Mobbed Up: The Fight for Las Vegas

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BONUS: Mobbed Up (Almost) Live

by Las Vegas Review-Journal | The Mob Museum
August 7th 2020

This week, Mobbed Up host Reed Redmond and Mob Museum VP of Exhibits of Programs Geoff Schumacher hosted 'Mobbed Up Live,' which aired on the Las Vegas Review-Journal website and Facebook page. The... More

Mm. Hello, everyone read here. I'm back. I know we've already released the final episode of the series, but I'm coming to you with a little more mobbed up. This past week, the mom museums Jeff Schumacher and I hosted a live virtual event. We brought up a couple panels with some of the voices you've heard throughout this series and aired a follow up interview I conducted with Senator Harry Reid. Now we know everyone wasn't able to tune in live, so we've decided to release the audio of the event as a bonus episode. So if the rest of this sounds a little different from our other episodes, well, keep in mind that it's pulled from Facebook live stream. Not to mention that we were all wearing masks and social distancing throughout the event. If you prefer to watch the event, you can head over to review journal dot com or go to the Las Vegas Review Journal Facebook Page. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next hour, give or take, we will be exploring the history of the mob in Las Vegas and taking you inside mobbed up the fight for Las Vegas and 11 part podcast series from the Las Vegas Review Journal and the Mob Museum.

I am the host of that podcast. Read Redmond, and I'm joined by my museum Vice president of exhibits and programs, Jeff Schumacher. We are coming to you live from inside the mob museum, and Jeff, before we bring out our first guest of the evening. Can you tell us a little bit about the room that we're sitting in? Absolutely. Um, so we're in the in the courtroom on the second floor of the Mob Museum. Of course, the museum is located in a historic building was the first federal courthouse and post office in Las Vegas, opened in 1933 and this courtroom has been restored to its original glory. And so this is really one of the centerpieces of the museum. And anyone who's watching this that's been to the museum knows that it is much more than just this one room. Can you walk us through a couple exhibits that you find most fascinating? Or maybe visitors tend to find the most fascinating? Sure. So, you know, um, we have four floors of exhibits, so it's just a lot to see here. Uh, you know, I could maybe mention a couple like one of our oldest exhibits is our ST Valentine's Day massacre wall.

We have the bricks from the wall against which the victims of the ST Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago in 1929 were shot dead and those bricks were preserved. And now we have them on display here on the third floor. Um, fast forward to the 21st century. Now we have a brand new exhibit called Rise of the Cartels And then that that we focus on the rise of the international drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. And we have some great artifacts to accompany that as well. So we're gonna be taking some listener questions throughout the live stream. The first couple are for us. For the first question came Todd, K and Eric are both had more or less the same question they wrote in to ask how the podcast mobbed up came about and how much time and effort went into it. I don't want to say we were first kicking around the idea roughly a year ago, Um, and we got into production about last fall, and it launched this past May so It was a good 89 month production, and just a ton of work went into it from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Aside from the mob museum side. As for me, I started with the Las Vegas Review Journal read around a year ago, and I was looking at the history of the city.

When you look at the history of Las Vegas, the thing that stands out is the mob. And you know the city wouldn't look the way it does today if not for the involvement of organized crime. And I quickly realized that that nobody had ever done a podcast specifically about the mob in Las Vegas. And so I just said, You know, let's let's find a way to tell that story. That's when we reached out to you all here at the Mob Museum, and we're able to work out a partnership from the museum standpoint. Why were you all excited to get involved in a project like this? Well, I'll tell you, the podcast format is so great for telling this kind of a story because you can get into great depth by interviewing subjects. Uh, you know, there's people who are still you know, as we'll see tonight, there's people who are are very much alive, who remember that era in Las Vegas and have tremendous stories to tell. And the podcast format just feels right for talking about these sort of both nostalgic and poignant stories about that time in Las Vegas. Absolutely. And before we bring out our first panellists, we're gonna roll a clip from the podcast for anyone out there who hasn't listened to it yet.

