Posts Tagged ‘mafia’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2017

Former Chicago Outfit Mobster Implicates Tony Spilotro in Numerous Unsolved Murders

DENVER, May 28, 2017:

“…There are probably more killings I don’t know about,” wrote former Chicago Outfit hitman Frank Cullotta in his new book The Rise and Fall of a ‘Casino’ Mobster. The killer he referenced was Tony Spilotro, one of the Outfit’s most notorious enforcers.

Cullotta’s book implicates Spilotro in over twenty murders—most of them still thought of as usnolved. But in Cullotta’s mind, Spilotro was the clear culprit.

One of the murders Cullotta attributed to Spilotro is former Chicago police officer Richard Cain. In his book, Cullotta wrote:

Some called him [Cain] the most corrupt cop in Chicago history because he was also a hit man for the Outfit… In late December 1973, while I was locked up in the federal prison in Terre Haute, the story broke that Cain was murdered in Chicago on December 20 in Rosie’s Sandwich Shop at 1117 West Grand Avenue. Reports were that three masked gunmen entered Rosie’s and shot him twice in the head with a shotgun at close range, virtually decapitating him.

During one of the many conversations I had with Tony after I got out of prison in 1974, Cain’s murder came up. Tony said, “You were in jail with him weren’t you?”

“Yeah, we were in Cook County together for a while. Why?”

“What did that jackoff have to say?”

“Not much, Tony. He was a real quiet guy, but I knew he was tight with Giancana [Outfit Boss] and Willie Potatoes [Outfit big shot William Daddano]. I had a connection with the deputy warden and got him to give Cain extra visits with his wife, and we teased him about the bathrobe he always wore. Other than that, I don’t remember much about him.”

Tony laughed. “Me, the Little Guy, and the German [Frankie Schweihs] whacked him.”

I was surprised he said it like that, kind of a boast. It made sense, though. As I said, Tony came to my mind as one of the hitters as soon as I heard about the murder. I assumed the “Little Guy” Tony mentioned was Saint. He and Tony did a lot of things together, and Saint was the only guy Tony worked with who was shorter than he was.

Was Tony just blowing smoke that day for some reason?

My money is on he was telling the truth.

“Oftentimes mob hits go unsolved because no one’s willing to talk,” said WildBlue Press co-owner and New York Times bestselling author Steve Jackson. “But Cullotta is done covering for Spilotro, for Giancana, for all those guys. The book truly exposes one of Chicago’s most dangerous eras.”

The Rise and Fall of a ‘Casino’ Mobster is now available from WildBlue Press. Promotions for the book will take place in Chicago this summer. To arrange an interview with the author, please contact WildBlue Press at Promos@WildBluePress.com.

Frank Cullotta is a former enforcer for the Chicago Outfit. He is now an author and has been involved in making documentaries. In 2012, he was inducted into the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.

Dennis N. Griffin is an award winning true crime author, focusing on organized crime in Las Vegas and the Tony Spilotro era in particular. His books have been the basis for multiple organized crime documentaries, and he has frequently been a featured speaker at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library’s Mob Month.

Contact:

Michael Cordova

promos@wildbluepress.com

(303) 744-2178

Note: Review copies of this book are available by emailing promos@wildbluepress.com. Interviews can also be arranged with the authors. Please include your mailing address and note the web address where you post your reviews/interviews. Thank you.

 

 

 

