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Legendary Austin Crime Story Launches Fuller Circle Series

In the Headliners Club high atop the Chase Tower in downtown Austin, guests gathered on Oct.4, 2022 for AHCA’s inaugural Fuller Circle Event, featuring Austin author, artist, and musician Jesse Sublett, who shared stories about his book, The Last Gangster in Austin: Frank Smith, Ronnie Earle and the End of a Junkyard Mafia.

Event co-chairs, Linda McCoy and Jeffrey Dochen, kicked things off, with McCoy explaining that the name of the event series, Fuller Circle, serves as a double entendre. Besides referring to an engaging, shared experience, Fuller Circle also honors founding father Stephen F. Austin, whose middle initial - F - stood for Fuller.

When Sublett took his turn at the mic, he did not disappoint. He wove together a tale about longtime Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, and how he managed to “take down”

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle

the last gangster in Austin, Frank Smith. Earle, who served as district attorney for just over three decades, maintained that the Smith case, which came up in his first year as DA, was the biggest case of his career, quite a claim when you consider that Earle went on to prosecute corporate executives, politically powerful local and state elected officials, and even U.S. Representative Tom Delay.

Sublett told the Fuller Circle crowd how Frank Smith spent the 1970s building a criminal empire in the auto salvage and bail bonds industries. When Ike Rabb’s auto-salvage business threatened Smith’s continued success, Smith hired arsonists to burn Rabb’s salvage yard.

They botched the job. Undeterred, Smith paid a large sum of cash to Rabb for several cars and hired three gunmen to steal the money back. That didn’t go well either – resulting in the death of one of the gunmen. Sublett took the Fuller Circle on the crazy ride to the eventual conviction of Frank Smith – The Last Gangster in Austin.

“It was such a pleasure to have Ike Rabb and his son Geoff in the audience, among so many other notable members,” said McCoy. “Twila Earle, wife of the late Ronnie Earle, joined us along with their daughter, the Honorable Judge Elisabeth Earle and her husband, Jeffrey Clark. Bill Cryer, who wrote the original Austin-American Statesman article that inspired the book, attended along with his wife, Cynthia. It was such a thrill to have so many people from the book in the audience!”

“Jesse Sublett is a talented author, musician, and painter,” said Dochen. “He brought along one of his wonderful paintings entitled “Heist Car: 1975 Black Over Yellow Ford LTD.” The painting depicts some of the key elements in the book. The story came to a Fuller Circle when Ike Rabb purchased the painting at the luncheon!”

Dochen and McCoy encourage AHCA members who attend Fuller Circle events to invite a non-member guest who is interested in joining AHCA.

~Our AHCA Circle is FULLER With YOU in it~

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