All 11 parts of the podcast are available at review journal dot com slash mobbed up One of the central stories that we tell in that podcast is the story of Frank Colada, who was a former mob associate. It was a part of this burglary crew in Las Vegas known as the Hole in the Wall Gang. On in this clip. Here he is recalling one of his initial conversations with reputed mob enforcer Tony Spilotro about forming that hole in the Wall Gang. So I get out of the car and Tony Herbie Blitzstein standard there. I know Herbie so he tells her, we stay over to her, be so we go on this side and he tells me he's talking. We're talking with our hands like this. He says. I'm glad you came. I saw Joe more or less ordered me. I said, But I'm hearing out. Tony. What do we What? What do you need? What do you need me to do? So he said I need you to watch my back watch. Make sure you be able to take care of people. They come out here from Chicago. Our fronts in the casinos get them jobs, get them cops.

They're going to know who you are and all these casinos. Even before you walk in the door, they're gonna know that you're with me. I thought if I'm going to know that he said, That's what I'm thinking of. He said, I need you to get some guys. He's like I said, I got guys with me, but I want our guys from Chicago. I said, hi, Tony. But they got to earn these guys got to earn. I'll get you guys they ain't gonna work for not and we don't give paychecks on. He's still they could steal, do anything they want. If I wanted to whack somebody, I'll give him the okay on that, I'll get the okay from Chicago. It's okay. So that's when I formed a cruel guys. We have brought up a couple of people who have had plenty of firsthand encounters with Frank Kalata with the hole in the Wall Gang with organized crime in Las Vegas. Jeff, do you want to introduce our first Panelist? Absolutely. So our first Panelist is Stan Huntington has served as a special attorney for the U. S. Justice Department's organized crime and racketeering section in Detroit and then later with the Organized Crime Strike Force in Las Vegas in the 19 eighties.

We'll talk about that. In short, uh, he was in the thick of the action here for several years. So thank you for joining us, Dan. Thank you. And our next guest spent quite a bit of time reporting on the Mob during her nearly four decade career as a reporter and columnist with the Las Vegas Review Journal. One of her biggest scoops came in 2000 and eight, when she was the first to report that Chicago mob associate Frank Lefty Rosenthal had been a government informant. Don't worry, we'll talk about it. CNN, Morrison. Thanks for joining us. Thank you. And so our audience just heard a clip of Frank a lot of talking. And before we get into some other topics, I wanted to ask both of you. Um, do you have any good stories about about Frank that you'd like to share? When? When he first decided to change sides, if you will, and become a government witness? Uh huh. He was stashed for a little while in an underground, uh, pistol range that the marshals used in the basement of the federal building.

Uh uh, keeping their between other things that we were having gonna do. And I've never met him. Uh was taken down to me and the Marshall opened the the door. And of course, there's nobody in there and set up a cop for Frank and had And it was very dark, as if you turned off the lights and where and it being a shooting range. It occurred to me to say bang and Frank stood up from this car and said, That's not funny. That was our first exchange. I can picture that. My friends, uh, tell a story is after he was out and was becoming a public figure. You know, he he was no longer in hiding. He was no longer being sought by anything.

He was no longer undercover. And there was a panel somewhat like this, and I was on it. He was on. A number of other people were on it. I think it was the first panel he had done, but it was at the It was held at the Lawrence Park. Um, and I remember going there thinking this is the first time I wonder if he has enemies. Um, And so I ended up looking out at the audience to see if anybody was going to shoot us. And I saw all these men in Hawaiian shirts. Well, you know, a man in a Hawaiian shirt as an undercover agent packing, So I felt pretty safe there. Uh, it would have been a better story if there had been gunfire, but there was none. It was just a civilized conversation. So Jane and I wanted to ask, you were just starting out as a crime reporter during this time.

When when it was just coming to light. How involved in various casinos. The mob was in Las Vegas when you were starting out as a crime reporter. Did you expect the mob to be such a big part of your career? Well, I came here in 1976. Um, and then my I was in my late, uh, when things started popping in 78. 79. Uh, you know, big, big investigations were suddenly becoming an open, You know, the straw man case in Kansas City. The Argent case. Uh, I was just a kid, basically in my late twenties, and so I thought it was always going to be like this. I mean, it was the most exciting time of my life. And I was meeting people like Frank Rosenthal and like, Anthony Spilotro and I thought there would always be some people like that around in Las Vegas. I thought Las Vegas would stay that way, and it didn't, uh, which is the good news, but it changed.