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Meeting Frank Cullotta

May 25, 2017

CasinoMobster_KindleCover_4-6-2017_v1-200x315

Jim Cooley describes meeting Frank Cullotta
Meeting Frank
I sat with my head on a pivot and my heart in my chest. It was early for me as I was up late the night before announcing an MMA event in this amazingly over-the-top town, Las Vegas. I was not sure what to expect or how to act. What do I say to him? What will he ask me? My friends had made the usual sarcastic comments upon hearing of who I was meeting. Things like, “Don’t go to his car with him,” and “Don’t make him angry.” I laughed and smiled, but it did get me thinking. Of course they were only joking and he was not going to kill me. Yet, I still had no idea what to expect.
My line of work brings me into contact with some very famous people. I have enjoyed a casual cocktail with people like Mike Tyson and interviewed A-list celebrities including actors, athletes and musicians on numerous occasions. Having traveled all over the United States while announcing in front of huge raucous crowds, I have come into contact with people from every walk of life. It has given me a unique perspective on people and left me almost numb when in the face of fame and celebrity, as a result I rarely get nervous or flustered in any situation. I consider myself cool and collected and a bit of a chameleon. I can attend an event with outlaw bikers at their clubhouse in the afternoon and in the evening go to a black tie affair with someone like Evander Holyfield. From a t-shirt and jeans to a suit and tie, I am thoroughly comfortable around any person from any culture.
I found out very quickly though, that nothing had prepared me for this day. This was not breakfast with a celebrated athlete or a first meeting with a well-known actor. This was a meal with an admitted killer. A sit down, so to speak, with a real-life Mafioso.
I was sitting in a half circle booth waiting for the gangster who once ran Vegas. The man who stood up and did not back down from the very Mob he was part of when his life was on the line. The restaurant was a who’s who of Vegas stereotypes. There were the locals who looked like they could have eaten in this place every day, the ones who smoke cigarette after cigarette and sit in front of a video poker machine with dreams of wealth. There were tourists who were taking in the scenery of this storied restaurant while having their photos taken by the staff. There were the twenty something weekend warriors who had clearly had a bit too much to drink the night before and were hoping to find solace and headache relief in mimosas and scrambled eggs. Perhaps they had received their hangover from the bar in this very building. The one that was recognizable to anyone who has seen the movie Casino. This was the Peppermill in Las Vegas and I was here to meet him.
To say I was nervous would be a serious understatement. Truth be told, I was more nervous than I can ever recall being at any time when meeting another human being. However, that is exactly what I had to remind myself of, this is a human being, a man just like me. His past is just that, his past. The difference was this was a man I had studied; a man I had wanted to meet for some time. This was a man whose books had intrigued me and left me wanting more of the story. As I pondered all of this in my head I happened to look up and I saw a figure making his way toward the booth. He was graying but somehow still seemed young and spry. A shorter than average man who obviously had lived his life to the fullest, yet he was still stout and solid. At 78 years old you would assume he was past his prime, but upon seeing him I was not sure that was true. On any other day I would say this was merely an older gentleman who happened to be a snappy dresser. However, this gentleman was different. Once known for being a feared fighter, a stone killer and a master thief who had connections to the storied Chicago Outfit. Best friend and cohort of famed Mob enforcer Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. I had seen this man’s life play out on the silver screen. I had read of his experiences in books and been amazed at the life he had lived. This however, was no book, nor movie, this was real life.
As he approached the table I stood up to greet him. Keep in mind I am six foot two inches tall and weigh 240 pounds. As an ex bouncer and mixed martial artist I do not rattle easily. But at this moment none of that mattered. I was scared. I was intimidated. This man was probably 7 or 8 inches shorter than me and 32 years my senior. Yet I was close to puking from nerves. Just as I felt I was going to stumble over my words and come off like a blundering idiot fan boy, Frank Cullotta reached out his hand and said “You must be Jim.” His smile and demeanor were very disarming. All of the sudden I was comfortable. I was relaxed as we sat for our meal. I had been worried over nothing. This was not the 70s or the 80s, this was 2016 and Frank Cullotta was a different person. A Las Vegas Mob Tour guide and an author with a family and a contagious smile.
Over the next couple of hours, we shared stories and he told me things I never knew about the Chicago Outfit, his life and the mafia in general. I was enthralled. Not only was I sharing a meal with the former “Boss of Vegas,” but very quickly I realized something. This man was an encyclopedia of organized crime. In addition to living it and being there he also had clearly studied and in the process become one of the most knowledgeable people I had ever come across on his chosen subject. I have heard the so called “Experts” speak and have learned what I could from them. But it is apples and oranges between these guys and Frank.
My belief has always been that reading a book written by an expert on a subject is the quickest way to gain facts. However, reading a book written by someone who lived the material is life- changing and the quickest way to feel the history. In this case, when you read a Frank Cullotta book you have the unusual advantage of being treated to both. A man who lived it and is also an expert on the topic. This is the reason I maintain that reading a Frank Cullotta book is a must for any mafia fan (for lack of a better term), true crime buff or those just intrigued by biographies and history. This man doesn’t just write about history he is a living piece of history and is an expert at sharing it in the most creative and engaging ways. I left that day feeling like I had been one of the luckiest people alive. I had the opportunity to break bread with and learn about one of the most interesting figures alive today.
In the past year I have become friends with Frank and I consider him to be one of the most genuine and honest men I have ever met. He has given me life advice, shared with me things he has not to my knowledge even written in his various books. Hell, the guy even flirted with my mother right in front of me! It was tongue in cheek and I took it as such, but that is Frank You never know what you will get. He is all at once funny, intriguing and real. So if this is not your first Cullotta authored book then you know what to expect, unbelievable stories, amazing insight into the world of organized crime and the history of both Chicago and Las Vegas all rolled into one. Comedy mixed in with heart pounding drama and a historical account of when organized crime ruled the United States.
In his new book, The Rise And Fall Of A ‘Casino’ Mobster, Frank tells his the inside story of Tony Spilotro and the days when they ran Las Vegas. In the process he names the killers in many murders that are currently listed as unsolved. So get the book and sit back and enjoy as you delve into the mind of a gentleman, a family man, a thief, a killer, and a man who today has nothing to hide.
Jim Cooley “The Voice Of Champions”
VOC NETWORK
(925) 389-0138
www,lastroundpod.com

