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Morris Shenker – Derlachter – Recrion & Mob

Derlachter Recrion Shenker Mob

Mafia Recruiting

Recruiting Members

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.


Johnny Hicks & the movie Casino

I recently saw the movie Casino, which is one of my favorites for many reasons. Every time I watch the movie, I recall my friend Johnny Hicks. We broke in the gambling business at the same time in downtown Las Vegas. Here is a piece about Johnny Hicks I wrote awhile back that you may find interesting reading.

Martin Scorcese presents a better than average portrait of Las Vegas as it existed in the late 60’s and 70’s. Many parts of this movie are based on actual events and real people. One of the characters in the movie played by James Woods is Lester Diamond, Sharon Stone’s boyfriend. Lester Diamond in real life was my longtime friend, John Hicks, son of gaming pioneer Marion Hicks.

There are many other characters in the movie that I had met or worked with in Las Vegas, either at the Dunes or at the Stardust, the real name of the feigned Tangiers run by Robert De Niro. The Algiers Hotel; notice the term Hotel and not Hotel Casino. Lacking a “casino” suffix name because it was sans gambling.

The Algiers was built next to the infamous Thunderbird Hotel, by a partnership of Marion Hicks and others. The others? I will get to that in a minute, but first a little background and facts on Johnny Hicks.

I first met John when I was “breaking in” in the gambling business while working at the California Club. The California Club was built on First Street and Fremont and was just a small casino with four blackjack tables, two craps, one wheel and about 140 slot machines, keno, a snack bar and a very comfortable bar with 50 stools that sat adjacent to the pit. Every rounder, thief and booster called it home. The bartender Big Bob was a weightlifter-bodybuilder around 65 years of age (in 1966) who would shake your hand and about break it until you smiled!

What a place to work. The eye in the sky and on the floor, which we called the eye in the rug, was an old time cheat from Montana, Mike Sarkis. Mike was an expert cold deck operator that worked with many teams. He was hired at the California Club because the owners reasoned “it takes a thief” to catch a thief. They were right as long as you can control the thief. Mike would sit at the bar and watch a blackjack game and count the deck down using a special count of the most important cards for the dealer. If a player was beating us we shuffled or continued dealing down to the bottom of the deck and then reshuffling when cards were still in play on the table. On the contrary we would deal maybe just one hand or two and then shuffle. The theory keeping the most important cards for the dealer in play and the most important cards for the player out of play.

The most important cards for the dealer are first the five, then the six and the four, in that order. If a player sat down and in the first round the fives, and sixes came out, and no aces, Mike would give me the signal to shuffle. If the cards weren’t shuffled the chances of the dealer busting and a player getting a blackjack increase.

Johnny Hicks was also breaking in across the street at Binion’s Horseshoe Club. The Horseshoe was a popular place to gamble, had great food and offered guests a photo opportunity of standing in front of $1 million dollars. They would pose for the free picture, and then have to wait around for the print. A great way of inducing the tourist to gamble.

It was well known on the streets that you better not get caught cheating the house at the Horseshoe, otherwise you might get roughed up. It is alleged (told to me by the Horseshoe Casino Manager) that a dealer was handcuffed on a water pipe for stealing, however he did not steal from the house as suspected, he actually cheated a player. He remained there for several days. When the owner found out he did not steal from the house, she let him go. In other words this type of casino management discouraged stealing.

Hicks was a friend of the Binions and they allowed him to learn the games at the Horseshoe. Bucky Howard was the shift boss at the California Club and his dad Buck Sr. was a floor man at the Horseshoe. Buck senior’s relative was Ma Beachie from Phenix City, Alabama. Hard core gamblers. Hicks would drop in occasionally and I was introduced.

Las Vegas was still a small town and we all socialized after work. Hicks and I became great friends. He had a Cadillac Eldorado convertible and was the man about town. Many of us would frequent the Copa Lounge, Bourbon Street (downtown) and Dirty Sallys. Dirty Sally’s sat at the corner of the Las Vegas strip and Spring Mountain Road. Now the site of the Venetian Hotel. Dirty Sally’s had live music and one single blackjack game with a $10 limit. A great game for suckers. A few of the dealers were bust-out artists. This was not a game to bet serious money.