Uh, ask your question, Stan, can you give us a sense of what your job was on the strike force? What did that entail? What was the what was the mission of that group? And what was your job within it? I wasn't there at the beginning. Notwithstanding what Reid said about the is, um, a judgment that there are still people lodging and around. What? The beginning was 1961 when John Kennedy was elected president, appointed his brother Robert, Attorney general. And they began setting up, uh, what was in the strike force system. Now, the problem with the name is that it tends to conjure up people jumping out of airplanes with machine guns was actually 100 and 50. Prosecutors spread out over 18 cities in the United States.

Uh, and the difference between those lawyers and all the other lawyers in the Department of Justice was that we were to focus completely on organized crime cases. No bank robberies, kidnappings, things like that unless they had some connection with organized crime. I started out in Detroit office in the second case I worked on was the assassination of Jimmy Hoffa. So I was a lot like Jane and I thought it was pretty good job. This is what we're gonna do. You probably thought you were going to solve that case to at the time. And then 45 years later and you had a program courtesy of my museum here about that and there were still new theories coming out that night 45 years after it happened.

So Gene in you mentioned a couple of names. Tony Spilotro, Frank Rosenthal. You had a lot of run ins with these folks back in the day. What was it like to just be, you know, out in public or doing your job or hanging out at a bar and running into guys who had connections? You would see them. In my case. I would see them in the federal courthouse. Um, I spent a fair amount of time with Tony Spilotro when he was doing hearings, and they were arguing. His attorney, Oscar Goodman, was arguing, you know, to get things dismissed so it couldn't be presented as evidence in the trials with Frank Rosenthal. And he was very polite to me, you know, very polite. I was no threat to him to s Pelletreau. I mean, I was no, I was new. Uh, Don boils of Arizona doing the investigative work, and I was known Ed Day running into him in bars and insulting him and saying, writing things like he's a man that walks like a spark plug or could be the other way around.

Uh, either way, it's insulting. Um, and so and so he was very nice to me. His wife and I would chat in the hallways about our cats. I mean, you got to talk about something. What else is she going to say? And then with, uh, Frank Rosenthal, I would run into him. Uh, the first time I ran into him was in a television interview show, and I'm the kind that writes my questions out. And, uh, it was live television. And we were I was going to ask him a question, and I looked up at him and he looked at me with absolute hate, and that was my first encounter with him. So I didn't understand why he hated me so much, but I think it was a little just hostility towards the media and hostility towards women. Um, so I looked down and I had my question, and I and I, uh, recovered, but it seemed like the longest 20 seconds of my life.

Um, and then I would run into him, and I left. I saw him coming out of the grand jury room one day, and this is when he was wearing, you know, the hat that he refused to take off and he wouldn't even take it off for the grand jury because he had hair plugs put in. And so he was coming out. And I was gonna you know, my job was to ask him what was going on. The grand jury, What did he say? And of course, I knew he wasn't going to tell me anything. But again, he looked at me like I was a worm and, like, he would like to step on. Me and I tried to joke, and that was a mistake. Uh, then because then he really wanted to step on me. But when I would run into him, it was I was I thought he was more frightening than Spilotro was at least to me. Now, Spilotro supposedly murdered 22 people, but he was never convicted of that.

That was just what the feds thought that he did. Um, anyway, it was It was, uh it was really nerve wracking to be with bits for, uh, Rosenthal stand. So your your job part of your job anyway, was to review wiretap recordings, will review the transcripts and so forth trying to find the right evidence. You have a favorite wiretap I understand from this period. Can you tell us about that? Yeah, There were a lot, and it comes under the heading of dark humor. But, uh uh, sometimes what you're listening to, uh, at least some time later becomes funny, even if it isn't at the time. And the Gangsters, uh, I always thought that they were beaten wiretapped because for them, it was a status symbol, you know, because if the FBI's bothering to listen to my conversations all must be important.

So they would keep interrupting each other regularly to say, uh I think my phone stopped or I hear a clicking noise or something like that. And, uh, we had a wiretap up on the throne. That's kilometre was using. And the guy he was talking to did this usual. Uh, I hear clicking. I think my phone's tapped and Spilotro said, It's the G standing for government. It's the G. They never sleep. Of course, you know everybody involved on our side. But that was just great. You didn't get that any compliment. That was one. So before we let you go, we have a couple questions from our podcast listeners.