 

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.

The Rise and Fall of Tony Spilotro

January 26, 2017

The manuscript is currently undergoing Phase I editing with the publisher. There will be two more phases of editing followed by formatting and cover design. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to get on the production schedule by spring.

cruise-mobster

Denny Griffin, true crime author

 

 

Teflon Tony

October 10, 2007

battle.jpgExcerpted from The Battle for Las Vegas – The Law vs. the Mob 

Teflon Tony 

John Gotti, the infamous former head of New York City’s Gambino crime family, was dubbed the Teflon Don for his ability to gain acquittals whenever the law took him to court. In fact, from the time he ascended to the throne in 1985 until his conviction in 1992 for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Gotti and his lawyers had made a habit out of beating up on prosecutors. But Gotti had been convicted and served time while he was making his way up the career ladder. And the sentence for his only conviction while he was the boss was a beauty: life without the possibility of parole.

Although Tony Spilotro never officially attained “Don” status, the attention he received from the law was nearly the same as that bestowed on higher-ranking mobsters. In spite of being almost continuously under investigation, and a suspect in some 25 murders and countless other felonies, Tony conducted his affairs for more than a decade without being convicted of even a minor offense. Part of the reason for that impressive run could be his skills as a criminal; another likely factor was that his reputation and willingness to use violence made witnesses against him scarce. A third and equally important aspect was his lawyer, Oscar Goodman.      

Goodman was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After moving to Las Vegas in 1964, he opened his own law practice. It wasn’t long before he became one of the city’s premier criminal defense attorneys, representing many high-profile clients. Among them were Harry Claiborne, a federal judge who was convicted of tax evasion in 1983 and impeached by the United States Senate, Allen Glick and his Argent Corporation, Lefty Rosenthal, and Tony Spilotro.

Goodman was a fiery advocate for his clients and he wasn’t shy about attacking his law-enforcement foes, both in and out of court. In Of Rats and Men, author John L. Smith chronicles the life and career of Oscar Goodman. At the beginning of that book are quotes from several people, including two from Goodman that may illustrate his attitude toward his opponents and the existence of organized crime. “I’d rather have my daughter date Tony Spilotro than an FBI agent,” and “There is no mob.”

Whether these words accurately reflected Mr. Goodman’s feelings or were only issued for public consumption, one can imagine that Tony, Allen, and Lefty appreciated hearing their legal representative say such things. But Goodman wasn’t merely rhetoric; he produced for those who placed their trust in him.

Together, Tony and Oscar, each using his own unique talents, made a team that prosecutors seemed unable to beat.

Brother Against Brother

September 30, 2007

cullotta-cover-web.jpgTurmoil within the Chicago Outfit was exposed through the testimony of admitted mob hit man Nick Calabrese at the Operation Family Secrets trial in Chicago. Nick testified as a prosecution witness against his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr.

