From 2008: Longtime Las Vegas high roller Jimmy Chagra died in Arizona last week. He gambled millions and was accused of putting a hit on a federal judge. In his life, he only granted one on-camera interview -- George Knapp of the I-Team tells us what Chagra had to say.More>>
Tuesday, February 14 2012 7:19 PM EST2012-02-15 00:19:21 GMT
From 1982: Mobster Frank Cullotta was one of Tony Spilotro's inner circle. He joined Spilotro's crew back in Chicago then moved to Las Vegas when Tough Tony was sent here to control street rackets and protect the casino skimming operation.More>>
Casino executive Frank Lefty Rosenthal (the Ace Rothstein character in Casino, played by Robert Deniro) exited a restaurant on E. Sahara on the evening of October 5, 1982, climbed into his late-model Cadillac, and was nearly blown to bits by a car bomb that had been placed under the vehicle.More>>
One of the largest Mafia trials in American history is slated to begin in Chicago in May, and a key witness could be a former killer and thief who roamed Las Vegas during the heyday of the local mob. Frank Cullotta talked with the I-Team's George Knapp. Watch the extended interview.More>>
At least 18 unsolved gangland murders could finally be solved. One former Las Vegas mobster says he's ready to tell the court what he knows about those crimes. Frank Cullotta has been in hiding for 25 years but he surfaced long enough to give an exclusive interview to the I-Team's George Knapp. Watch the extended interview.More>>
The mafia is supposedly long gone from Las Vegas casinos, but does that mean they've left town altogether? Hear the fascinating stories of Tony the Butcher for the first time anywhere in exclusive reports form the I-Team's George Knapp.More>>
A former mob associate who helped the FBI infiltrate organized crime enterprises in both Las Vegas and New York is living in an undisclosed location and under a new name because a lawman leaked his name in court. Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp has an interesting footnote to the life of a mob associate.More>>
When gangsters with Gotti's crime family heard about a mysterious black box device being used to steal from escort companies, they sent a fearsome crew to town to fix the problem. The person most responsible for stopping them is a former mob associate who gave his first and only interview to the I-Team's George Knapp.More>>
"The Outfit" once had considerable control of casinos and street rackets in Las Vegas. Now, the remaining bosses will be prosecuted for eighteen unsolved murders. Among the witnesses will be former mob soldiers, including one time Las Vegas hitman Frank Cullotta.More>>
Jury selection begins in what might qualify as the last great Mafia trial in America. The last remnants of Chicago's crime family "The Outfit" are charged with numerous murders and other felonies. It's a trial with many Las Vegas connections. More>>
LAS VEGAS -- Although the state legalized gambling in 1931 it wasn't until a decade later, when mobsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky rolled into town, that organized crime took root in Las Vegas. Here are many of the seminal events that helped Las Vegas establish its mob connections.
1946 -- Siegel, an associate of the Genovese crime family, opened the Flamingo hotel with financial backing from Lansky. The following year Siegel was shot to death in his girlfriend's home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
1950 -- Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, heading a Senate committee investigating organized crime, conducted a hearing in Las Vegas. Among those who gave testimony was Clark County Alderman Moe Sedway, an associate of Lansky and the Genovese crime family.
The Desert Inn opened on the Strip with Cleveland gangster Moe Dalitz, a racketeer and bootlegger, serving as its owner but remaining behind the scenes. He would later become a pillar of the community by helping construct Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center and the Las Vegas Country Club.
1951 -- Anthony Brancato, a hitman for the mob, and fellow criminal Tony Trombino robbed $3,500 from the Flamingo, only to be found shot to death later that summer in a car parked in Hollywood.
1952 -- The Sands resort opened, with mobster and Lansky associate Joseph "Doc" Stacher serving as one of its early bosses. The resort, made famous as a hangout for Frank Sinatra and fellow Rat Pack members, was one of several Strip resorts that reportedly ran cash-skimming operations for the mob.
