Jmmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa, an excerpt from my future book about Las Vegas.
The Teamsters and Jimmy Hoffa had a lot to do with Las Vegas’ growth. Millions of dollars of Teamster pension funds were loaned to known associates of organized crime notables, as late as 1976, to finance hotel-casino operations that were syphoning millions of dollars into the underworld coffers. Teamster trustees and officials have tried to give the impression that the fund’s suspicious loans stopped in 1967 when Jimmy Hoffa, who owed a great deal of outstanding favors to racketeers, went to federal prison. The record shows that the dubious loans continued until the Federal Pension Law took effect on Jan. 1, 1975. After this law was in service, according to Florida and Nevada investigations, a Teamster Pension Fund loan was made to a man directly linked to Meyer Lansky. The reputed associate of Meyer was on track to receive millions of dollars from the owners of Caesars Palace.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hoffa had a big plan and lots of associates that could help him make it work. Hoffa’s bizarre blueprint for conquest of the American economy stipulated that Hoffa would become czar of the nation’s vital transportation facilities, as well as boss of millions of policemen, firemen, and government employees across the nation. He was so powerful that a single order from this brazen confidant of gangsters could halt all trucking, prevent the unloading of ships, prohibit the flow of cargo by air or rail, and call from their jobs the individuals who run state and local governments and protect public and private property. He was politically powerful as well “thug” powerful in close alliance with the top mafia bosses around the country like John “Johnny Dio” Dioguardi and Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo. Hoffa, then the international president of the Teamsters, used Dioguardi and Corallo in his efforts to capture control of the union in New York City. Dioguardi was an associate who worked under Lucky Luciano, and was involved in the 1956 acid attack that led to the blinding of newspaper columnist Victor Riesel.
Federal investigators, through electronic bugs, obtained recordings that not only implicated Corallo, but also seven other high-ranking mobsters in other families and provided the first proof as to the existence of the Mafia Commission. Corallo and Salvatore Avellino, Jr., who was affiliated with the Lucchese family, had long conversations on many topics. The government now had the chance to attack the high levels of several Cosa Nostra families.
The national criminal syndicate with legitimate labor and business was more critical than has heretofore been revealed. The report prepared for New York City police commissioner Lee brown stated:
The ramifications of this problem presented the gravest implications for the destiny of our national economy. This close-knit, clandestine, criminal syndicate, has made fortunes in the illegal liquor traffic during prohibition, and later in narcotics, vice, and gambling. These illicit profits help the syndicate with a financial problem, which they solve through investment in legitimate business. These legitimate businesses also provide convenient cover for their continued illegal activities.
The Senate Rackets Committee investigated Hoffa for two years and charged him in eighty-two specific instances with collusion with employers, conflicts of interest, tie-ups with hoodlums and gangsters, the rigging of union elections, the spending of dues funds “as if they were his own,” and suppressing the rights of members through brute force.
The Senate Committee cited Hoffa for the following :
Hoffa “masterminded” the chartering of seven bogus “paper locals” in New York. These locals were gangster-controlled, devoid of actual membership and set up to steal the election of the president of powerful Joint Council 16 for Hoffa’s buddy, John O’Rourke.
Hoffa “obstructed justice” by having secret Grand Jury testimony in Michigan leaked to him. He then forced a witness who gave detrimental evidence to flee to California before the witness could further testify.
Hoffa arranged for $200,000 in Teamsters welfare funds to be loaned to a Minneapolis Department store at a time when that store was in the midst of a strike with a fellow AFL union.
Hoffa maneuvered $31,953 in union dues into the defense of four teamsters officials who were tried and found guilty of extorting money from employers.
Hoffa spent an additional $22,428 in union funds to defend one of the convicted extortionist Gerald Connelly of Minneapolis after he had been indicted in connection with the dynamiting of two fellow teamster officials.
Hoffa arranged for Zigmont Snyder to be appointed business agent of Detroit Local 299, although Snyder was a “notorious hoodlum” who operated a non-union Detroit car wash in which he sometimes paid workers less than $1 a day for 12 hours work.
Hoffa had $500,000 in union funds transferred to a Florida Bank to assure a loan of a corresponding amount of money from the bank to a land development scheme in which Hoffa and his chief lieutenant, Owen Bert Brennan, held a 45 per cent option to purchase.
Hoffa kept Henry Lower, promoter of the Florida land deal, on the union payroll to the tune of $59,000 in salary and expenses while he set up the real estate scheme.
Hoffa has constantly defended and aided Teamsters officials who “were selling out the interests of Teamster Union members by setting themselves up in highly improper business activities and by entering into collusive agreements with employers.”
Seventy-five per cent or more of the delegates to the 1957 convention that elected Hoffa president were chosen in violation of the union constitution. These included delegates from Hoffa’s own local, 299, and Owen Bert Brennan’s local 337.
Hoffa repeatedly has named hoodlums, ex-convicts, and individuals under indictment to high posts in the union.
Hoffa and Brennan were aided by Bert Beveridge, owner of a trucking firm, in acquiring a truck company for themselves. They then made special concessions to Beveridge in his labor contract with the Teamsters Union to the detriment of workers.
The wives of Hoffa and Brennan, using their maiden names, have been involved in a series of business arrangements with firms that the Teamsters must negotiate with.
Hoffa built an alliance with the International Longshoremen’s Association and attempted to lend it $490,000 from Teamsters coffers after the ILA was ousted from the AFL-CIO because it was bossed by racketeers.
Hoffa attempted to force 30,000 New York taxicab drivers into a union run by gangster Johnny Dio, although his own union was attempting to organize the drivers.
Hoffa caused the Health and Welfare Fund of the Michigan Conference of Teamsters to lose $600,000 in the first three years of operation because he awarded the fund’s contract to the Union Insurance Agency, run by his pal, Allen Dorfman. Incidently, Dorfman’s lady companion was a cocktail waitress at the Dunes Hotel.
Hoffa forced the union to pay between $5,000 and $7,000 to find the runaway wife of his brother, William Hoffa, and made the union pay William’s hotel bill and $75 in expenses while William was eluding police who wanted him on an armed robbery charge. Another little rumor is that Hoffa was related in some manner to Ross Miller of the Riviera Hotel.
The Rackets Committee found that at least sixty executives of the Teamsters union have been tried for a variety of crimes from murder on down. In Hoffa’s lengthy 1958 session with the Rackets panel, Hoffa was asked why Robert “Barney” Baker, a thug with a police record, was retained in a high union post.
Hoffa answered, “Senator, he is a great organizer, and every one of us has some faults.”
Robert Kennedy responded, “I think what he (Baker) has done is clear and his associations, and the fact that I read out the names of the people he has been associated with: Cockeyed Dunn, Meyer Lansky, Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Jimmy Blue Eyes, Bugsy Siegel, John Vitale, Lou Farrell, and what else do you want? What does it take, Mr. Hoffa?”
Hoffa replied, “I think those names attract you a lot more than they attract me, and I say to you that Baker, being in the capacity of organizing and carrying out his position in organizing, that we would have no way of knowing he was talking to these individuals unless he wanted to tell us, and apparently he didn’t. So I cannot be expected to reprimand an individual for something I didn’t know at the time it was happening.”
Hoffa did not invoke the Fifth Amendment one time throughout this entire Senate Hearing.
Hoffa’s close associate, Al Baron, was a regular around the Dunes Hotel in the early 1970s and the asset manager of the fund. After being investigated by a Chicago federal grand jury, he was removed by Teamster officials. He brought a lot of heat on the Teamsters. Al was a loud braggadocio type of guy. He let you know who he was in an arrogant style. He would enter the Dunes baccarat gaming area and basically throw his weight around. He was not a qualified casino man in any sense of the word, but he would take the opportunity to jump into the baccarat floorman’s “ladder chair” as soon as there was an opening. The “ladder chair” was similar to the type of ladder style chair that was used in some crap game operations. Al would always prefer the chair that faced out to the casino, so he could watch everyone and they could see him. He never wore a suit and did not look like he belonged in the chair. At this time he owned Golf Course Motel, which was on the present site of the MGM Grand.
Hoffa was a guest at the Dunes in the late 1960s and a friend indeed to the owners and operators. When he got out of prison, he announced that he wanted his job back, even though he’d been warned by Mafia associates to back off. “I’m not guilty then, nor am I guilty now,” Hoffa told union members in the 1970s.
The Mob was concerned that Hoffa might reveal the connection between Teamsters loans to Las Vegas casinos and the cash being skimmed from those casinos. Hoffa had to go.

