimmy plead guilty to the charges and was sentences to life behind bars by federal judge John Wood Jr., known as “Maximum John” for his harsh penalization of known drug felons.

Chagra then masterminded another assassination attempt, this time on Judge Wood, who was shot and killed May 29, 1978. Chagra’s third wife, Elizabeth, was convicted for conveying the $250,000 to the hit-man hired to shoot the US District Judge. The hit-man in the case was Charles Harrelson, father of esteemed actor Woody Harrelson.

Three months later, Chagra’s sentence was handed down for disrupting the investigation of Wood’s murder, though the conspiracy charges had been dropped. He then spent 6 months on the run from authorities before being captured by the Drug Enforcement Administration in February of 1980.

Chagra was sentenced to 30 years in prison for instigating an international drug-smuggling scheme, but due to health issues, was released in 2003. According to a report from the El Paso Times, Jimmy Chagra was believed to have been placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

An El Paso reporter stated that he had been trying to write a book about Jamiel Alexander “Jimmy” Chagra, but halted the work when his subject failed to cooperate. The reporter says Chagra was living by the alias “James Madrid”, residing in a trailer camp in Mesa, Arizona.

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