Hicks had to leave town for a few days and he asked me to take his car to the Cadillac dealer for servicing. Wow, what a chance. I was 21 and I could drive his convertible around town and meet some cHicks. So I thought. That morning I took his car in for service, I was in the service line. There was a car in front of me and it moved up and I moved up. I was not real familiar with the pedals and I pushed on the gas instead of the brake to slow down. I rear-ended the car in front of me. This dwarf (little person) with a mid-eastern accent and speech impediment jumped out of the car yelling and screaming. I was horrified. I put about $1,000 damage into John’s car and about $500 to the other car. John would never stop ribbing me about the incident. He thought it was hilarious. I paid off every penny. Not so hilarious.

Hicksie, as his friends would call him, was a real rounder. He loved the women, golf, gambling, drinking and telling old stories about his dad and Meyer Lansky. One morning about 3:00 am I got a knock on my door and it was John. He had been out and was in the neighborhood. He stopped by to show me his dad’s personal pistol. It was a small .25 cal. Handgun. He said his dad carried it all the time. John wanted me to see it shoot. (We were pretty stupid 21 and 24 year olds) I told John we can’t go outside because it would wake up all the neighbors. So we decided to shoot at a target in my fireplace. Pretty lame.

The following is an excerpt from the Nevada Tax Commission:

“From information available to the members of the commission (including the reports of the United States Senate committee upon organized crime, commonly known as the Kefauver committee) it is apparent that among the figures recognized as prominently active in unlawful gambling beyond the borders of this state and in nationally organized crime are the Lansky brothers, Meyer and Jake (also known as Jack). The former, in particular, is recognized to occupy a position of leadership in organized crime.

George Sadlo, whose residence for some time prior to the hearing had been at the Thunderbird hotel, is a close personal friend and gambling associate of Jake Lansky. They have operated together in management of gambling enterprises in Florida. Sadlo and Hicks are close personal friends. In 1947 Hicks borrowed $160,000 from George Sadlo. The money was borrowed for use by the hotel corporation in the construction of the Thunderbird hotel and was used for that purpose. At the time of the hearing before the commission it appeared that Jake Lansky had shared with Sadlo in the making of this loan.

Hicks denied any knowledge of Lansky’s participation. In 1954 the loan was repaid to Sadlo by Hicks. In 1948 Hicks borrowed $37,500 from Sadlo for use by the gambling partnership. The money was used in the “bankroll” of the gambling operation, the fund which assures ability to meet gambling losses. There is no evidence that Lansky participated in this loan. The loan was repaid by Hicks in 1952. Hicks never reported to the tax commission that either Sadlo or Lansky held any interest in the hotel corporation or in the gambling partnership. The ultimate conclusion reached by the tax commission was that respondents Hicks and Jones were unsuitable persons to hold gambling licenses.”

Pretty interesting associates I would venture to say. Hicks also built the Algiers Hotel next to the Thunderbird Hotel, however there was no gambling because of his unsuitability to hold a gaming license. The General Manager of the Algiers for many years was Jack Walsh, who worked directly for Hicks. The following is an obituary than ran in the Las Vegas Sun:

“Jack Walsh, who as a former Nevada Gaming Commission member helped guide the state into the modern era of gaming, and as general manager of the historic Algiers hotel helped preserve the flavor of old Las Vegas, has died. He was 81.
“He was on the commission at an important time in the late 1970s when we were running the mob out of town,” said local certified public accountant George Swarts, who served on the commission with Walsh.

“He was a man of few words, but Jack was tough on them (alleged mob figures trying to get into local gaming) and voted against them. He had a consistent interest to clean up gaming. The reason you don’t have that element today is because of men like Jack.”

Fellow board member and retired Reno attorney Peter Echeverria agreed.
“My fondest memory of Jack is the way he would recite the instance of the applicant who came up for a gaming license,” Echeverria said. “Jack would inquire around town — he knew everyone in town — and would get the skinny on the applicant that he would present (at the board meetings).
“Jack was really good at that (doing his homework). An applicant couldn’t just come before the board, say something and walk away. He had to prove it because Jack generally would have the stuff to refute it.”

