Sunday, October 5, 2014

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal - The Las Vegas Gambling Master-Mind

A guaranteed winning gambler with Mafia ties.

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal proved over-and-over that his business since would always prove to be a money-maker. He was the first to bring sports gambling to the casinos, he was the first to bring women dealers to the tables -- he was basically nothing short of a marketing genius.

Rosenthal had control of four different hotels on the Las Vegas strip and despite who was the front-man of the operation he was the true man behind closed doors that ran the show.

His rise to being one of the most powerful people in Las Vegas during the 1970's was cut short after 14 years due to numerous problems. His gangster pal Nicky "The Ant" Spilotro, who was sent out to Vegas by the mob to watch his back, was having an affair with his ex-wife, show girl, Geri McGee. And the fact that Spilotro was constantly in the news for illegal activities -- Rosenthal association with him constantly hunted him. His wife had drug and alcohol problems and was causing him more hassles than he needed, he basically lost control of what was a perfect set up.

The whole reason he was out there in the first place was because he was under the Mafia's control. The Mafia was skimming money off the top of what the Casino made, illegally, but as long as Rosenthal was in control, the profits would stay large and the skim would easily go unnoticed.

In a place like Las Vegas, you can't stay at the top forever.

Rosenthal was having a problem with getting a gambling license, which he needed to be an acting boss in the casinos and hotels legally. To fight back against the gambling board that wouldn't give him a gambling license due to his mafia and illegal gambling past, he created his own T.V. talk show. The show invited many celebrities - O.J. Simpson, Wayne Newton, Frank Sinatra and many others. But secretly he was looking to use the talk show to fire back against the Gaming Commission for strong arming him on his gaming license - two birds with one stone - plenty of marketing for his hotels and casinos and lots of bad mouthing the Gaming Commission and calling them out for screwing him over.
The Mafia was not happy with this exposure and asked "Lefty" many times to knock the antics off for it was bringing too much bad publicity to the very reason they had him out their in the first place, "The Skim".

But not only was the Mafia getting fed up with his antics, so was law enforcement. With his connection to notorious gangster-murderer Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the FBI came down hard on the skim, the Mafia connections, and  "The Whole in the Wall Gang" ran by the "The Ant" Spilotro and his gangster pals. After 14 years of being on top, Lefty would finally be muscled out of what he called paradise, Las Vegas.

On the evening of Oct. 4, 1982, Lefty Rosenthal, the talented mob connected professional gambler, walked out of Tony Roma’s restaurant on East Sahara Avenue to his Cadillac. His car was bugged with a bomb and it exploded with him in it. Although he survived, that was his message, get out-of-town.

"Lefty", retired to Miami where he continued his career as a gambler. No one was ever prosecuted on the bombing, but it's widely speculated who was behind it, The Mafia.

"Lefty" died on October 13, 2008 at the age of 79.

As for the Mafia's skim and the power they had in Las Vegas.

By 1980, law enforcement would have them pretty much ran out-of-town. Although in a place like Las Vegas, there will always be some illegal activity, but the pull that the Mafia used to have in Vegas is not even close to what it was.

"Lefty" was a legend and will always be remembered for his ability to pick the winners in any sport. He knew how to run a successful casino/hotel operation like a scientist - he loved show girls and topless dancers, and his deep Mafia ties made him extremely powerful and dangerous.

Danny Greene: The Irish Mobster

Unlike most mobsters, Danny Greene did not start out in organized crime. In fact, he started out as a longshoremen, working on the docks of Cleveland's lucrative transport/export industry. He earned a repetition of a tough guy who had no problem with roughing up some people for what ever the reason.

After a lot of hard work and gained respect from his work ethic and attitude - Greene became a union organizer and eventually the union boss job title was available - he was a shoe in.

After becoming the union boss he, gained great respect from people in the higher society including government officials, rich business owners and also interested mobsters.

After spending some time with the corrupt mobsters, Greene liked the money that he seen and took some plays out of the mobs play book. He starting renovating the whole union office. The only problem was a lot of the money he was receiving for renovation and other projects were going right into his own pocket. Even when the renovation were over he kept receiving money for them and kept stuffing the money into his pockets. He also ran many other rackets on the docks that were illegal with no real worry of being caught or brought up on charges - it was said he was so confident he never even really tried to hide it.

He gained so much confidence because of something he called the grievance comity. A bunch of tough rough neck deckhand workers that would visit you if you had a problem with the way Greene was running things. These were not people you wanted to see unless you wanted to take a beating until you decided your problem was solved. 