Jeffrey C. Wrote in with a question for Jane M. He was wondering if you could speak more about your reporting on Lefty Rosenthal being a government informant. Specifically pointed out that your sources were anonymous for that anonymous government sources. Um, can you tell us about that story, how it came to be and how it can be reported so long after, uh, Frank Rosenthal was in Las Vegas? It's interesting for preparing for tonight. I saw a story that I did in 95 and even in 95 it was speculated that he wasn't indicted. He wasn't charged. I mean, yes, he might have been, uh, doing some grand jury stuff, but he was probably saying, No comment. Um, and even in this this story from 95 when I wrote about what's real and what's not real in the in the, uh, movie casino. Even then, I have a whole sections about how people thought he was an informant, but they couldn't prove, you know, they couldn't prove it.

Well, as soon as he died, um, you know, suddenly then I could get people who are knowledgeable to say Yes, he works the government. I could never get them to say what he gave them if he gave him anything. I mean, he may have just been playing both sides, but it was an interesting And I wasn't the only one that thought he was doing this. I mean, this was sort of an, uh, you know, bar talk among journalists and people like that. But once he was dead, I was able to get people to to say it. And that was a big a big story. Yeah. And you mentioned you referenced the story that you wrote in 95 our second question is actually related to that. Bill s had a question about the movie casino. Uh, and he asked having been around during this, the era in which the movie takes place. How accurate do you think the movie was? Particularly in its portrayal of Frank Rosenthal, who, of course, was played by Robert De Niro. Right.

Well, I just happened to have found this today. Uh oh, yeah, I got a drop. So this was a story I did in 95 talking about what was real and what was what was fiction Uh, and it was a fun story to do because you got people to talk about it about Harry, Reid said. It was the worst time of this life. Um, and, uh, you know this this era. But Nick Pileggi, who wrote the book and the screen fly he said it was about 50% fact and 50% section. I think it was more like 70% fact and 30% fiction because And part of the fiction is you don't you don't want to get sued by anybody still alive. Um, but I mean, the the the story was really came from two sources. It came from Frank Rosenthal himself, and it came from Frank Salata Kalata.

So the Spilotro people ended. A Tony Spilotro ended up being the villain of the piece. Robert De Niro is playing the the elegant version of Rosenthal, and there's one scene in the movie where he gets up from behind his desk and he goes to the closet and he picks up, he gets his trousers and puts him on. He was known that that was true. Uh, some of the stuff that you didn't think might be true was true. and then other things, Like, uh, an episode between Nancy Spilotro and Jerry Rosenthal. Uh, they soften that. So? So there were things that were moved around for theatrical purposes. And Stan, I assume you've seen the movie casino as well. I thought it was a great movie. But we've got, uh, couple of great movies that have been done about the author assassination, including just years ago, Uh, some great Las Vegas movies, great mom movies.

But I don't think you want to try to stack them up and compare them with the truth. I mean, the point of making a movie is to sell tickets to the, uh, movies. I did. Uh, I did think that, uh, remember hearing back about the time casino came out. Uh huh. I remember thinking De Niro seems like a much nicer person than thank Rosen. Fall in plain English? Uh, yeah. Uh, I was told. Uh huh. That rosen for God. $250,000 to be a consultant on the movie. And suddenly it became very clear to me why the general characters say sympathetic.

Yeah, I was always impressed and told people this that that's the movie that really captured the look of Las Vegas at that time, and it was a spot on. They get the They found places that really, really captured the look, the clothes, everything. There's even a couple scenes where they make Kansas City look like Las Vegas. They shot some of the Kansas City scenes here. Uh, but they thank you so much to both of you for joining us. For anyone watching who hasn't listened to mobbed up, you can hear a whole lot more from Stan and Jane Anne on the podcast again. You can check out the podcast at review journal dot com slash mobbed up. Our next guest is someone else who shared his story on that podcast. He is most well known as a longtime U S senator from Nevada. But before he went to Congress, he spent four years as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. And it was a highly eventful four years, during which he fended off allegations of corruption, participated in an FBI sting operation and famously squared off with the guy we've been talking about.

Chicago Mob associate Lefty Rosenthal at licensing hearings. Uh, he wasn't able to join us live but we're going to play an interview I conducted with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Senator Harry Reid. I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to join us for this mobbed up live show and chat with me once again about the mob and your time on the gaming Commission. So I know a lot of our listeners were fascinated by the stories you shared on the podcast about your time with the Nevada Gaming Commission. And one of the things that I know I've been wondering since we last spoke is how your experience on the Gaming Commission compared to what you expected going in. You know? Were you expecting it to be such a tumultuous time? Or did that come as a surprise? It really came as surprise. I don't know. Surprise is the right word, but something I didn't expect, Thank you.

