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Friday, May 24 2013 7:40 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:40:18 GMT
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The Las Vegas outcall industry, widely regarded as a front for prostitution, rakes in millions of dollars each year. Those profits are an irresistible lure for organized crime, which was forced out of Las Vegas casinos 20 years ago.
Back when he was a mob associate in New York, his name was Tony Nastasi. A columnist who suspected him of committing a gangland murder dubbed him Tony the Butcher, but the nickname didn't stick because he didn't do the crime.
These days, he has a different name, a different hometown and a different life. But, as Tony says, some things never change.
For much of his life, the mobster formerly known as Tony Nastasi says, his life was a lot like a Scorsese movie. As a young man, Tony posed for a photo with Albert Anastasia, the boss of Murder Incorporated, who later was on the receiving end of a hit.
As a teen, Tony did favors for a guy in the neighborhood named Crazy Joe Gallo. On the mean streets of New York, he hung out with associates of the Lucchese and Genovese crime families, was a numbers runner and later a shylock.
A loan customer who couldn't pay turned over the ownership of an escort service, a front for prostitution, and Tony learned he was good at it.
"They'll refer to me as the King Pimp of New York, which I take offense at. I don't think I was a pimp. I don't have a stable. I didn't sleep with these girls," he said.
Nastasi's decent treatment of his working girls is what led him to the FBI. Rival owners treated the women like slaves, beat them, and fed them drugs.
Someone tried to take Tony out by running his car off a cliff and he struck back. After a former employee was murdered, he contacted the FBI.
"They had nothing on me, the feds. I went to them, not because somebody had me under their thumb or I was wanted or I was under indictment, or nothing. I know who was responsible and I guess I'd had enough," he said.
During the same period, the mid 90's, when he was helping lawmen put away New York bad guys, Nastasi branched out to Las Vegas.
He couldn't believe how wide open the outcall industry was here, with dozens of pages of ads in the phone book, hundreds of companies, but most of them owned by the same handful of guys. The money was huge. He paid a piece of his action to some guys back home.
"That only protects you from people like them. They police each other. It doesn't protect you from organized crime characters that carry badges," he said.
A few months after opening in Las Vegas, Nastasi claims he was roughed up and shaken down by two vice officers who arrested him for pandering. They wanted money, he says. "So I said, "I know who likes crooked cops, the FBI. They like crooked cops.""
The Las Vegas FBI never found evidence of police corruption, but while talking with Nastasi, a surprise dropped in their laps.
A rival escort operator named Chris Dicarlo told Nastasi that he could make the criminal charges go away thru his contacts in the local courts, adding that he was protected by the Gambino family headed by mob boss John Gotti.
The FBI jumped on this. Nastasi began wearing bugs disguised as beepers.
Nastasi began talking to a New York mobster named Mario Stefano. Stefano said there was a problem in Las Vegas, a headache, but that he was sending some Aspirin to make it go away -- Vinnie the Aspirin, a reputed torture expert named Vinnie Congiusto known to use this power drill in his line of work.
"He had a reputation for being unmerciful," said former FBI Agent Jerry Hanford..
The plan was to seize control of the entire outcall industry, whatever it took.
"They got out here, they said they might need a spare battery in case they had to drill some other holes," said Nastasi.
Vinnie the Aspirin and a colleague, a former mercenary nicknamed the Angel of Death, came to Las Vegas to work their magic for the mob.