On the last day of his life, hours before he was killed, Hoffa placed a frantic call to Las Vegas. An FBI telex shows that he phoned the Dunes hotel to speak to his lawyer, Morris Shenker, who bought into the Dunes with a Teamsters loan of his own. It is very probable that Shenker bought into the Dunes with Hoffa’s help and had Hoffa as his hidden partner. It would be inconceivable that it would not be any other way. Shenker couldn’t turn him down. Over the years, Hoffa employed Shenker’s services and they remained as tight as a bolt and a nut.
Shenker, whom Life magazine once called the “foremost lawyer for the mob in the U.S.,’” was the former head of the St. Louis Commission on Crime and Law Enforcement despite alleged business and personal ties with the gangsters who operated in the city. He was frequently in the national spotlight representing gambling figures before the Estes Kefauver hearings on organized crime in the early 1950s. Hoffa was his most famous client. A federal grand jury accused Shenker of conspiring to skim thousands of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service and bankruptcy creditors. The money supposedly was diverted from a California partnership owned by his children to individuals in Canada and then back to Shenker’s secretary in Las Vegas in an elaborate scheme to avoid creditors. Shenker denied any wrongdoing.
Former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ronald J. Lawrence said of Shenker:
“There is a tendency to dismiss as inconsequential the tremendous influence and power wielded inside and outside the underworld by Morris Shenker, a functionary for the St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and other families. This largely was because most local law enforcement officers were unable to comprehend the complexity of the man and his operations.
“Shenker, a lawyer who once represented Jimmy Hoffa, was a mover and shaker and a financial genius of the caliber of Lansky. It was Shenker who tapped the Teamster Union’s Central States Pension Fund to finance much of the mob’s penetration of Las Vegas casinos and other ventures. Shenker’s influence extended far beyond the underworld and he was able to get two of his own federal indictments killed.
“St. Louis underworld interests controlled two Las Vegas casinos the Dunes, owned by Shenker, and the Aladdin.”
Shenker had filed for bankruptcy in 1984 after a $34 million court verdict against him for money he borrowed from the Culinary Workers Pension Fund for resorts in Southern California and other projects. Hoffa would turn over in his grave if he knew what Senker had ruined. There is a former casino owner that claims Shenker was also a government informant.
Shenker also was a lawyer for Tony Giordano of the St. Louis crime family, who was indicted and convicted of being a hidden owner in the Frontier Hotel at the time Mr. Interviewee was an officer in the corporation. The question is: Did Mr, Interviewee know about Tony Giordano? As the secretary to the casino operating company and confidant to Maury Friedman, how could he not know about Tony G? This is Las Vegas.


Mae Brussell

Mae Brussell

Mae Magnin was born on May 29, 1922 in Beverly Hills, California. Her father, Edgar Magnin, was a Reform rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Her paternal great-grandfather was Isaac Magnin, a frame carver and gilder. Her paternal great-grandmother was Mary Ann Magnin, the founder of I. Magnin, an upscale women’s clothing store in San Francisco, California.
She attended Stanford University in Palo Alto and received an Associate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Complacent Beverly Hills housewife Mae Brussell had quite an awakening in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, and again when she read and cross-indexed the massive 26-volume Warren Commission Hearings. She saw that the international terrorist network that had made up the Axis powers during World War Two had gone underground and continued their world-wide fascist campaign, overthrowing one country after another. America was not exempt.
Frustrated that this vitally important information was largely unknown to the American people, Mae went to her friend Henry Miller of Big Sur, California (with whom
she would later brag to friends about an affair). He told her that people can do anything they want if they apply themselves; live anywhere, learn anything. And there is nothing worse than looking back and regretting not having done what was important to you. “Don’t die before you’re dead.”
And with that advice Mae moved herself and the kids to Carmel, California and began the selfless, nonstop journey of political and history research that would soon rock the radio airwaves of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties from 1971 through 1988. Her listeners would never be the same.
While most of America slept:

Mae saw that most anything Americana was being infiltrated, murdered, infected, poisoned, or deregulated. As Mae stated at the University of California in Santa Cruz: “What is happening to us is a classical case of totally destroying us. And by the same people who’ve been at the top doing it since World War Two.”
On May 29, 1968 Mae confronted Rose Kennedy at the Monterey Peninsula Airport and handed her a note telling her Robert Kennedy would soon be assassinated. A week later he was shot to death at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Mae’s first published article in Paul Krassner’s The Realist was actually financed by John Lennon (Krassner couldn’t afford the $5,000 printing cost).
Frank Zappa once gave her a computer for filing and cross-indexing her research (but she never used it).
Two weeks before Patty Hearst was kidnapped Mae told a Syracuse University audience that the SLA shooting of school superintendent Marcus Foster was the beginning of terror and psychological sabotage, in the same vein Germany had been subjected to in the 1930s.
In August 1977 (broadcast #282) Mae discussed Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple move to Guyana. She speculated it might be a training camp for assassination teams – this was more than a year before 913 members of the church were massacred.
Much of Mae’s March 29, 1981 broadcast was spent discussing the power- struggle within the Reagan Administration and asked who willkill off their team members first. The following morning President Reagan was shot in Washington D.C. Her countless list of German and White Russian fascist fingerprints to President Kennedy’s assassination reached its peak in May of 1988 when she discovered the name “Adolf H. Schicklgruber” handwritten in Marina Oswald’s notebook of poetry in the Warren Commission exhibits.
There were times when death threats drove Mae off the air: once by Charles Manson family member Sandra Good in September 1975. Sometimes Mae resorted to recording her shows at home on her small cassette tape recorder and privately mailed out copies to her subscribers.
In 1983 Mae’s show was picked up by listener-sponsored KAZU FM in nearby Pacific Grove. Five years later she was forced off the air, for the last time, from death threats but continued sending out her weekly tapes to subscribers until June 13, 1988 (tape #862).  Mae died of cancer on October 3rd of that year. She was 66.


