Archive for March, 2017

The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster

March 16, 2017

Tony Spilotro was very popular with the ladies, as shown in the movie Casino. In fact, his many affairs cost him some difficult times with his wife Nancy. And one affair in particular, his involvement with Geri Rosenthal, contributed to his death.

The Mob frowned on its members and associates fooling around with the wives of other mobsters. Lefty Rosenthal was running Chicago’s Mob-controlled casinos that were generating millions of dollars for the Midwest bosses. Tony compounded that sin by letting news of the affair get into the newspapers, a definite no-no to an organization committed to flying below the radar. As Tony’s friend Frank Cullotta said about Tony, “When one head gets hard the other goes soft.”

You can read more about Tony and how his poor decisions contributed to the Mob losing control of Vegas in my new book, The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster, scheduled for  release on April 26, by WildBlue Press.

Las Vegas & the Mob

March 5, 2017

In the 1970s several organized crime families had illegal business interests in Sin City. The most powerful operation there was run by the Chicago Outfit. The main earner for the mobsters was known as the skim, which was simply the removal of large amounts of cash from the casinos before it was recorded as revenue and transporting it back to the Midwest crime bosses.

In 1971 the Outfit sent one of its most fearsome enforcers, Tony Spilotro, to Vegas to make sure everything ran smoothly and any problems that arose would be dealt with swiftly, using any means necessary. Tony was a good choice or so it seemed. But his Vegas reign was marked by his thirst for power, weakness for women, and poor decisions that eventually cost the Mob its control over Vegas.

The Spilotro was dramatized in the blockbuster 1995 movie Casino, in which Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony. The film received accolades for its accuracy. One of the reasons for its realism was that director Martin Scorsese hired a man named Frank Cullotta as his technical consultant. Frank and Tony had been friends and criminal associates since childhood, and Frank was Tony’s underboss in Vegas – he knew the whole story. As screenwriter Nick Pileggi said, “If not for Frank Cullotta there would have been no Casino.”

For nearly a year Frank and I worked on a book that tells the true story behind the movie, and provides details about several unsolved murders.

That book is currently at the publisher with a tentative release date of April 26. We are planning a kickoff in Vegas shortly after the release. I’ll post more details as they become available.