Best Known For
Tony Spilotro is best known as a mob representative in Las Vegas from the 1970s to the '80s. He was brutally beaten and murdered by mob members in 1986.
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As a result, Spilotro the Nevada Gaming Commission officially blacklisted Spilotro in December 1979. The ruling legally prevented Spilotro from being physically present in any Nevada casino.
This didn't prevent Spilotro from continuing to conduct his business, however. The Hole in the Wall Gang now included Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Joe Blasko and mob members Frank Cullotta, Leo Guardino, Ernest Davino, Sal Romano,
Lawrence Neumann and Wayne Matecki, Samuel Cusumano and Joseph Cusumano.
Their robberies had also expanded to include the tri-state area. In addition, it was rumored the Spilotro had began dealing drugs through a motorcycle gang. He had also taken to Rosenthal's wife, and the two were having a less-than-secret affair. Despite his setback at the casinos, Spilotro felt he still had Las Vegas by the tail.
The mob, however, was not pleased with the amount of attention that Spilotro was drawing to himself. The blacklisting and the affair created unwanted headaches for the Outfit. In the minds of the mob bosses, Spilotro had two strikes against him. His third would come soon enough.
On the night of July 4, 1981, The Hole in the Wall Gang had planned a big robbery for Bertha's Gifts & Home Furnishings, which they believed would garner at least $1 million in profits. But once they had penetrated the roof, police surrounded the store and arrested Cullotta, Blasko, Guardino, Davino, Neumann and Matecki. They were each charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted grand larceny and possession of burglary tools.
The botched robbery was due to the defection of the alarm system specialist in group, Sal Romano. Romano had turned informant after the police had pegged him for another crime, and had told the police about the planned heist. The Hole in the Wall gang was locked in the Las Vegas police department's holding cell in downtown Las Vegas. Cullotta also turned state's witness after he discovered Spilotro had put a contract on his life. Culotta's testimony, however, proved to be insufficient evidence. Spilotro was acquitted again.
The Chicago Syndicate bosses were not pleased. In their opinions, Spilotro had made a public spectacle of himself in Las Vegas, and had to be removed. As later testimony indicated, the Spilotro brothers were called into a meeting with the understanding that Michael would become a made man. Instead, on June 14, 1986, the brothers were tortured and beaten before being buried alive in a cornfield in Enos, Indiana.
In 2005, more than two decades after Spilotro's death, the film Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese, was released to eager audiences. The character Nicky Santoro in the film, played by actor Joe Pesci, was based on Spilotro. In 2007, during the government's Operation Family Secrets investigation aimed at clearing up unsolved gangland killings, several men confessed to the Spilotro killings.
Albert Tocco and Nicholas Calabrese, pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy that included hits on Anthony and Michael.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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