David Dunn – Memoriam

David Dunn

 We will miss him.

David Dunn is known nation-wide as the “Director of the Stars,” for having produced and directed hundreds of Direct Response commercials, infomercials, documentaries and TV shows in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and Chicago.   Dozens of these projects featured famous movie stars in their first commercials. He directed such stars as Bob Hope, Liberace, Betty White, George Burns, Edward G. Robinson, Gavin McLeod (“Loveboat”), Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Rosemary Clooney, Sally Struthers, and dozens of others! Coming from live television, he directed the famous “Romper Room” TV shows, “Hobo Kelly,” the nationally syndicated “Lloyd Thaxton Show, a daily teenage dance show seen in over 200 cities, and the syndicated “Bill Burrud Travel Shows.”  In addition he has directed hundreds of live shows, including the 6 camera Jazz Festival in France.  He has taken crews to Africa, Brazil and Guatemala to raise millions of dollars with Sally Struthers, Art Linkletter, and Pat Boone.  David was also selected by Johnny Carson’s wife to direct “Joanne Carson’s VIP’s”, a nationally syndicated talk show.

 In Los Angeles, he directed live movie premieres, the Santa Claus Lane Parade, and Toys for Tots telethons. In Las Vegas, David has been writing and directing the Fletcher Jones Automotive commercials for the past five years, as well as national commercials and half-hour infomercials for the Singer Sewing Machine Corporation, Foothill Nissan in Los Angeles, and Lexus.

David wrote an autobiographical manuscript and screenplay, “From Kansas to Hollywood!” which has been sold to a film producer in Hollywood.  It tells about how he built his own radio station as a kid and broadcast on the air in the small Kansas town where he was born.  When his parents moved to Wichita, Kansas, fourteen-year-old David practically lived on the doorstep of the NBC radio affiliate, until they decided to

hire him.  He was the youngest member of the IBEW Engineer’s Union in the United States and operated the controls for nearly all of KANS Radio’s live shows!  He even traveled statewide, doing live remotes with the station’s Country Western Band, “The Corral Gang!”  After five years, at the age of 19, TV came to Kansas and he was hired by the ABC affiliate, KAKE-TV.  He discovered that his real love was production work as opposed to engineering, so after becoming a cameraman for their live shows, he graduated to a director.   Chuck Connors, the star of “The Rifleman,” came to town and saw David’s work.  He told him that he belonged in Hollywood, so David gave his notice and was on his way!   He was hired by KCOP, channel 13 in Hollywood, where he became the Executive Producer/Director of their production department and started his career as a national commercial and show director. It’s “full circle” for David to be working in radio again!  He plans to interview stars that he’s worked with in Hollywood, plus present funny skits to fit in with the station’s format.  His new show is called “Open House With Radio Dave!”


“Handsome Johnny” Rosselli may have been murdered because he was handsome.

John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli , named at birth, Filippo Sacco,  was a member of  the Chicago Outfit who helped that organization control Hollywood and the Las Vegas Strip. In the early 1960s, Roselli was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

 On June 24 and September 22, 1975 Roselli testified before the 1975 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCIA) led by Idaho Senator Frank Church about the CIA plan to kill Castro, Operation Mongoose. Shortly before Roselli testified, an unknown person shot and killed Giancana in the basement of his Illinois home. This happened just days before Giancana was to testify before the committee. Giancana’s murder supposedly prompted Roselli to permanently leave Los Angeles and Las Vegas for Miami, Florida.

 On April 23, 1976 Roselli was called before the committee to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony on the Kennedy assassination, the Committee wanted to recall Roselli. However, at this point, he had been missing since July 28. On August 3, Senator Howard Baker, a member of the new SSCIA, requested that the FBI investigate Roselli’s disappearance.

 On August 9, 1976, Roselli’s decomposing body was found in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating in Dumfoundling Bay near Miami, Florida.  Federal investigators suggested he may have been killed by Chicago mobsters for keeping an unfair share of the mob’s gambling interests in Las Vegas.   Some connected persons say that Giancana knew to much about the Chicago Outfit, and that Rosselli may spill the beans in lieu of being deported, since he was in the US illegally.  At the behest of some members of the United States Senate, United States Attorney General Edward H. Levi instructed the FBI to find out if Roselli’s earlier testimony regarding the CIA plot to assassinate Castro may have led to his murder.

The nationally syndicated columnist Jack Anderson claimed that Rosselli told him the story of who killed John Kennedy: Anderson says that Rosselli heard that Fidel Castro had tortured his would be assassins and found out about the plot to kill him.  Rosselli suggested Castro used the same schemers to retaliate against John F. Kennedy.  Rosselli thought that Castro used these underworld Cuban elements, most from the Trafficante organization to arrange the killing of Kennedy.  Rosselli further speculated that Lee Harvey Oswald was lined up as the assassin, or he was used as a decoy while the real culprits ambushed JFK from a closer range.  Once Oswald was captured, the mob had to silence him, so Rosselli speculated that Jack Ruby, who had ties to Havana’s underworld, was ordered to eliminate Oswald.  Anderson believed that Rosselli’s speculation induced the mob to silence Johnny Rosselli.  Johnny’s Rosselli’s co-conspirator in the plot to kill Castro was Chicago Outfit member Sam Giancana who was murdered  before he was scheduled to testify in June 19, 1975.

 However there is one more theory floating around.  There was an alleged hit man, Max “Chinky” Rothman, muscle for the Nig Rosen-Meyer Lansky-Willie Weisberg organization in Philadelphia , who hung around the Stardust Hotel, that had a son named Al Rothman.  Al Rothman met a girl that worked at the infamous Blue Onion Drive-in, in Las Vegas.  Rothman married her and got her a job as a cocktail waitress at the Desert Inn Hotel.  She eventually ran into “Handsome” Johnny Rosselli and she chumed very closely.  Sources this reporter talked to were inclined to surmise that Rothman could have been the murderer of Johnny Rosselli.  And there is evidence that this could be the crime of marital retaliation. According to writer H. Albareli, Rosselli’s decomposed body was left with the infamous legendary message that Rosselli had crossed the line with Rothman’s wife.


The New Frontier Hotel

Sammy Davis Jr. with Frontier owner Maury Friedman
Irwin Leff, actor Jack Douglas, ELVIS, Maury Friedman

The Frontier Hotel was around in the late forties however gambler, promoter Maury Friedman had big ideas. These are some notes from interviews I had with one of the former partners of the Frontier, who may have been an informant for the FBI. I will not name the individual for reasons of privacy. In some sentences the text is in “first person” and there is the use of “I”. This is not this writer, but it refers to the interviewee.

