Jury finds D'Antonio guilty of Music Row murder

Friday, September 26, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A jury found Las Vegas pit boss Richard D'Antonio guilty Thursday of gunning down a music chart researcher about 15 years ago outside a Music Row recording studio.

D'Antonio, 56, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1989 shooting death of Kevin Hughes, 23, of Carmi, Ill., who had worked with him at Cash Box, a music industry trade magazine.

He also was found guilty of assault with intent to commit second-degree murder.

D'Antonio was sentenced to life on the murder conviction. He will be sentenced on the assault charge later.

The Davidson County jury deliberated for about seven hours before announcing the verdicts.

D'Antonio also was an associate of Chuck Dixon, a record promoter and former Cash Box magazine employee who died two years ago.

Dixon allegedly controlled access to the independent-artist country music singles chart at the magazine. He reportedly was angry at Hughes for trying to expose that promoters and artists had to pay him to get onto the charts. Witnesses said D'Antonio was sometimes the bag man for the scheme, collecting bribes ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 per single. Hughes' job involved calling radio stations to track airplay, figures the magazine used to help determine chart position.

After Hughes discovered Dixon's scam, he was planning to expose it, witnesses testified.

Back in the late '80s, music charts were still compiled by hand rather than by computer -- making it easier to falsify the results.

Industry insiders say some record promoters working mostly for small, independent labels would offer gifts to radio programmers in exchange for airplay, or they would bribe chart researchers to show the song was climbing the charts.

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