Born Dec. 6, 1914, in Tonopah, Walsh moved to Las Vegas in 1941, the year the United States entered World War II.
Soon after, Walsh joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific. After the war, he returned to Las Vegas and joined the Nevada Highway Patrol at a salary of $150 a month.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, Walsh served as a department head for the Highway Patrol and for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

In 1961, Walsh took a job he would relish for the rest of his life: general manager of the Algiers. The small hotel was built on the north end of the Strip to handle overflow guests of the Thunderbird, which later became the Silverbird, the new El Rancho, and now is closed.

Walsh served as the Thunderbird’s general manager in the late 1950s.

For the past 35 years, Walsh, wearing his ever-present white tamoshanter and smoking his ever-lit pipe belching honey cavendish, was as much a fixture at the Algiers as the chandeliers and tiffany lamps that adorn the ceilings and walls of the old hotel.
“He and his wife both lived on the property since the very beginning so he was just the lifeblood of the Algiers,” said Marianne Kifer, the owner of the Algiers and the daughter of Marion and Lillian Hicks, who built the Thunderbird and the Algiers.
“He knew everything and knew an awful lot of people in town.”
It was Gov. Mike O’Callaghan who in 1973 named Walsh to the Nevada Gaming Commission, the legislative body charged with the final authority in matters relating to gaming in the state.
Walsh would continue to serve during the administrations of Gov. Robert List and Gov. Richard Bryan, finally retiring in 1985.
“Jack was as steady as a rock,” O’Callaghan said. “His knowledge of Nevada’s history and people made him invaluable when making gaming policy. No matter how heated a debate became, Jack never lost his composure and he always sought common-sense solutions to problems.”

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who served with Walsh for four years on the Gaming Commission, also praised Walsh “as an institution in Nevada.”
Reid said Walsh expressed “genuine concern for the men and women who keep our hotels and casinos running.”
“The dealers, valets and waiters meant just as much to him as the top executives,” Reid said. “He loved Nevada and he loved the people who make Nevada such a vibrant place to live and work. I will miss Jack and so will the whole state.”
Walsh’s reputation for finding simple, workable solutions to complex problems was reflected in the way he managed the Algiers.

When a reporter asked Walsh in 1995 why he kept a turn-of-the century look at the Algiers through the years, he replied: “I like it. A lot of people like it … There haven’t been any big changes. Just pictures and paint.”

This is an interesting irony. Walsh’s boss was unsuitable for gaming, yet Walsh was a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. That is how Las Vegas ran.

Johnny gave me a very special photo that was given to him by his father and Meyer Lansky’s partner, George Sadlo. Sadlo et al had owned a casino in Mexico. It was fully functional with table games and a sports and race book. Sadlo had a panoramic picture taken of the operation that is priceless. If you look real close on the boards in the sports book, you can see the price for the Willard-Johnson heavyweight boxing match in 1916. This picture has never been published however I will provide a link to it down the road.

I still have this picture in my office.

Here is a link to the location of the actual fight:…/Panorama-of-Willard—Jo…

The fight was in Havana were Lansky and Sadlo eventually operated casinos.

I left the California Club and went to work at the Dunes Hotel in December of 1969. I thought I hit a jackpot. Then six or seven months later I was transferred to baccarat. This was like winning an academy award. This just was not an everyday occurrence. Most of the baccarat dealers were over 35 years of age. I was a mere 22. Dealers had worked at the Dunes for years hoping to get a chance at baccarat. It was virtually impossible. That year the United States put a man on the moon. Life magazine decided to do a pictorial of the gentry watching this historical onetime event. One of the picture locations decided upon was the Dunes baccarat pit. Here is a link to the picture of the Dunes baccarat pit with myself standing/sitting on the table watching the moonwalk.

There is a whole story that will be posted down the road about the characters in this picture. See the floor man on the right, sitting on a ladder chair? He could not be fired from the Dunes Hotel. His wife owned a bar in New York that Fidel Castro and his brother would frequent while they were college students in New York.

Look at the actual currency on table. We dealt the game with it. The $500 checks (chips) were only used on occasion. I will tell another story about paper scams (cash), dealing seconds and Dai Vernon, down the road.