Eventually this activity would earn him an investigation. With the way he carelessly embezzled his money, it was not that hard to indict Greene and convict him of the crimes. But Greene received nothing more than a slap on the wrist. A $10,000 fine and a loss of his job would be all he received for his corruption.

After that it was not hard for Greene to find work. One of the most powerful mobster in Cleveland, Alex "Shondor" Birns, approached him and asked him to be his muscle. Greene already liking what he had seen from the mob so far agreed. After a while of doing work for the mob - Birns approached Greene and asked him to do his first murder. Greene agreed and suggested to use a bomb. A bomb would take care of the evidence and would surely get the job done, Birns liked the ideal.

The only problem was - Greene botched the bombing and nearly blew himself up by accidentally letting the bomb blow up in his car. When questioned by authorities, he said someone just came by and threw a bomb in the window of his parked car - he shrugged it off and told authorities, he survived because, "It's the luck of the Irish".

After the botched attempt, there was still more work for Greene, including using his muscle to influence the Cleveland garbage system for the mob. But there was one job that Greene was asked to do that would change his relationship with the mob forever.
He was asked to work with a partner that Birns had set up for him - Greene obliged. The only problem was the partner turned out to be a drug dealer. Birns fronted over $70,000.00 dollars for a job, but the drug dealer spent the money on cocaine to double the profit of the job. Unfortunately, cops would raid the apartment of the drug dealer and the partner ended up dumping the coke and losing Birns' money and the profit. 

This issue put Greene in a sticky situation. Birns wanted Greene to pay back the $70,000.00 since the partner and the money were unreachable. Greene reluctantly refused and said the drug dealer was your guy and it wasn't his fault. In the underworld - a situation like this only ends in one or two ways - someone pays or someone dies.

Birns put a $25,000.00 hit on Greene's head and gave the contract to whoever wanted to take it. 

This would ignite a war between the mob and Greene and his group of Irish pals he put together called the Celtic Club. The club was mainly made up of Irish gangsters standing their ground and standing proud for their Irish heritage. Greene would have several attempts made on his life's which he survived - always saying "It's the luck or the Irish".

A bloody war would erupt between the two groups - bombs were frequently used for a means of murder. But one of the most important bombs took place in 1975, right outside of Birns' favorite bar and across the street from a church. After finishing a drink, Birns walked to his car and started it up - Birns' car blew up in the streets of Cleveland on the eve of Easter. One of Cleveland's biggest mob/underworld figures was dead. 

This only promoted the war between the mob and Greene - more bombs and more murders ensued. Everyone wanted Greene to tell his crew to stand-down, even his investigating detective asked him to stand-down for his own safety because the mob was known for never backing down and he was sure to find himself blown up as well. But Greene had no interest, he said he would never back down to the mob and said he was hell-bent on running the mob out of Cleveland.

After more blood shed and the bombing and murder of Greene's number two-man,  Greene was still not deterred. Greene often stood out in the open perhaps taunting his enemies. He never really laid low and even was brought up on manslaughter charges after being shot at and returning fire killing the would be assassin - charges were dropped. His place where he lived was blown up while he was in it - again he escaped using the old saying "it's the luck of the Irish". 

But the luck would run out. As Greene walked to his car October 6, 1977, in Lyndhurst, Ohio, a bomb was set off and the green light on Greene's head was finally over (the Irishman was dead.)

In the wake of Greene's death, his wish final came true. He went to war to get the mob out of Cleveland so he could have the turf - he may have never got the Cleveland turf, but for the most part neither did the mob. Thanks to the apprehension and corporation of an out-of-town mobster, Ray Ferritto, who placed the bomb in Greene's car and set it off - because of his testimony, roughly 22 Cleveland organized crime figures were convicted and sent to prison. Since then Cleveland has been a much quieter place.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Real Sopranos vs. T.V. Sopranos (DeCavalcante Family)

The real New Jersey Mob is the DeCavalcante family, but what we see on t.v., about the luxurious, prestigious life of crime promoted by well connected people (as seen on T.V. by The Sopranos) is often embellished.

In the case of this "Real Sopranos" documentary, it shows some of the funny but sometimes sad similarities between the real life New Jersey Mob and the HBO hit series "The Sopranos" that we all came to know and love.

  • A boss dieing of Stomach Cancer -- like in the first season
  • A high ranking mafia member killed for being homosexual -- like Vito
  • Fighting for New York's approval -- always
  • Running a strip club for legitimate income -- like Tony Soprano 
  • Robbing the World Trade Center and getting caught -- not a well thought out plan
  • How fast your so called family will turn and rat
  • How fast your family will expect you of ratting

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    The Commission: The Mafia's Original Seven

    The head of the Mafia Families and which families they spoke for.