My predecessor, Pete Echeverria, very prominent lawyer from Real and or County and the Governor and I, and then with him in his home in Reno. This whole meeting, its rays home. And he started talking. I thought it was drivel. I mean, I thought, Why is he talking this way and look right out that window. He said there are people out there all the time watching me, following me around in my car. And I just thought that was so much. Yes. What? It wasn't. Yeah. So I'm gonna jump around here a little bit. Um, one of the other things that you told me the last time that we spoke I was that you've actually made a point of never watching the movie casino. Um, and obviously you're aware that there is a character in the movie that was loosely based on you. But why have Why have you never, uh, wanted to watch the movie, or why do you never want to watch the movie? Heard the movie made? Uh huh. The worst people ever existed on earth. Uh huh. They made him look good. Uh, is somebody that was bad for Nevada?

Bad for gaming? Uh, he was He was convicted family of bright and basketball players. And you're speaking about Lefty Rosenthal? Yeah, he was tall. And he, uh, well, he's He's probably the only person I've ever been physically afraid of because I knew he wouldn't do anything personally, but he had people killed. I haven't had a friend. Uh, he lived with one of them. His friend was up dating where Rosenthal's girlfriends stepped out of his apartment. He could get killed. No, that's what Red Room. Until he was a killer, not himself. But he had it done. And the friend you're talking about is that Is that Gerry Bates? So we actually had a question from one of our listeners, Ryan s. He wrote in with a question about Gerry Bates, who for any viewers who might not recognize that name, was a former boxer, Um, and a friend of Sonny Liston's For awhile, I believe, who provided your security for a long time.

Um, and Ryan's question. I'll read it off here. He said, We know Gerry Bates, the boxer, the blackjack dealer and security detail. But what is a memory or a story that you come back to when you think about Gary that defines his essence? Or his character? Garry Bates was so nice to my wife. He called her all the time, called her my little girl. Very bass was big man. Been a boxer is very handsome, even though his nose was a little bet. Um, but he was for me. He was, for example, language just got off the treadmill. I was how to We had our home in Searchlight. We're gonna come back from Washington. We were still based in Washington, my home in Searchlight. So Gary Bass, I said, Gary, get me up. Treadmill. He said, you know how to get your Cadillac. And he found the most expensive one he could find. We shall have to move it over here. So that's Gerry Bates with my friend. Mhm. I never gave Jerry Bates five cents. Never. But I was his best man at several of his weddings.

Um, who is married? There are five times early. Who is last marriage is it? Lasted Mary Carmen. And they were married quite a few years. That answer and died. So that's my memory of Gerry Bates. He just such a Verlander. And for me, he was just the best. Somebody, um, good dream. All these years later, how do you reflect on your four years on the Nevada Gaming Commission? Uh, and the actions that that you took and that other regulators took to, um to get the mob out of the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Well, I had something to do with I thought that I really understood gaming. I had been in the assembly and then the city attorney been lieutenant governor. I thought I knew. Well, obviously I did. I did. Did not know at but Mob was so entrenched in what's going on in Las Vegas.

And there are a number of reasons we were able to get rid of that. Not one person got it done, But let me mention a couple of people. First of all, man made Parry Thomas Stadium. That's who he is. Uh, he was a very handsome movie. Star looking man was in Salt Lake. He was a banker and he decided that he was going to have a bank in Las Vegas because you mhm that it was wrong that banks will not loan money to the gaming establishments. Mhm heard of the bank down here, and that's That's the Bank of Las Vegas. No, no, I think Bank of Commerce to start with, um so he was instrumental. He's the one that went to Carson City during the Legislature and sold the Legislature and establishing corporate ownership of gaming in the past they would not allow corporations own.

And of our gaming establishments Oh, he's one market amount. Now that is really significant. Mhm. The other person that should be mentioned as Grant sire was the governor, and he was always, uh, in tune with what Mary Thomas was trying to do. And I think as a result of that, we came out with a much better operation Gaming Control Board Gaming Commission. Uh, it's worked out very well. Well, Senator Reid, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing some more of these stories. Appreciate your interest. Yeah, the first of our next Panelist is over here. To my left. Michael Green, a historian and associate professor of history at UNLV. He's written a whole bunch of books about the history of Nevada, most recently Nevada. A history of the Silver State. He's also one of the board members here at the Mob Museum. Thanks for joining us, Mike. Thanks for having me. Also with us is Jeff Silver, who is a former member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and his Strip hotel casino executive.