After six years as a baccarat dealer I was promoted to floor man. This was as good as it got. You received an excellent salary and a full share of the tokes.

Hicks would visit me at the Dunes and tell me what was going on in his world and occasionally I would stop by his house in the Las Vegas Country Club. He lived near Lefty Rosenthal and his wife Geri. Rosenthal was the executive at the Stardust that gave Siegfried and Roy their big break. Here is a link to some photos of Lefty, Geri, Spilotro (played by Joe Peci), Siegfried and Roy and others:…

Hicks had told me that he was seeing Geri and that they (Hicks and Geri) took the contents of Lefty’s box and went on a spree.
One evening I was invited to John’s place and hung out awhile. John, Pete Griffith, a craps dealer I had known from the Sahara, two or three cute girls and myself. After a few stories etc, I left. A few days later John was murdered either leaving or coming to his home. He was shot behind the ear with a 22 pistol. I tried to contact Pete, but was told by a mutual friend that he left without a trace, indicating he may have seen who had shot John. This mutual friend indicated that Pete was scarred “shitless”. I haven’t seen or heard from Pete since then.

I didn’t go to the funeral, because I was concerned that Pete may have been killed also. I thought that they might have been following Johnny around and that they might be still looking for Pete, and maybe anyone that hung out at his house, including me. I regret that I didn’t t have the guts to pay my last respects to my friend.

Remember the movie casino? John was portrayed in the movie as Sharon Stone’s boyfriend. He was beat up and then tossed into the El Dorado. The famous El Dorado. The movie didn’t tell the truth or get into the area of concern as to who killed Johnny.

After some research a certain reporter said the following:


Nice to hear from you. Most of my information on Johnny Hicks’s final days comes through his running mate at the time.

I think everything you stated about Hicks is right on the money. I think Tony killed him, or perhaps he had Joey Hansen or one of his other friends do it. Cullotta was never suspected of it to my knowledge.

It’s interesting. My knowledge of Cullotta is pretty fair, and I don’t think he was often used as a hitter. He is called a hit man, of course, and I don’t doubt he participated in several murders. He also admitted shooting Jerry Lisner in Las Vegas. But other people in Spilotro’s crew have told me Cullotta wasn’t trusted like some of the other guys. He worked hard to get involved with Tony and worked his way next to him. That irked a lot of Tony’s loyal friends (Blitzstein, etc.)

But as to the Hicks murder, it certainly would have been Tony depending on how much heat was on him at the moment. He was quite clever, switching cars, wearing disguises, etc.

As to specifically who pulled the trigger, I will ask Cullotta when he’s available again.

It’s funny. Spilotro, the Italian-American, was the mob guy. But what does that make all the casino executives who catered to him or turned a blind eye to his activity?

In this town, the ability to dummy up has been raised to an art form.

Your friend, “

Years later a dealer friend of mine from the Dunes, Gene Strolien, called me and said that he was taking a guy around that was making this motion picture about Las Vegas. Gene was familiar with my work and wanted to have the “guy” watch me go through the moves.

I was in my first store at the MGM Grand in about 1994 when Gene and “guy” stopped in unannounced. He introduced me but it went right over my head. I did the moves and we briefly talked but I was busy with customers that day. Gene and I talked and he said I was too clean cut looking for the part in what was going to be the movie “Casino”. But if the topic of Johnny Hicks came up, Scorsese would have dug deeper and probably talked for hours. Gene did not know that I knew John Hicks, nor did I know that John would be a character in the movie.

Little did I realize that it was Martin Scorsese that auditioned me.

In the movie they have a scene wherein Hicks (Lester Diamond) is roughed up and thrown in his car. This did not happen in real life. Instead of the beating, they murdered Hicks.