Maury Freidman was still looking for investors, so he came to me and asked if I would go with him to Palm Springs where he was to meet with some potential investors. He never told me who he met with for reasons I found out later. Maury and Mal Clark, a broker who was trying to get investors for a finder’s fee, asked me to join them later after their meeting at a local restaurant. Irving Leff was also at the meeting. He was a partner with Maury in the New Frontier, and close friends with Sid Hudson and shoe magnate Harry Karl. Hudson was an employee of Karl’s; however, he basically became a resident in the Flamingo Hotel in its heyday. I still don’t know who they met with, but later I was told that they picked up the remaining points, which meant we could start construction. It was great news! Maury’s chickens almost came to roost on me.
In July 1970, I was called to meet with the FBI in Los Angeles. They were conducting an investigation into alleged “hidden interests” in the Frontier Hotel. I called Adrian Marshall, an attorney friend who lived in Los Angeles, to represent me. We discussed the situation and he agreed to meet me at the Grand Jury room.
I sat in the waiting room outside the Grand Jury room and recognized Tony Accardo and Paul “The Waiter” Ricca; however, neither of us acknowledged the other. I’d met each separately via Johnny Rosselli years earlier. Any recognition would have been more problems for all of us.
In 1969, Accardo was listed in the United States Congressional Record as a member of the Mafia. He was then considered by law enforcement authorities as the leader of the Chicago Outfit, but he was a smart guy and never did any jail time. He began his organized crime career in the late 1920s as a bodyguard for Al Capone and acquired the nickname “Joe Batters” after developing expertise using a baseball bat as an enforcement tool. In 1929, he was suspected to be a gunman in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Paul Ricca was another elder statesman right alongside Accardo. You didn’t mess with him, either. He was a top lieutenant for Capone when Capone was sent to jail, but he ran into trouble in the early 1940s when he and his pals, including Johnny Rosselli, were convicted of extorting close to $2 million from the movie industry. Ricca served three years of a ten-year sentence, then was paroled and took over as the leader of the Capone operations. He was Johnny Rosselli’s main juice in Chicago.
They were in the Grand Jury room about ten minutes each, which strongly suggests that they invoked the Fifth Amendment. After the inquisition, they left together. During this timeframe, Accardo had a home in Palm Springs and spent a lot of time there. These guys were strictly business and cold as ice.
What an ordeal I went through. I was grilled for three hours about Maury Friedman’s meeting in Palm Springs. Would you believe, I’d forgotten about it? So I denied going to the meeting until they produced a copy of an airline flight manifest dated during the time period the meeting took place that had my name on it. Damn! I was really shocked that my memory, which was and is usually very good, had gotten me into deep “doo doo” with the FBI. Of course, I had to admit going to Palm Springs with Maury, but I couldn’t tell them what they wanted to know because I wasn’t at the meeting. They wanted the names of the people who had met with Maury and Mal, and who had put the money up for the Frontier Hotel. All I could tell them was that I was told that they were from Detroit. Adrian and I conferred several times, and he was finally called in to meet with the agents by himself. They told him that if I testified for the investor group, they would severely restrict my freedom to do anything outside Leavenworth. They didn’t know they were doing me a great favor. That meant I couldn’t testify for anybody. I couldn’t testify for them or against them. What a relief! I was off the hook with everybody. Somebody up there was also very good at “sleight-of-hand” and dealt me the right cards.
There is no doubt in my mind that the FBI knew exactly who was at the meeting and they knew I was not there, so when I told them that I was not at the meeting, they knew I was telling the truth. They always have the answer before they ask you the question. Either they had the room bugged, just like they’d bugged the Desert Inn, the Fremont, and probably the Frontier Hotel, or they had an informant. As I said before, “we” (meaning the inside management group at the Frontier Hotel) suspected we had a mole within our group who was feeding information to the authorities. As I look back now, I’m sure that the place was bugged.
Ralph Lamb, Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, announced that he was going to investigate the Frontier for hidden ownership. In Clark County, the local government also has to approve a gambling license in addition to the State of Nevada. Technically speaking, a person could be approved for a State gaming license and be denied to operate within Clark County, where the Las Vegas “Strip” is located. The information that was given to the authorities was good enough for the police to barge into a Frontier room and arrest Anthony Zerilli, president of Detroit’s Hazel Park Racetrack. He was booked on vagrancy charges and released a few hours later. Zerilli’s father, Joseph, was a legitimate Detroit Mafia boss who was not apprehended at the legendary Mafia Appalachian meeting at the home of Joseph Barbara.
In that incident, the FBI questioned an employee at the Barbara estate and showed them Joseph Zerilli’s photograph, but the domestic employee suddenly could not identify Zerilli as being in attendance at the meeting. A further check of Hertz Rent-A-Car records reflect that Zerilli rented a car in Binghamton, New York and returned it to a Brooklyn, New York agency. The clerk stated that due to the volume of cars handled each day by him and also due to the considerable time lapse, he was unable to identify Zerilli as being the person who returned the car to his agency. The Hertz records indicated that the driver’s license used to secure the rental car was a Michigan driver’s license issued to Joseph Zerilli. Joseph Profaci was at the meeting; he is the father-in-law of Zerilli’s son, Anthony, who was arrested at the Frontier Hotel. Joe Zerilli denied being invited to Barbara’s home, denied any knowledge of the meeting, and denied any intention of appearing at the meeting.
Tony Accardo and Samuel Giancana were overheard in Chicago discussing that several prominent racketeers of Sicilian origin were “bosses in different parts of the country. They indicated that there are nine or twelve men who make up this so-called “Commission which mediates on matters involving jurisdictional disputes in so-called “open territories. Accardo mentioned that one of the members of this Commission is Joseph Zerilli of Detroit, Michigan. He stated that other members of this Commission were Vito Genovese, Joe Profaci Joe Bonanno, Joe Ida, Steve Magaddino, Pete Madaddino and Tommy Luchese.
Sources informed the FBI that the top leaders in the so-called mafia are in the East principally in New York and New Jersey. Information formed a solid opinion that the word of no man would carry more weight than that of Joseph Zerilli of Detroit. Zerilli would be apt to have the last word in settling any important dispute, whether it be in Detroit, Chicago or New York City. He had risen to the top in Detroit since 1931 and was probably as influential in the whole country as he was in Detroit. Zerilli was soft spoken and never encouraged violence except as a final resort when other methods failed. Zerilli was described as the “court of last resort whose decisions had the effect of law so far as the hoodlums were concerned. He was like the role of Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando in the Godfather. Robert Kennedy commented about the Zerillis, “(Mr. Kennedy) The Toccos and Zerillis are two of the leading gangster families in Detroit, Mich., and in the Michigan area.
The Detroit hoodlums did not enjoy the prestige of hoodlums from Cleveland, Brooklyn, Miami, Chicago and other cities because their racket activities had been confined primarily to the Detroit area. Pete Corrado (deceased) reportedly had an interest in the Desert Inn in Las Vegas and his son Dominic Pete Corrado was believed to still have an interest in it after his death. When Corrado died, Pete Bommarito, brother law of Pete Licavoli, took over the Corrado operations. Tony Tocco, Tony Zerilli and Mike Polizzi had were looking for interests in other states and he said that Vito Giacalone and Mike Polizzi were the negotiators for the sons of Detroit hoodlums inasmuch as both could mix well and meet people.
“The meeting was supposed to be a special secret meeting, but the FBI and the local police had a pretty good idea what it was all about. Maury brought in the Detroit Mafia as hidden owners to put up the money to finish the hotel rooms and the casino. They had over five million dollars invested, so why were Accardo and Ricca called in to be questioned by the Grand Jury? Because my man and Ricca’s boy, Johnny Rosselli, was putting the squeeze on the Detroit family for 15 percent of the Frontier Hotel action. This was a major issue to all concerned and the FBI knew all about it,” said Bernie.
Anthony Giordano was also a hidden owner in the Frontier from St. Louis, Mo. He was a great friend of Dave Goldberg and Erwin Gordon, two of the country’s top bookies at the time. Goldberg and Gordon last worked at the Dunes Hotel in the late sixties and early seventies. Goldberg was especially close to Tony G., as he was called. Giordano was also close to Morris Shenker, who represented Jimmy Hoffa. Jack Shapiro