Uh, he also happens to be chair of the Mob Museum Board of directors. Welcome back, Jeff. Thank you. My pleasure. And first, I want to thank Thank read for what I considered to be a wonderful podcast series. I I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was so compelling, so truthful, so accurate about what was going on at the time. I thought, uh, you did an excellent job and certainly are deserving a great phrase. I I appreciate that. And I appreciate you being a part of it. And I'm joining us for this. And as I like to say in board meetings with them, I'll second the motion. I appreciate that as well. Uh, Mike, I'll start with you. So we've been talking a lot about the seventies and eighties in Las Vegas, the casino era. We're going to put it in terms of movies as opposed to the Bugsy era or whatever else, um, or the corny rom coms of the 2000. Uh, but of course, the mob was here long before the seventies and eighties. Can you give us sort of a quick overview of the early history of organized crime in Nevada? In Las Vegas, you can find a lot of different forms of it. and there was some going on in Reno as well in the old days, but gambling becomes legal in Nevada in 1931.

Even before that, there are a couple of operators around here. One was named Jim Ferguson, and I'll send you to the Mob museum website. One of our board members, Bob stole all that, a wonderful series on Ferguson's involvement here. But when we get into things in the thirties, the corn Ero brothers coming from California, they were involved in all kinds of prohibition activities over there that were illegal. And you get guys who are coming in and they're they're in small operations, small casinos. There isn't that much happening until you get into the World War two era, and then you begin to see people tied to Meyer Lansky where we now know they're tied. But even then there were plenty of suspicions, and they end up getting involved in the El Cortez. They also get involved in race wires was very important to be involved in that, because then you had all the oddsmakers around the country and all the races and the betting going on, and that's actually what brought Bugsy Siegel here to be involved in the race wire, and then he goes into the casino business.

So by the time Siegel opens the Flamingo in December of 46 they're already a few others around here, different cities and so on. And then as the strip develops in the forties, fifties and sixties, what you get are people from different parts of the country. You get a sort of New York group, but you have Gus Greenbaum out of Phoenix. Ben Gostin was involved up in Albany, New York You get the Mayfield Road Gang out of Cleveland. Uh, there are people coming in from Kentucky, Chicago, and so you. This becomes sort of a central location for organized crime interest because here they could legally operate a casino. There's an old line that Benny Binion had that really applies. He was asked, Why did you leave Dallas for Las Vegas? And he said, My sheriff got beat. Well, he didn't have to worry about that here. The sheriff was fully expecting you to run a casino here, Jeff. We saw that it was back to the 19 seventies and eighties.

Uh, we saw in the seventies the emergence of state gaming regulators as as a force to be reckoned with. And and you were among those to be reckoned with. Um, can you explain kind of how and why this occurred at that time? The original concern was that the feds were going to find a way to make gambling illegal. Nevada was the only state that had legalized gambling. And essentially, this was the development over the years from John F. Kennedy, uh, and Bobby Kennedy's attack on organized crime. The fact that in this particular room we had hearings that that, uh, Senator Keith Offer was holding about the race wire. And, uh so it was a development that if if we would not clean up our own house, then the feds, we're going to find a way to tax us out of existence or find other reasons why gambling was going to be made illegal in the state. And of course, it was. The state's major economy still is today, and that was something that I think that the regulators took to heart.

The first Gaming Control Board after the Gaming Control Act was test in 1959. The appointment by the governor was grand Sawyer was to put former FBI agents on as members of the board. So they were trying to demonstrate to the federal government that there that we had the ability to clean up our own act, and that was a continuing, uh, theme throughout. It had a lot of people that were moving against it because organized crime had been so ingrained in our society. And that's the reason why we had the federal strike force in Stan Huntington here and those people because the feds thought that if you stayed here long enough as an FBI agent or as a U. S. Attorney, somehow you would be tainted by the culture of Las Vegas being a criminal culture. And therefore we had to bring in people from out of town in order to make sure that, uh, that justice was being meted out correctly and, uh, strike forests and stand and the people that came in there. I was investigated by a guy named Dick Crane by the governor of the state of Nevada before he pointed me Michael Callahan, just to make sure that somebody from the outside took a look at me and my background before putting me in a position where I was charged with the cleanup of organized crime.