Wingy, Frank and Jerry Zarowitz

Wingy, Frank and Jerry Zarowitz
The Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe was a beautiful resort hideaway that was the vacation home and get away to many legendary notables of the screen, stage, politics, business world and the mob, including Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Sam Giancana and many more. The Cal Neva had several names and various operators since the inception in the 1930s. Then the tide changed in 1955 when a group headed by Bert “Wingy” Grober bought the resort. Grober’s successes included Wingy’s Inn in Philadelphia and the Park Avenue Steak House in Miami Beach. His supplier for liquor and steaks in Miami was Joe Kennedy, his lifelong friend and father of President John F. Kennedy. During John Kennedy’s campaign for the presidency, his father, Joe, spent a great deal of time at the Cal Neva Lodge, where he kept a low profile. Robert Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, Teddy Kennedy and Peter Lawford and his wife, Patricia Kennedy, also spent much time during the campaign at the Cal Neva Lodge. They also visited the North Shore Club frequently and made and received calls there.
Bert “Wingy” Grober, was also one of the bosses/owners of Caesars Palace, and was an interesting front man for the boys. Wingy had a handicap, born with one arm shorter and deformed, which resulted in the juvenile nickname acquired when he was a young boy in New Jersey. He bought a successful restaurant in Miami Beach, were all the high rollers and wise guys hung out. He got a big start by winning more than $250,000 at the dice table, on the streak of luck the legendary columnist Walter Winchell had, throwing 15 consecutive passes. Winchell frequently mentioned Wingy in his nationally syndicated column. Incidentally, it all happened in Miami Beach at Meyer Lansky’s Greenacres casino. There is some speculation that Lansky may have “helped” Wingy win the money so he could establish him as a legitimate front man. A Nevada casino operator ran afoul of the law and opened the door for Wingy to purchase the Cal-Neva Lodge Casino at Lake Tahoe. Frank Sinatra worked at Wingy’s for a paltry $10,000 a week.
Sinatra publicly bought the Cal Neva resort in 1960 through his company, Park Lake Enterprises. Initially, he owned 25 percent of the property with Hank Sanicola and Paul “Skinny” D’Amato who each held 13 percent. Other smaller shareholders included Dean Martin. Chicago mobster Sam Giancana was said to be a silent partner in the business; D’Amato acted as Giancana’s man. Sinatra gradually expanded his ownership of the Casino; by 1962 he owned more than 50 percent share, with Sanicola holding 33 percent and Sanford Waterman owning the remaining shares. Waterman was connected to other unidentified and unconfirmed associates, but one for sure was Jerry Zarowitz. Waterman was a high lama at the Sands Hotel after leaving the Cal Neva. (The photograph depicts Nevada Senator Howard Cannon, Sandy Waterman, Congressman Allan Bible and Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer.) Sanford (Sandy) Waterman was the real boss at the Sands for unnamed persons.
Jerry Zarowitz was convicted of trying to fix a football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants in 1946 and also operated a gambling joint in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Zarowitz, who participated in a Little Appalachian meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., and worked briefly for Clifford and Stuart Perlman after they purchased Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas ‘strip’, became the target of intensive questioning by members of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Zarowitz was, at one time, indicted by the federal government after agents raided locked boxes at Caesars Palace and confiscated over 1.5 million in cash.
‘When I bought the hotel he was running it, apparently with the knowledge of the Nevada gaming people,’ said Perlman. ‘He (Zarowitz) applied for a gambling license and then withdrew the application when advised he would not be licensed. He was then asked to leave Caesars Palace.’
The Nevada Gaming Control Board questioned Perlman as to why he hired Sandy Waterman as casino manager to succeed Zarowitz. Waterman ultimately also ran into trouble with federal investigators.
Perlman told the board he needed a man who understood casino operations at Caesars Palace because he and his brother were novices. He said Waterman was hired at the recommendation of the former owners, to whom Perlman owed $30 million at the time. Both Zarowitz and Waterman left Caesars Palace in the early 1970s.
Waterman had an altercation with Frank Sinatra in the Baccarat Pit at Caesars Palace, with Waterman getting arrested after pulling a gun on Sinatra. In a local Las Vegas newspaper an eyewitness to the event made this statement:
Longtime Las Vegan Fred Soskin read the mention in Monday’s column of Frank Sinatra’s altercation at Caesars Palace in 1970 and called to offer some finer details.

“I was a baccarat dealer at Caesars at the time,” said Soskin, a local real estate agent. “I was five feet away.

“When Sinatra came into the baccarat pit, he had to declare whether he was playing his own money or whether he was shilling, sitting down and playing with the house money to draw other players. Whenever he sat down, within five minutes all four tables would be filled with players.