Friedman, a co-conspirator who testified for the government, and Feil, another witness who testified directly to the illegal involvement of some defendants, offered no evidence implicating Giordano; none of the four government witnesses who might on the prosecution’s theory, have known of Giordano’s involvement in the conspiracy, directly implicated him
Giordano and Zerilli were close friends. Giordano lived in St. Louis, Zerilli in Detroit. There were telephone calls between Giordano’s home and office and Zerilli’s, as well as other calls charged to Zerilli’s credit card and placed to Giordano’s numbers, at various key times in the course of events between June and November, 1967. Giordano knew the Cusumanos and the Sansones in St. Louis. The Sansones did not know Zerilli
The need for additional money, which resulted in the issuance of the Class C debentures Sansone later bought, developed in early June. There were calls between telephones listed to Giordano and Zerilli at that time. Zerilli came to St. Louis for two days on June 8.
The Sansones began gathering money for their VFI investment after Zerilli visited St. Louis, but before the Class C debentures in which they invested were officially issued. They could have learned about the investment possibility only from a person having knowledge of the inner operations of VFI.
In early August, Giordano repaid an overdue loan to the Cusumano family trust. Less than three weeks later, Sansone took out a loan from the same trust. This loan was part of the money Sansone eventually invested in VFI. The Sansone loan was the only business transaction ever consummated between Sansone and the Cusumano family. It was unsecured. Although the VFI debentures in which Sansone invested yielded 4% Interest, the loan from Cusumano was at 7%, an anomaly for which Sansone had no convincing explanation.
The Sansone investment was withdrawn less than 60 days after it was made, after Sansone was told by the Nevada Gaming Commission that he would have to apply for a gaming license, disclose the source of the invested funds, and provide fingerpints. Sansone testified that he withdrew only because, ‘I never anticipated that I would have to be classified as a gambler when I bought the debenture.’ But from the outset the Sansones admittedly knew they were investing in a gambling casino.
Giordano made five trips to Las Vegas between July and November, 1967. The Giordanos have no business interests or relatives in Las Vegas, and Giordano was not a gambler. Each of these trips was closely preceded, or followed, or both, by telephone contact between Giordano telephones and Zerilli telephones or phone calls charged to Zerilli. Each trip coincided with an important event in the unlawful scheme. For example, trips in September and November coincided with the beginning and end of the $150,000 investment.
On September 12 there was a series of phone calls between Zerilli’s home and Giordano’s home and business. The next day, Sansone marshaled the entire $150,000. On that same day there was a call from a Zerilli telephone to Giordano’s telephone. On September 14 Sansone flew to Las Vegas with the money to make the investment. He checked into the Frontier Hotel. Sixteen minutes later, Giordano checked into the Dunes Hotel. Four days later, Sansone deposited the $150,000 in VFI’s account, received the debentures, and left Las Vegas. Giordano departed the following day. In November, a telephone call to Giordano was charged to Zerilli on the same day the Nevada Gaming Commission’s letter was sent to Sansone. Giordano went to Las Vegas on November 9; Zerilli arrived and checked into the Frontier Hotel under an assumed name on November 10; and Sansone arrived on November 11 to complete the withdrawal of the $150,000 investment.
Former local FBI special-agent-in-charge Jim Nelson – deemed by the Supreme Court as an expert on the Mafia- agrees that St. Louis was a second-tier mob city. “Historically, they had access to the (ruling) commission through Detroit. And the Syrian mob was stronger here than the Italians.” John M. McGuire of The Post-Dispatch Staff. St. Louis Post – Dispatch [St. Louis, Mo] 19 Mar 1997: E, 1

Both Michaels and Giordano, along with John J. Vitale, were considered among the last of the big-time, alleged crime-boss figures, not that the so-called mob here was any great shakes, say retired policemen. It was strictly minor league, said one, who spent much of his career stalking these figures. He, too, asked not to be identified.
“We never had mainliners; here they came under the jurisdiction of Chicago,” he said. “Even Kansas City had more of a mob, and more muscle, than St. Louis.”

Years ago, I ran into an old friend who was a former Central Telephone Company installer that I’ll call “Bruce.” I asked Bruce about the FBI wiretaps that were in the Fremont and other places. He really shocked me when he told me that every hotel where he’d done any work had special lines that were identified with a special tag and some special initials written on them. He said when he saw this type of line in the phone room of the casino, he was never to alter or change it. He knew it was some sort of wiretap. It was common knowledge to the installers.

