Thomas B. Carney, a retired Internal Revenue Service executive, tax detective and casino security director, died Thursday of heart failure at St. Agnes Healthcare. He was 88 and lived in the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville.
After working nearly 25 years as an IRS administrator - he investigated people suspected of underreporting their taxes - he took over security operations for the Sands in Las Vegas, one of many casinos where he supervised a staff that detected card sharks and gambling improprieties.
Born in Baltimore and raised in a home on South Charles Street, he attended St. Mary's Star of the Sea Parochial School before graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1933. He earned a degree from Loyola College in 1937.
As a young man, he played basketball at the old Cross Street Market Hall - on a court one flight up from the seafood and vegetable stalls. He played on neighborhood teams and for his schools, where he won awards.
Friends said he never relinquished his affection for his South Baltimore roots.
During World War II, he was a lieutenant in the Navy and operated a landing craft at the battle of Okinawa. He remained active in the Naval Reserve and retired as a lieutenant commander.
He joined the Baltimore IRS office and worked in its intelligence division, eventually becoming its acting division chief. Family members said one of his first assignments was on the Eastern Shore, where he investigated people suspected by IRS auditors of underreporting their incomes. He organized raids on gambling parlors and lodges that lacked federal tax stamps for slot machines.
In February 1962, as part of a crackdown on organized crime led by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, he staged a raid on an Annapolis home where he and other agents found $8,000 stashed in a secret compartment in the kitchen masked by canned goods and utensils, in a clothes mangle and in a freezer.
"He had a tremendous personality, was a good speaker and a natural leader - he led many agents into successful careers," said William Jackson, a retired co-worker who lives in Towson. "He worked some of the biggest cases in the country. His secret was he knew how to handle people. He'd ask for six volunteers to go on a raid out in Western Maryland - and get 15 of us. He was a great personnel man."
In 1963, he was made coordinator of the agency's organized crime unit in Chicago, where he directed criminal intelligence in several Midwestern states. He retired from federal service as the staff assistant to the national director of the IRS criminal investigation division in Washington five years later.
Mr. Carney then began a second career as a vice president of Intertel - International Intelligence Inc. - a security firm that monitored gaming operations and corporate security.
For several years, he recruited a staff and ran security operations for Howard Hughes' Las Vegas hotels, including the Sands and Landmark. He later acted in the same capacity for Resorts International at Atlantic City, N.J., and at Paradise Island in the the Bahamas.
"He supervised our programs to defeat the card sharks," said Robert D. Peloquin, Intertel's retired owner and chairman. "He was a good judge of people and demanded you follow the minutiae."
Mr. Carney was also part of the security planning group that protected the Shah of Iran after he fled his throne and moved to Paradise Island for a stay beginning in 1979. Mr. Carney played tennis doubles with the shah, his son and another partner.
Mr. Carney, who also enjoyed golf and bridge, was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
A Mass was offered yesterday in Catonsville.
He is survived by the former Magdalen Harig, his wife of 65 years; three sons, David Carney of Ellicott City, Patrick Carney of Charlotte, N.C., and T. Kevin Carney of Brooklandville; a daughter, Eileen Martin of Vero Beach, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.