Yeah. So one of the things that I find particularly fascinating about the mob in Las Vegas, as opposed to other cities is that different mob families would actually cross, invest and end up working together instead of competing for territory or for for different casinos. And I've talked to both of you about this, so I'll throw it out there for either of you to answer. But how did that come to be? And what are some examples of a situation where you had different mob families from around the country working together? I mean, I can give you all kinds of stories about investigations that we did. For example, uh, the ST Louis mob, Uh, and the Detroit people had the Aladdin Hotel, and, uh, when the Aladdin was running out of money because they siphon too much off of the establishment. More Shankar who was with the dunes in the ST Louis side with Jimmy Hoffa. Uh, he would go over to the lab and play blackjack and purposely lose enough money to put money back into the cage so that they can meet their payrolls and and things of that nature. Uh, we had people packing up the leases with $100 bills and, you know, we're heading off to different cities to pay the tribute to the various organized crime people that have partnered up in these various casinos.

And these are things that we determined were occurring as a result of of FBI wiretaps. When I when I was first appointed on the board my first week or two there, um, the FBI, I think, wanted to test me. I was 29 years old and I didn't really have a background as to all the things that were going on. Although I grew up in Las Vegas, Uh, but they asked me to go into the Dunes Hotel and see if I could get information from them for them for a search warrant. So what I did was I walked into the cage and I showed my badge to the guy that was in charge of the cage, and I said, I'd like to see your file box with all the names of the safe deposit boxes that you have for your customers there. And, you know, they objected to it. But, you know, as a gaming agent, I had the ability to get any kind of information I wanted. And, uh so I did find out which box belong to Which person? I told the FBI what what it was. They put it on a search warrant, came in, drilled the boxes and got, like, $800,000 in cash from these people.

That was ill gotten gains. So that was all tested in the in the federal courts because they tried to suppress that information. But, uh, that cemented me and my relationship with the FBI for my four years there. They knew I would be trustworthy and helpful in in the job of trying to get rid of organized crime. Right? Well, what you find is that they were coming in here in essence, paying some tribute to Lansky. Apparently, there was the joke. I heard from somebody who wants, you know, one for me, one for the government, one for Meyer. And you also had respect between them, at least in the earlier group. Modal, It's was in a lot of ways. The leader Now Robin's Cahill, who was one of Jeff Silvers predecessors of the Control board. I think he used the term Silk Glove man. Guys like Dallas might have been tough in their youth, but they're businessmen and being businessmen, they understand this is our golden goose.

We're not going to kill it. And that includes competition. They're competing for the dollar, but they're also united their their politicians. They like there are issues there together on their their organizations. They get together to help. And I think that the cutthroat part of it, uh, tended to involve when people got in their way, but in terms of among themselves, not so much of that. So there was a lot of cooperation. And then later we get into the casino era will call that for the movie, and we've got Chicago Kansas City in Milwaukee. And there's the story where Nick Savella, uh, finds out from Allen Glick that Frank Balestra in Milwaukee isn't doing what he thought he was. Now they're upset with each other. Uh, so it's a different generation, in a sense, even if you know this group that we're talking about, like Savella are in the same age group. But it's a different generation in Las Vegas gaming history. Jeff. Uh, So the effort to push the mob out of Las Vegas involved a lot of different entities and individuals.

Uh, but it's a really important contributor to this was a journalist Ned Day. Um, can you explain who that day was and why he was so significant in your mind today was a man of his own. I mean, he didn't answer to any other person but himself, and he came here as a journalist and saw that there was organized crime here and thought, This is going to be my ticket to, uh, to fame. I'm going to go after and find out who these people are and assist those people in the government who are trying to get rid of them. And I'm gonna shine this light on. I mean, it's not going to be just a little 10 light. It's going to be a full blown searchlight. And he had first started with a newspaper called The Valley Times, and that didn't have a lot of circulation, although for the inside group they all read it because there was some information there that they couldn't get from more traditional sources, and then he moved from there to the Las Vegas Review Journal and then to KLS TV, the CBS affiliate.