Was the informant Frank “Bomp” Bompensiero? I don’t know for sure, but I knew that he was the informant about the Rosselli shakedown at the Desert Inn. There is also a real good chance that the FBI may have intercepted conversations of Ricca and Accardo about this shakedown attempt.
Let me also tell you about Maury’s plans for the Frontier Hotel. The FBI followed Maury Friedman, who had returned to Los Angeles. In December, 1965, Friedman, Rosselli, and Mal Clarke, who was coming from Palm Springs, were meeting in Los Angeles with people from Chicago regarding the leasing of the New Frontier Hotel. Clarke, John Rosselli, and Maury Friedman were planning to take over the operation of the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas and that Jack Burk had been approached to consider assuming the position of assistant casino manager.
Friedman attempted to interest Steve Wynn, from Baltimore, in buying five points of the New Frontier Hotel for $10,000 per point. Friedman had flown Wynn to Las Vegas for the Clay-Patterson fight for the purpose of then attempting to sell him points in the New Frontier Hotel. Friedman stated that they were going to build a high-rise building at the hotel. Maury had great foresight and was a deluxe salesman. When I say “deluxe,” that is a term we used to refer to a dealer who hustled customers for tips, or tokes as they are referred to. There was something about Maury’s left-handed, and I literally mean left-handed, style that was overpowering. When he would start to get ready to sign his name on a piece of paper, the windup and the get-ready were hypnotic. His hand would start the slow swirl and eventually the pen would gently strike the paper like a perfect three point landing in a tumultuous weather situation. To put it bluntly, he was a master at selling a concept. The notion of a high-rise hotel in Las Vegas may have been the catalyst in Steve Wynn’s creative mind that urged him to also build high-rises. Maybe Maury was like a great marketing professor of gambling, rooms, food, and beverage. Some of his original ideas are still implemented today.
Friedman and Clarke put together a deal to take over the New Frontier Hotel from landlord John McArthur and Lou File, president of Banker’s Trust. An informant advised the FBI early on that it was a foregone conclusion if Friedman did take over the New Frontier Hotel and constructed a high-rise building, that Rosselli would have an interest in the operation
In January 1966, Maurice Friedman, Jack Barenfeld, Mal Clarke, John Rosselli, Abe Phillips; Los Angeles bail bondsman, Lou Mandel, Bill Weiss, real estate investors; Jonie Taps, Music Department of Columbia Pictures, and two Japanese men from Newport Beach had dinner at the Cellar Restaurant on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. The dinner was apparently a meeting for those interested in the leasing of and having points in the New Frontier Hotel. Friedman said Mal Clarke, a former bookie, was going to manage the casino. Friedman apparently sold his points in the New Frontier Hotel to John McArthur, possibly with an option that he could have the first refusal to lease. Harry Karl was also in on the deal, with Barenfeld and Rosselli requesting that a golf course be built in connection with the hotel and that Harry Karl be the president of the golf course. The group also discussed giving one point to the legendary boxer, Rocky Marciano, to use his name in publicity for the hotel. Al Fine, who owned the Cellar Restaurant where they were eating, wanted some points, and the group agreed that they would decide at a later date whether Fine could get two points. Maury had them begging for more, especially when he remarked that “everyone at this dinner had points in the New Frontier Hotel lease.”
Friedman also boasted that he had a piece of Au Petit Jean’s Restaurant and Stefanino’s Trattoria, both in Beverly Hills. The week before, while under the influence, he bragged that he owned a large piece of the Beverly Crest Hotel in Beverly Hills and has had this interest for some time. Friedman just happened to know my pals Jack Cooper and Meyer Lansky. It is a small world.
The target opening date of the New Frontier Hotel was April 1, 1966. Funny, it was April Fools’ Day. Organized crime attorney Sidney Korshak made the statement that the New Frontier Hotel would not get a Nevada gaming license. He was partially right.
Mal Clarke, along with Jack Barenfeld, a clothing manufacturer and real estate investor, real estate investor William Weiss, and T.W. Richardson, a gambler with plenty of experience, would manage the casino. In this arrangement, Friedman had 22 points at $40,000 a point. A source said that McArthur loaned Friedman six million dollars to construct 600 additional rooms.
Friedman was so excited that the New Frontier Hotel would open April 1, 1966, and that they had the money. All they needed was to get the operator’s lease signed. He decided to send his attractive wife, Norma, on an extended vacation to Italy and gave her $10,000 to buy clothes in New York City.
Irving Leff, a close friend of Rosselli, did not have points in the New Frontier Hotel lease, but wanted to buy out Friedman’s interest in the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas. He then decided not to pursue it because he understood Friedman was taking T.W. Richardson and Shelby Williams, who were the operators of the Silver Slipper, under the new lease to run the Frontier Hotel. He believed that this could probably result in the Silver Slipper not having good casino operators and it could conceivably go broke.
Johnny Rosselli had plenty of cards up his sleeve during these years. He had money invested in the shows at the Desert Inn Hotel and the Tropicana Hotel, and also owned a piece of the earnings from the sons of Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Spike Jones, and Frank Sinatra, Jr. How did that happen?
Now here is a bombshell: Rosselli “owns a man named Morrie Seuss at Paramount Studios and also controls Howard Koch, president of Paramount Studios, Jeanne Peters became very friendly with Koch, eventually divorced Howard Hughes and married Koch.
Rosselli had a lot of juice, as it is called, and he used it. He worked on a deal to move Jack Entratter out of the Sands Hotel and into Columbia Studios to produce two pictures.

The more I think about it, the Frontier Hotel was a good example of how intensely the Feds were pursuing the Mob. They messed up a couple of good investments for me, and I had no part of any activities involving the Mob in the Frontier Hotel. We worked our asses off to get the reconstruction done and get the place opened. I knew I had to stay clear of the “wise guys,” and I did so by investing my own money every time, but I still got caught “in the switches.” I guess the old bromide “If you lie down with dogs you’re going to get fleas” bit me in the gluteus maximus.
After it was announced that reconstruction would begin, Maury Friedman carne to me and said, “We have no manager. Do you know anyone?” Of course, I did. That became the beginning of Burton Cohen’s long career in management of Las Vegas Hotels. At the moment, Burton was general manager of the International Airport Hotel System in which I had a five percent interest. I checked with Meyer and Jack Cooper who, as I’ve said, were the major stockholders in I.A.H.S. I didn’t want them to think I was pirating Burton away from them. They gave me the okay to proceed with an offer, so I called Burton and put him in touch with Maury, who was in charge of the management company that would operate the Frontier. After speaking with Burton, Maury came to an agreement with Burton to come aboard.
I’d known Burton for over forty years, beginning in Florida. He was an attorney and the son of a prominent hotel operator in Miami Beach. Burton went on to manage the Thunderbird, Caesars Palace, and finally retired from the Desert Inn. While at the Desert Inn he became quite famous in the seventies as a Vegas hotel owner in the TV drama Las Vegas. I bring up Burton because he was an inadvertent but important player in the Frontier Hotel problem for me. He was perfect for the job. He had a great wit and affability that drew people to him. And he was a very good friend.
Well, we finally got the joint open in 1968. I was a host in the casino and Steve Wynn was in charge of the slot department, but I wished I’d been in charge of the entertainment. We were packed with guests from the beginning despite the fact that Maury really screwed up the entertainment in the show room. I had contacted Tony Bennett and Count Basie before the opening, thinking I was doing a good thing. I went to Maury and told him we could get both, but he evaded me for some time. Finally, he told me he’d already signed a group from Russia in a show entitled Europa. I couldn’t believe it and told Maury he was out of his cotton-picking mind. In spite of being good friends, we had a heated discussion in which I asked him if he had any documentary proof that his mother had ever married his father.
As I predicted, the Europa show was a dismal failure. Nobody wanted to see it. We were giving invitations away by the handful and doing everything imaginable to get people into the showroom. Nothing helped. I went to Maury and said, “The only reason that stupid Cossack show got here was that you must have gotten paid under the table. I’ll bet you never saw the show before you signed their contracts. Nobody in this business could make such a goof if he wasn’t paid to do it.” He didn’t answer me and walked away.
As I said, when you lie down with dogs, you’re going to get fleas. We’d just gotten the place up and running when the Nevada Gaming Commission shut us down due to pressure from the Feds. We were given a deadline of twelve o’clock midnight April 30, 1969, to either sell the place or vacate it.
We later learned that there was a mole at the front desk. A memo was sent out on Burton’s stationery to give VIP treatment to some “wise guys” that the Gaming Control Board had already listed as persona non grata. The mole sent a copy to the Feds and that became the final straw. We also learned about the Feds’ system of wiretaps in several of the Vegas casinos and their ongoing investigation of hidden Mob interests, particularly in the Frontier. The wiretap operation was later reported by Ovid Demaris in his book The Last Mafioso.
As a matter of fact, in March of 1971, Tony Zerilli, Mike Polizzi, Tony Giordano, Peter Bellanca, Art Rooks, and Jack Shapiro were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Los Angeles for concealing hidden interests in the Frontier Hotel. Maury Friedman, T. W. Richardson, Irving ‘Slick’ Shapiro, and Alex Kachinko were “unindicted co-conspirators.” I concluded that these must be the guys Maury Friedman met with in Palm Springs, which I’ve already told you about. I break a sweat every time I think about the grilling I got from the FBI about that meeting.
Maurice Friedman was granted immunity and provided plenty of information to indict Tony Zerilli, Michael Polizzi, and Tony Giordano of having hidden interests in the Frontier Hotel. In July 1972, Zerilli and Polizzi were sentenced to four years and fined $40,000 each. Giordano was sentenced to four years and fined $10,000. All three appealed their convictions and were denied. The three began serving their sentences in 1975. In 1976 they were denied parole.
The following press coverage took place in Los Angeles California in 1970 and 1971 during the period the Federal Grand Jury was hearing testimony relating to the Frontier Hotel case:

