Who is Frank Cullotta?

cullotta-cover-web.jpgAs screenwriter Nick Pileggi says in the foreword to CULLOTTA, “Frank Cullotta is the real thing.”

Born in Chicago in 1938, Frank’s criminal career spanned over three decades. From approximately 1950 until 1982, he went from juvenile thief to master burglar, arsonist, armed robber, and killer. He spent his final three years as a bad guy in Las Vegas, where he served as the chief lieutenant to his childhood friend and the Chicago Outfit’s man in Sin City, Tony Spilotro.

In 1982, Frank and Spilotro had a falling out and a mob contract was issued on Frank’s life. Facing death at the hands of Outfit killers or a lengthy prison term on myriad charges, Frank flipped and became a government witness. His testimony over the next few years put several of his former associates behind bars.

After leaving the federal Witness Protection Program, Frank was contacted by Nick Pileggi regarding serving as a technical consultant during the production of the 1995 movie Casino. In the film actor Joe Pesci plays a part based on Tony Spilotro. Pesci’s main man, the character “Frankie,” is played by Frank Vincent and is based on Cullotta. In addition to his consultant duties, Cullotta appeared in several scenes as a mob hit man. And in one scene he recreated a murder he’d committed in real life.

Today he lives under a new identity and runs a successful small business. He also makes periodic appearances on TV organized crime documentaries.   

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