And all throughout the time that he was there, he was tat tat tat tat tat. He was shining the light on like this for lateral. He believed him the name Tony the Ant. And he was calling these people out and he created. He made them media celebrities. And that was the one thing that the people in Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City did not want. They did not want their theft machine to be disturbed by someone who was shining a light on them and saying how bad these people were because the Society of Las Vegas had had more or less come accustomed to organized crime people and tolerated them. It didn't think about them as being loan sharks, burglars, bad people, murderers. And, uh, when when he started doing those things, he created an interest from other reporters Jane Anne, Gwen Castaldi, George Knapp, some of the other people that people in Las Vegas know about, and they started focusing on organized crime, and the end result was is that when Rosenthal was denied his license, he didn't have the same kind of platform that he would have had if it had been just me or the members of the Gaming Control Board or Harry Reid and the commission.

He was also getting information about himself, about his ego and about all the other things that were going on in the city that were contrary to the best interests of Las Vegas. That was all being published by guys like Ned Day and Night Day. In particular, he started chasing down some of the people that were accused of the start of slot scam, the $7 million scam that they took money from the from the the Argent Corporation properties by substituting underway in coin and substituting that for cash. And and that was disappearing. Everyone was accusing of J. Vandermark of that the slot guy, but it was really money going. There was going directly back to Chicago, and Vandermark was not to be seen. Since I know that Ned Day came into my office and asked for 500 bucks to go down to Mexico to go looking for J. Vandermark because he had some information on the leads that he was going to be there and I gave him the money, and I think he got pretty close.

But he never did find J. J. Vandermark, but he was. It was it was Ned that created that bravery in the journalistic profession that I think was the beginning of the end for organized crime, because he's the one that focused on what was right and did the right thing in terms of telling the public about it. So before we let you go, we have a couple questions from podcast listeners. The first from Eric, are who asked, Were there any big name casinos the mob wasn't involved in? And let's, let's assume, pre 19 nineties, of course. So I used to say that the gaming was after we were done. It was 99 44 100% pure. But with 1600 licenses, that's still left room for quite a few. That were pretty bad. Um, but I would have to say that, you know, the the after Howard Hughes came in that that changed the landscape quite a bit because now we were looking at corporate America.

We're looking at, uh, people who who came in and had backgrounds in in FBI that that we're helping Howard used with his properties. You didn't have the same kind of people that were running these casinos because now you had accountants that came in and changed the whole culture of the gaming industry itself. And I think with that I would have to say that there were quite a few that did not have organized crime connections. But we all know who the real bad ones were. I mean, they were the ones that ultimately turned out to be, uh, parts of indictments of the Tropicana, they Aladdin dunes, the the origin properties. Uh, those those all all were part and parcel of the ones that were discovered in the Kansas City tapes. Jeff, I assume you would add Kirk Kerkorian probably to that list as, well. Korean. I think that was one of the square shooters. I'm sorry I didn't mention him. He was really a legend in terms of of showing how it could be done the right way. And our second question, uh, we actually got a few questions that will sort of merge into one.

They were all about the mob landscape in the US today from Ashley be Barbara M. And Matt E. Um, I'll ask specifically about Las Vegas. Is the mob out of Las Vegas? And if the traditional Mafia is out, what does organized crime look like in Vegas today? Well, in terms of running the casinos, I think it's safe to say they're out. And this has to do with corporations and what Jeff Sylar was saying. There's also a whole different set of regulations that they have to deal with, and my joke over the years has been, you know, they're not around because there are no 99 cents steak dinners. That's just the way things are now. But where you'll find organized crime. It's always around, and it's certainly around here, and you'll find it on the streets. You'll find it involved in drugs or prostitution, the things that frankly traditional organized crime was involved in. If you just separated it from Las Vegas, where they have the casinos as well, illegal casinos.

I mean there's illegal gambling around the country. We know that they're going to be involved in that, so they're still out there. But in terms of running Las Vegas casinos, the way they did that has changed? Mm, yeah. Mm. That brings us to the end of mobbed up live. As I mentioned at the top, you can watch a video of the entire event at review journal dot com or on the Las Vegas Review Journal Facebook page. As always, you can check out more review Journal podcast at review journal dot com slash podcasts And you can learn about what's coming up at the Mob museum by visiting the mob museum dot org. Thanks for joining us for this bonus episode and thanks again for joining us throughout the series. Take care.

BONUS: Mobbed Up (Almost) Live
BONUS: Mobbed Up (Almost) Live
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