“This was between shows. He got lucky and won $50,000. When he got up to leave, he put the $50,000 in his pocket and was walking away. Larry Snow, who was the boss of the baccarat at the time, said, `Hold on a minute, Mr. Sinatra. When you came in you said you were shilling.’

“In these days, you had to be very careful because he was a walking time bomb.

“He claimed he was using his own money. He used some profanities. In the meantime they called Sandy Waterman, who was the main mob front guy who was running Caesars. He walked in the pit and pulled a gun out of his shoulder holster and put a gun to Sinatra’s head and used some profanity in asking for the money back.

“Sinatra turned as white as you can imagine. He reached in his pockets and pulled out the fifty thousand, all wrapped up in rubber bands, handed it over and walked out of the pit area.”
ED NOTE: There are other versions of what actually occurred however. One version alleges that Sinatra lost his money and wanted more credit. The Baccarat floor man on duty called his boss, Waterman, and said “Frank wants more money.” Sinatra’s longtime buddy-comedian Corbett Monica heard the floor man say “Frank” and retorted, “What do you mean Frank? He is Mr. Sinatra to you!.” This steamed up Frank and Waterman came into the pit and an argument started. It is reported that an exchange of unpleasant words between the two, followed by Sinatra grabbing Waterman by the throat. Waterman reacted by pulling a gun on him.
There was no love loss between the Waterman and Sinatra, and for that matter Zarowitz did not like Sinatra either. Waterman and partners blamed Sinatra for all the unnecessary “heat” brought on by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. These problems were basically ignited when Sinatra hosted Chicago Outfit member, Sam Giancana. The Cal Neva owners were forced to sell a property that was a good money maker and ran under the radar until the Giancana incident.
In Anthony Summers & Robbyn Swan’s book, Sinatra: The Life, they report about an incident. “The retirement (meaning Sinatra’s retirement) announcement, moreover, came a few months after another violent confrontation between Frank and a casino official, this time at Caesars Palace. The mob had failed to back him up.”
Here is what actually happened and told to me by a source which I have known for 35 years plus. This man was also small owner in Caesars Palace. Jerry Zarowitz really liked my friend. He told me this story as an eyewitness to the incident.
“One early evening Zarowitz came by the casino and said come on, we are going up to Sinatra’s room. He doesn’t want to go on. The showroom is full and they just had dinner. Our customers won’t like this. Let’s go see what the problem is. We went to his suite and Zarowitz told Sinatra that the showroom is full and the customers just finished dinner and were waiting for him to perform. He asked Sinatra why he wasn’t going on. Sinatra replied, “Because I don’t feel like it!”
Zarowitz got red and lost his temper. He looked at me and said, “Open the sliding glass door.” Frank’s longtime friend, Jilly Rizzo jumped up and Zarowitz, yelled at him, “Sit down or you’re dead!”
Zarowitz pointed his finger at Frank and said, “You’re going on and you’re going to do two encores or I am going to throw you off the balcony!” Sinatra got up and went down stairs and did the show. We waited in the other side of the wings and saw him do the encores. I was as nervous as hell as a witness to this incident. This story has never been told anywhere.
My associate also wanted it known that little was known to the public about Jerry Zarowitz. He was a kind, thoughtful, and standup individual who would always be on the side of the “little guy” or average working man. He would spend as much or more time talking with a bus boy as he would a hotel president. He really cared about what people had to say. If he liked you, there is nothing he wouldn’t do for you.

Geno Munari

Jimmy Hoffa

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.

Sam Angel

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.

The Frontier Hotel


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.

Dice Scam at the Dunes Hotel in 1967

Dice Scam at the Dunes Hotel in 1967.
Here is one out of my notebook for you.
This happened at the Dunes Hotel on Friday the 13th. hahah.
This story appeared only once.
In the story, $500,000 was lost in the play. This amounts to over $3,500,000 in today’s dollars, based on the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States government.
I don’t think this method was ever tipped in any books or videos previously, but ICobalt Dice News_Journal_Fri__Nov_17__1967_
 may be mistaken.
I have reason to believe that the device is still out there……