Springfield Sam Strikes Again

In all the years I worked in Las Vegas I was only harassed by only one want-to-be mob lackey, and only once physically by a legitimate member of organized crime. I went to work at the Dunes Hotel in 1968, when I was 22 years old and in top physical condition. My job was dealing blackjack and sometimes dealt the wheel (Roulette). After six months, I was transferred to the Baccarat Pit. I made a new set of friends that came from many different parts of the country and even from different countries. After Cuban casinos were shut down by Castro many Casino dealers came to Las Vegas to seek jobs. Several of the Dunes owners had investments in Cuba and knew these dealers and supervisors as good hard working employees which led to many of them getting employment at the Dunes Hotel.

A Dunes job was extremely hard to get for several reasons; 1) it was lucrative and 2) you basically had to know someone at the Dunes, or just get luck and get hired when they desperately in need of good croupiers. Mant people sought just a few positions that became available. However this type of nepotism was really not mandated because the person was known or related to someone at the Dunes, but more of having confidence in the employee that they presumed that he or she knew not to steal and keep your nose clean.

At 22, I was one of the youngest Baccarat dealers ever to work at the Dunes. Most of my coworkers were in their mid-thirties and older. It was lucrative because your tips were pooled 24/7, 365 days a year, and the supervisors had an equal share. Having the bosses in on the tokes, sometimes called zooks (tips), allowed the dealers to be a little more liberal in the cultivation of players. In other words we were allowed to hustle. And did we have some “Deluxe” hustlers.

The Baccarat Manager, Irwin Gordon, had just finished a Federal jail term for bookmaking. He was very close to Sid Wyman, a Dunes owner. (This is a story for another time) he was a character and an old school gambler. If you knew your job and could handle people well, and didn’t act like a wise guy, he liked you, otherwise good luck.

I was dating the cocktail waitress that serves the pit and Gordon liked to rib me because I had longer hair than all the rest of the employees. He would borrow a comb and get behind the dealers and try to comb my hair making a remark like, “Look at the beau-tee-ful hair on this young dealer”, in his native Brooklynese accent. He thought it was funny, because I was the youngest and could get away with it. The girl I dated was standing that afternoon and observed his actions and I just snapped. Very quietly and calmly turned to him and said so no one else could her me, “You do that again and I will knock you on your ass.”
‘Oh my gosh’, I thought. What did I say? I am going to be fired right on the spot. No one ever talked to this man like I just did. I panicked.

Nothing happened except that he stopped the stupid razzing and treated me like a king thereafter. He even promoted me to Floorman after a few years.
But while I was a dealer, my friend Dominic wanted to get into the Baccarat pit. I helped him in every way that I could and realized that he worked at the Dunes long before I received the job. His dad was a mob guy that hung around the place and associated with the Boston junkets. His name was Sam Manarite, also called Springfield Sam.

He was playing 21 one afternoon and his son Dominic was dealing on the table next to him. Dominic got into a beef with an unruly player and there were some words. The player was another wise guy and Sam heard the action. He jumped right into the middle of the argument and before you blinked an eye they got physical. The player was about to really hurt Sam, when Dominic set the deck down and came around the table to help his dad. The cocktail waitress had a coffee pot on her tray and standing right at the table serving drinks. Dominic grabbed the pot and hit the player over the top of the head. The fight was broken up eventually and Dominic went back to work like nothing happened. Can you imagine today what would happen?

Later that year I was walking into the coffee shop for a 20 minute break and Sam Manarite started walking next to me and started saying, “You better get Dom into the Baccarat or you won’t be to happy.”
He grabbed me by the collar, shoved me up against the wall and repeated the remark. I pushed him off and he walked away like nothing happened. Someone saw the incident, and I was asked what happened by Gordon. I never had another problem with Manarite again, and in fact never saw him around the Dunes again. And Dominic never had a chance to work the Baccarat pit.
Here is a story about Sam that appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal:
Saturday, October 05, 2002
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Witnesses absent; hearing delayed in car lot shooting

84-year-old known as `Springfield Sam’ faces attempted murder
charges in incident


Two witnesses were not in court Friday to testify
against “Springfield Sam” Manarite, an 84-year-old reputed mobster
with a criminal record dating back six decades.

Manarite, a bushy-haired, hunched-over senior, appeared before Las
Vegas Justice of the Peace Pro-Tem Nelson Segel. The preliminary
hearing was supposed to determine whether evidence supports sending
Manarite to District Court on charges he shot up the Astro Auto
Sales office Sept. 9, wounding the business’s owner.

But at the opening of the hearing, Clark County Chief Deputy
District Attorney Victoria Villegas said the two victims in the
case, Astro owner Dino Boggiano and co-worker John Pasqualone, were

“They are essential witnesses,” Villegas said. “They are not here
and they were aware of today’s hearing.”

Defense attorney James “Bucky” Buchanan immediately asked that the
charges against Manarite, which include counts of attempted murder
and ex-felon in possession of a firearm, be dismissed. Buchanan told
the judge his client acted in self-defense at the time of the

Instead, Segel granted a request from Villegas to delay the hearing
until Oct. 15.

“We have severe charges here,” Segel said. “Whether he was the
initial shooter or if he acted in self-defense, this is a serious

The unusual courtroom developments were the latest in Manarite’s
exposure to criminal prosecutions. Villegas said Manarite has prior
felony convictions dating back to the 1940s in several states,
including Connecticut, New York and, more recently, in Nevada.

Those convictions include assault with a deadly weapon, money
laundering, conspiracy, transporting obscene materials and
supporting perjury. In 1970, he was convicted of extortion in New
York, where the judge called him “the ultimate manifestation of
success for criminals.”

He was sentenced to a 15-year prison term.

In 1984, Manarite acknowledged in federal court in Las Vegas that he
was engaged in loan-sharking and that he paid someone to pour acid
in someone else’s eyes. Shortly before Manarite was sentenced to 10
years in prison, defense attorney Richard Wright predicted his
client would die in prison.

He was released, then sent back to prison for a chip-cashing scheme
at the Maxim and a series of California boat thefts. In 2001, he was
unexpectedly released from prison early.

On Sept. 9, Las Vegas police say Manarite stormed into Astro Auto
Sales at 1430 S. Main St., near Charleston Boulevard, and opened
fire. A motive has not been determined, but Buchanan confirmed that
Manarite’s son had purchased a car there.

Boggiano was shot in the wrist. Boggiano returned fire, wounding
Manarite in the shoulder.

Buchanan said Friday that if the hearing had not been delayed,
Manarite would have taken the witness stand to tell his side of the

“My client fired only in self-defense,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan also said he would have produced a witness to support
Manarite’s version of events.

“We also deny that he has any association with the mafia at all,”
Buchanan said.

Even if the charges had been dismissed against Manarite, he wouldn’t
have been released. Federal officials have placed a hold on
Manarite, alleging his possession of a firearm during the shooting
constituted a violation of parole.

Buchanan said that on the day of the shooting, Manarite didn’t
actually own a firearm. He said he happened to find a gun in an
alley and, knowing that Boggiano was a gun collector, Buchanan said
his client was simply “going to give the gun to Dino.”

Boggiano did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Only at the Dunes.

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