The Los Angeles Herald Examiner for May13, 1970 contained the following item,
John Rosselli, 63 of Beverly Hills is due to receive an invitation today for a third appearance before a Federal Grand Jury investigating interstate racketeering, “The dapper silver-haired Rosselli who testified before the panel for three and one-half hours yesterday will be asked tc return next Monday,” according to Assistant U.S Attorney David Nissen.
“During a recess yesterday Rosselli said, ‘I’m doing my best to cooperate A few things are a bit touchy. I just hope I’m doing the right thing you never know.”
He first testified before this Grand Jury on May 1after U.S District Judge Manuel Real granted him immunity from prosecution and ordered him to answer questions.
U.S Attorney Matthew Byrne declined to comment on the specific scope of the Grand Jury probe but it is known that it is focusing on Las Vegas casino activities earlier in the investigation records of the Frontier Hotel sale to billionaire HOWARD HUGHES.
James Cantillon, Rosselli’s attorney revealed that “his client has been questioned about the activities of several racketeering figures including Sam (Momo) Giancana, one time mafia boss of Chicago.”
The Los Angeles Times, May 15 1970: “Alleged underworld figure Johnny Rosselli was ordered again Thursday to answer a Federal Grand Jury’s questions which it was revealed in court deal with secret ‘skimming’ of gambling proceeds by hidden interests in Las Vegas casinos. The nature of the inquiry became known for the first time when ROSSELLI who had been granted immunity from prosecution to testify was returned to court for balking at certain questions. Rosselli stopped answering when the questioning turned to the subject of a meeting at the office of his attorney James Cantillon with Frank La Porte, alleged Chicago mafia figure.
“‘Who was present with you when you and Frank La Porte met at Cantillon’s office?’ he was asked. Rosselli complained he was being set up for a perjury charge and refused to answer any more questions. A record of the proceedings read for U.S District Judge Jesse W. Curtis revealed other questions he refused to answer were, ‘How was the meeting arranged? ‘Did you converse with Frank La Porte at any other location?”
Also read was a statement by Assistant U.S Attorney David Nissen informing Rosselli of the nature of the investigation, “It included possible violations of Federal law involving the holding of hidden interests in Las Vegas casinos and hotels and interstate travel for the removal of ‘skim’ or secretly removed funds.”
Nissen told Judge Curtis it was a ‘very sensitive Case’ and requested that other portions of the Grand Jury proceedings not be made public. Cantillon representing Rosselli charged that it was not a legitimate inquiry. He said, “An affidavit by U.S Attorney Byrne in support of the grant of immunity stated that Rosselli had certain knowledge which would be of aid to the Grand Jury. ‘Then they proceed to cross examine him to elicit from him some testimony which they can subsequently use as a basis for perjury.”
“‘I think they were surprised when he started to testify It is apparent this is not a legitimate inquiry.” Cantillon challenged the government to release the entire transcript of the testimony which he said would bear out his contentions.
NISSEN said, “Cantillon was ‘speaking from ignorance’ rather than knowledge but he offered to let Judge Curtis read privately a transcript of Rosselli’s first day of testimony May 1.”
Judge Curtis retired to his chambers to do so and emerged an hour later with the order that Rosselli must answer the questions. The Judge ruled the Grand Jury appears to be making an investigation in an area it is entitled to probe, and the scope of the inquiry is legitimate. He admonished Nissen that some of the questions asked of Rosselli appeared to deal with his own culpability and no other person’s. He cautioned the prosecutor to be more careful. Nissen contended that all questions related to Rosselli’s knowledge of illegal activities on the part of other persons as well as himself.
Rosselli returned to the Grand Jury room and testified for another 30 minutes then was excused until Tuesday at9:30 AM. At the time Rosselli is appealing convictions for his part in card cheating at the Friar’s Club and for failing to register as an alien.

The Los Angeles Times, July 10 1971, contained the following item:
“Millionaire developer Maurice Friedman has been threatened with death in prison because of testimony he gave the government against underworld figures it was reported
Friday. Friedman was described in Federal court as one of the key witnesses against six men in a corporation charged with a scheme to hide ownership of the Frontier Hotel gambling casino in Las Vegas. Friedman is serving Federal prison terms for his role in the Friar’s Club card cheating case and related offenses. He also is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the hidden ownership case. At a hearing on pretrial motions before visiting U.S District Judge Gus Solomon, the threat on Friedman’s life was disclosed reluctantly by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hornbeck.
Hornbeck said, “Friedman was one of four or five witnesses whose testimony before a Grand Jury should not be released to the defense at this time for fear of reprisals.”
Pressed for explanation as to how a person in Federal custody could be in danger Hornbeck said, “Friedman’s life already has been threatened. As a result, Friedman was moved from the Terminal Island facility to the Lompoc Prison.”

Zerilli, Michael Polizzi, and Tony Giordano were denied parole in 1976.
Johnny Rosselli was murdered in August 1976.
Years later, Freddie Doumani asked me to come over to the Desert Inn. I met him there and he said, “Somebody wants to say hello to you.”
I looked up and it was Michael Polizzi. He hugged me and said, “I am so glad you treated us right.”
Once again I have to say how much I am thankful to Meyer Lansky for keeping me clean of any of the Syndicate’s nefarious operations, but I still got shut down with the rest of them at the Frontier. It was a very good opportunity gone bad through no fault of mine.
This writer concludes that there is a possibility that the mysterious “interviewee” may be indirectly responsible for Rosselli’s murder because Zerilli, Michael Polizzi, and Tony Giordano, who spent their time in jail, were led to believe that Rosselli was the informant.

This is just a theory and there is no evidence to substantiate it, however there is evidence to prove that the interviewee was an informant, and later on in his career assisted the FBI in another major casino-hotel.


Sam Angel & the $500 Chip

Sam Angel was a classic character of all time.  I was first acquainted with Sam while working at the Dunes Hotel.  Sam was a poker player and all around short card hustler in almost every game.  He knew bar bets, propositions and stood there with the best of the bettors and handicappers.  He was a winner of the World Series of Poker and some say a driver for Nick the Greek.