1955 -- The Dunes and Riviera both opened and quickly established mob links. Individuals with ties to the Dunes included Rhode Island organized crime boss Raymond Patriarca and mob attorney Morris Shenker, who also ran the Teamsters Union Pension Fund. The pension fund became a major financier of Las Vegas resorts. Key figures at the Riviera were thought to include Chicago mob boss Antonio "Joe Batters" Accardo, who was instrumental in the shifting of Las Vegas casino interests from the New York Mafia to the Chicago organized crime outfit, and fellow mobster Marshall Caifano.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board also was created to better regulate the booming gaming industry.
1957 -- A key player in the construction of the Tropicana, which opened that year, was Johnny Rosselli, who represented Chicago and Los Angeles mob interests in Las Vegas.
1958 -- The Stardust opened and soon was placed under the guidance of Dalitz, with Chicago mobster Johnny Drew later reportedly becoming part owner. The Stardust also was one of several casinos thought to have skimming operations tied to Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.
1959 -- The Nevada Gaming Commission was created, adding another regulatory layer to the gaming industry.
1960 -- State gaming regulators published the inaugural List of Excluded Persons, the so-called Black Book on individuals banned from Nevada casinos, with 11 mobsters listed. They included Giancana, Caifano, Los Angeles mob boss Louis Tom Dragna, Kansas City mobsters Carl and Nicholas Civella and Motel Grzebienacy, alleged Giancana lieutenant Murray Llewellyn Humphreys, Los Angeles mobsters Joseph Sica, John Louis Battaglia and Robert Garcia, and New York City mob enforcer Michael Coppola. Dragna, 91, of Covina, Calif., is the only surviving member of that group.
1969 -- The state passed a law that eased the way for corporations to own casinos, which was thought at the time to be a way of getting legitimate businesses to replace mob influence.
1972 -- Mob attorney Sorkis Webbe was among a group that purchased the Aladdin hotel, only for it to be alleged later that the hotel was run on behalf of hidden organized crime interests in Detroit. Webbe and others were also indicted for an alleged kickback scheme involving a remodeling project at the hotel, leading to a transfer of ownership.
This was also the year that "The Godfather" movie was released, a portion of which dealt with the mob's early years in Las Vegas.
1974 -- Argent Corp., headed by Allen Glick, bought the Stardust but ran it on behalf of Midwest organized crime families who proceeded to skim millions of dollars from the resort. The skim operation led to numerous mobster convictions.
1975 -- Joe Agosto, representing the Kansas City mob in Las Vegas, became part owner of the Tropicana and later pleaded guilty to skimming money from the hotel. Other top Kansas City mobsters were also convicted in connection with the scheme.
1982 -- Sports handicapper Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust for the Chicago mob and was later entered in Nevada's Black Book, survived a car bomb near Marie Callender's restaurant at 600 E. Sahara Ave.
1984 -- The Nevada Gaming Commission fined Stardust owners Allan Sachs and Herb Tobman $3 million for failing to stop alleged mob skimming at the hotel and removed them from ownership, even though neither were accused of participating in the scheme.
1986 -- Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Chicago mob's Las Vegas enforcer who also headed the "Hole in the Wall" burglary ring in town, was beaten to death along with his brother in an Indiana cornfield.
1990 -- Reputed Chicago mob associate and Black Book entrant Joseph Vincent Cusumano, a convicted criminal who was linked to a scheme to skim money from a Culinary Union life insurance plan, survived an assassination attempt at his Las Vegas home.
1995 -- The movie "Casino" opened, a takeoff on Spilotro, Rosenthal and the Stardust skimming activities using fictional characters.
1997 -- Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein, a reputed Spilotro lieutenant, was executed in his Las Vegas residence in a mob hit connected to a takeover of his criminal interests.
1998 -- The FBI announced it broke up a New York Mafia plot to muscle in on the escort service industry in Las Vegas. All six defendants in the case accepted plea deals including Mario Stefano, who was reputedly tied to the Gambino crime family.
1999 -- Mob attorney Oscar Goodman began 12 years at the helm as mayor of Las Vegas and capped his political career by pushing for creation of the Mob Museum.