You can read the details in the Sun-Times article at:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/mob/476766,CST-NWS-mob20.article

The Outfit Gets Whacked Again

September 28, 2007

A Chicago jury has assigned responsibility for 10 old gangland murders to three aging mobsters. The latest findings mean the trio, who were convicted of racketeering charges on September 10, will more than likely never be free men again.

See the Sun-Times article at the link below for the complete story. 

http://www.suntimes.com/news/mob/578915,cst-nws-mob28.article

Who is Frank Cullotta?

September 28, 2007

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.   

How did the Spilotro brothers die?

September 27, 2007

cullotta-cover-web.jpgOne of the more memorable scenes in the 1995 movie Casino depicted the character based on Tony Spilotro (played by actor Joe Pesci) and his brother being beaten to death in a cornfield.

The actual killings of Tony and Michael took place in June 1986. After their bodies were found in an Indiana cornfield, there was some speculation that the two had been buried while still alive.

However, testimony given by various witnesses in the Operation Family Secrets trial in Chicago – including a forensic pathologist and a former Outfit hit man – show that the real murders didn’t occur exactly as shown on the big screen.

Below is part of an article that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on August 1, highlighting that testimony.

August 1, 2007

BY STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporter

A forensic pathologist who took part in the autopsies of mobsters Anthony and Michael Spilotro gave testimony on Wednesday that upended the Hollywood version of their deaths, which had the men beaten to death with bats and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield.

Dr. John Pless said at the Family Secrets trial that there was no evidence that the men had been buried alive. The grisly detail was popularized in the 1995 mob movie, “Casino.”

Pless said the injuries the men received were more likely from fists than bats.

Pless riveted jurors with a detailed list of the injuries both men received.

The Spilotros both died from multiple blunt trauma injuries and from having their lungs or airways so filled with blood from their wounds that they couldn’t breathe, according to Pless’ testimony.

The men had been lured to the basement of a Bensenville area home in June 1986 after a mob hit squad had unsuccessfully tried to kill Anthony Spilotro in Las Vegas, according to earlier trial testimony.

Spilotro had tried to blow up a mob associate without Outfit permission, had slept with that associate’s wife and had committed unauthorized murders, according to evidence at trial.

Mob officials lured the men to the basement on the promise that Tony Spilotro was to be promoted to a capo position in the mob, and Michael Spilotro was to be a “made” member of the Outfit.

Instead, a dozen killers were waiting for the men in the basement and jumped them as they came down.

Earlier in the trial, Outfit killer Nicholas Calabrese, who is testifying for the government, described his own role in the murders.

Calabrese testified he held Michael Spilotro while another man strangled him. Calabrese said he did not get a good look at how Anthony Spilotro was killed.

The forensic pathologist testified that he found abrasions around the neck of Michael Spilotro that could have come from a rope, but noted that the corpses had decomposed after being buried for at least a week in the cornfield, and it was difficult to find markings.

The attorney for reputed mob boss James Marcello jumped on the lack of clear strangulation marks.

Defense lawyer Thomas Breen hammered home that point to the jury and will likely use it to bolster his argument that Nicholas Calabrese wasn’t even at the Spilotro murders and made up his account of them.

Calabrese’s testimony is important to Marcello because Calabrese contends Marcello took part in the murders by driving him and other killers to the Bensenville area home.

Review of CULLOTTA

September 26, 2007

cullotta-cover-web.jpg This review appeared on The Literary World site on July 17 2007.

NOTES

                            
July 17:
Jim Agnew On Crime
Cullotta–The Life Of A Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness (Huntington Press Publishing)
This is the best book written on the Chicago crime syndicate and I’ve read them all. Virgil Petersen summed up the Chicago crime syndicate in the title of his 1950’s book…”Barbarians In Our Midst”.
It’s the best book because its all first person, gloves off and very rough.
Frank Cullotta was a very active…bomber, killer, master burglar, fence, and criminal confidant to the mob lords of Chicago and Las Vegas. He describes these roles and capers as they happened with lots of play-by-play details.
Cullotta also describes real prison life and the Witness Protection Program…up close and personal.
I read Cullotta in one afternoon and so will any true-crime fan. Its just a real-good read about very dangerous professional criminals.