The Dunes Hotel had a very active poker room that offered the typical poker games, plus allowed anyone to get into a heads-up Gin, Call Rummy or Turnover game.  Some real money quickly changed hands in this small but quaint poker hangout.  Before my shift duty in the Baccarat, I always paid a visit to the poker room to see what was going on.  Every major poker hustler in the world would hang out in the Dunes poker room.  Sam practically lived there, except when offering his “unique” brand of men’s and women’s line of first class jewelry.  You name it, he had it.  What was unique to his “suitcase” style presentation, is that the Dunes management would let him put his trinkets on the back side counter of the main Cashier Cage, which was on the way to the Dunes exclusive restaurant, the Sultan’s Table.  The “A” list of who’s who was the base of the clientele as well as every good casino customer at the Dunes.

Sam had no business license, no overhead, and no extra expenses.  Prices were sometimes determined by the amount of gambling bankroll Sam Angel had in his pocket.  If he needed cash, he adjusted the prices of items until a customer purchased it.  All the dealers, floor persons, box men and everyone else at the Dunes always gave Sam their business, as they knew Sam was a bargain compared to a normal retail jewelry store.

Sam would always come by the Baccarat pit and hang out on the rail and entertain us.  He would sometimes say something like this, “It is time to make a bet.”  He would reach into his pocket and pull out a pocket watch the size of a wall clock.  He would look at the time and then say, “Time for a big bet”.  Then he would reach inside his coat pocket and bring out exact printed copies of U.S. currency in all denominations, except that the bills were 10 times the size of a regular bill. He would then walk over to the table and plop down one of these giant notes.  He was funny and the dealers really liked him.

So this one evening it was rather slow and Sam decided he wanted to make a couple of “call” bets in the Baccarat.  He yelled to the dealer from outside the pit, $100 on the bank. The hand was dealt and he lost.  He yelled $500 on the bank, and lost again.  He now come over and sits down at the table and wants to take $5,000 in credit against $50,000 he has on deposit at the casino cage.  I authorized the transaction and he begins playing hard core.  The hands are dealt.  The bank side wins a few hands, the players side wins a couple of hands.  Back and forth the money goes until Sam is really stuck.  We are into his bankroll almost the whole $50,000, except that he has a single $500 chip in his hand, but he owes the house $500 in commission from betting on the bank.  He looks up at me holding the chip, and looking at the $500 vig he owed.  On occasion it is customary to lock up (eliminate) the vigorish if a player loses his money.  So it let him bet his last $500 chip rather than paying the $500 with it..

Guess what?  He won back the entire $50,000.     I never heard the end of this from my bosses.  More on Sam later.


From Wikipedia:  At the 1973 World Series of Poker, Angel won the $1,000 buy-in WSOP Razz event, with its $32,000 prize and bracelet.[2] In 1975, he won a second bracelet and $17,000 in the $1,000 buy-in Razz event.[2]

Angel won a Razz event at the 1981 Super Bowl of Poker, organized by 1972 world champion Amarillo Slim.[3] For this win, he received a prize of $57,000. He cashed in various other tournaments during his career, with tournament winnings over $180,000.

In the 1950s, Angel worked as a driver for Nick “The Greek” Dandalos and began playing poker during this time. He would sometimes sell jewelry to raise money for his poker bankroll. Despite his poker tournament success, Angel was primarily a cash game player during much of his poker career.


Curly, Razz, Kem Cards & the Mob

Curly, Razz, Kem Cards & the Mob.

After being relieved of duty by Morris Shenker at the Dunes Hotel sometime in 1976, Jimmy Newman, a former Sahara stake holder, made the arrangements to get me a job at the Flamingo Hotel. He was a friend of George Duckworth who was the Casino Manager at the Dunes Hotel. I knew Jimmy from the Sahara and it was my cousin Frank Schivo, who was Milton Prell’s protégé that gave Jimmy a big break in the gambling business. Prell was the mastermind of the Sahara, Lucky Strike, Mint and Alladin Hotels. Schivo worked for Prell in Butte, Montana, wherein Prell had a small jewelry-gift shop in a store front and a small casino in the back. Prell and Schivo came to Las Vegas in 1947 and opened the Club Bingo, where the Sahara would be built after the Club Bingo burned to the ground.

In those days, as today, if there was a problem with an employee the word got around and a “jacket” would be put on that employee. The title “jacket” was basically a “bad rap” or “NG”, meaning “No Good” that indicated the employee was not a good risk for the casino. Word got around quickly about someone’s reputation and if a person had a no-hire indication on him or her, it was virtually almost impossible to get a job.

While I was working at the Flamingo and opportunity to buy into a small bar-tavern in Henderson Nevada call the Drug Store Tavern. I later bought out my partner and applied for a Non-restricted Nevada gaming license and opened two blackjack games, one poker, slots, four pool tables, and a 66 foot long bar. I renamed the place Cowboy Gene’s Casino.

It was a grind and I relaxed all the rules for blackjack players which drew the interest of the local card counters. They played right into my apparent slack blackjack rules. It was exactly what I hoped would happen so the buzz travelled around that Cowboy Gene’s was an easy target. They even had published comments about how “easy” the game was in a local “mailman’s blackjack newsletter. If they only knew the real truth. This strategy worked for me and if I was going to open another casino I would do the same thing, but more of it.

One Saturday I arrived early to do some paperwork, do the hard count and make sure everything was in order for the day and evening shift. In walks Curly, who worked in the Dunes high stakes poker games, who still gambled, drank and chased all night after work. Curly would get busted (loose his money gambling) and stop off at my place for a nightcap or to borrow a “Cecil” or two. A Cecil is gambling slang for a one hundred dollar bill. Curly needed some cash and he knew he could always get a bill from me anytime he asked. It was good business. This method or technique is unheard of in today’s casinos. The owners would not give you the time of the day if you needed a quick bill or two. They would never reach in their pocket but rather give a lame excuse that the Gaming Regulations don’t allow the loaning of money to a player without the proper paper work. That is if you can even find an owner in the casino.

So this Saturday morning, Curly coms in to repay me and also throws a deck of Kem playing cards on the bar top and says,

“See if you can see the marks on these cards!”
Curley knew I like the subject of marked cards and all the other gaffs that existed and he looked at me like he was thinking, [“that dumb mother ****** will never figure out this scam.”]

He was right. I picked up the cards and intensely scanned the backs of each card. I flipped the deck like a cartoon flip book looking for the marks to animate. I saw nothing. I was stumped.

He then says, “What are you looking on the backs?”

I did not understand what the heck he meant. Then I looked on the faces and saw nothing as well until Curley pointed the small scratch lines cut into the hair and face on of all the court cards. The court cards are Jack, Queen and King. If you look at the cards the color and design of the hair on each side of the faces can easily disguise the carefully placed marks.

Curley explained that they were used at the Dunes. This method is extremely dangerous in the game of seven card stud low, also called “razz”. This scam has gone undetected for years in many card rooms. When the person dealing places each card to the players, the index finger of the dealing hand can feel the special markings that have been put on the Kings, Queens and Jacks. The dealer can then signal the value of the player’s hole card. The cards are usually marked with an exacto knife very precisely along the hairlines. The slightest groove will enable the dealer to distinguish whether the card is a big one or a little. There are 12 cards that can be altered which will give the cheat a big advantage.

Curley told me that he worked for Anthony Spilotro and others, taking off many high rollers.