    Charles "Lucky" Luciano

    Joseph "Bannanas" Bananno
    Bananno Family

    Gaetano "Tommy" Gagliano
    Soon to be the Luchesse Family
    New Orleans

    Vincent Mangano
    Soon to become The Gambino
    New Jersey
    New England

    Guiseppe "Joe" Profaci
    Soon to become the Colombo Family

    Stafano Maggadino

    Al "Scareface" Capone
    Chicago Outfit
    Los Angeles
    San Jose
    San Francisco

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Italian Mafia Drug Raid: 24 Arrested in U.S. and Italy

    A major Trans-Atlantic Italian Mafia drug smuggling operation was raided early Tuesday morning. The raid targeted both New York members and Italy members. Right after mid-night on Monday or (Tues morning) undercover agents raided locations in Brooklyn, while undercover agents across the ocean raided locations in Italy.

    In all, 24 men were arrested, some were even said to be the head of the powerful U.S. Mafia Family, the Gambinos.

    The Calabria based 'Ndrangheta Mafia which is much like the Sicilian Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, has been bridging an alliance in America with U.S. mafias to traffic drugs and guns into the U.S.using such avenues like South America.

    The undercover operation used wire taps, computer e-mails, and undercover agents to infiltrate the mafia group that were using fruit companies as a cover to smuggle drugs into Italy and back out to America.

    In the process of the undercover operation coded "Operation New Bridge" they were tracking plans that the 'Ndrangheta mafia had to smuggle in 500kg of cocaine from Guyana to Italy to be cut distributed to different customers including ones in the U.S.

    The value of the 500kg or 1000 pounds would of had an estimated street value, after being cut, of about $1 billion.

    U.S. attorney Marshall Miller said, "The raid struck at the heart of the Italian Mafia Crime Syndicate."

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    Philly Mob Boss (Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi) Acquitted

    Uncle Joe, the reputed Philadelphia mob boss, beat the rap for a second time Friday at his retrial on gambling and racketeering charges that stem from a long-time FBI investigation.

    A jury acquitted 74-year -old Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi of witness tampering, but deadlocked on three other charges. It's not clear if prosecutors will try him a third time on the 2009 indictments.

    Mob turncoats and other government witnesses painted Ligambi as the head of a fading La Cosa Nostra crime family in Philadelphia. The FBI has been investigating him for more than a decade, since he allegedly took over when Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino went to prison.

    The Ligambi case largely involves the collection of small gambling debts and loans, and the operation of video poker machines at neighborhood bars.

    The retrial was a pared-down version of last year's trial, when Ligambi's reputed underboss, enforcer and several associates were convicted. Underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino ended up with a 15-year-sentence, while the enforcer got 11 years.

    That jury acquitted Ligambi of five counts, while deadlocking on four.
    "Now we've won a sixth of nine counts," defense lawyer Ed Jacobs told reporters after Friday's verdict. "Both times the jury was unable or unwilling to accept the government's theories on racketeering conspiracy and gambling."

    He's called the case a witch hunt, and pointed out the lack of bloodshed. However, prosecutors pointed to the alleged threats and tough talk heard on FBI tapes to argue that the group remains dangerous.

    The jury on Friday also acquitted Ligambi's nephew, 50-year-old George Borgesi, of racketeering conspiracy. He was being released after 13 years in prison from an earlier mob case.
    Both juries deliberated for several weeks.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    The "Lufthansa Heist": Five Mobsters Indicted in the 30 Year Old Crime

    "Vincent Asaro" Originally the first person to be arrested in the Heist
    Vincent Asaro, a high-ranking capo in the Bonnano Crime Family, his son Jerome Asaro, Jack Bonventre, Thomas "Tommy D" Fiore and John "Bazoo" Ragano were all indicted on Thursday in a Federal New York Court.

    Charges that make the big news is the link to the 1978 "Lufthansa Hiest".

    Famed in the movie "The Goodfellas", the heist was the biggest heist in US history, said to bring in around 6 million dollars or 20 million in todays money.

    Jimmy Burke, (played by Robert DeNiro in the Goodfellas) the mastermind behind the heist, was convicted on a parole violation in 1982 and while in prison he was convicted on a murder charge of a drug dealer and sentenced to a much longer term that keep him in prison till 1996 when he died of lung cancer.

    FBI descended on Burke's properties in June in New York, including his home where the expected planning of the heist took place and the "Robert's Lounge" that he owned and operated and was said to use it as his own personal cemetery.

    The excavating of his Lounge brought up remains of human bones identified as Paul Katz (Burke's associate) and other evidence that gave FBI enough for arrests and indictments of the above mentioned five mobsters. Charges included: racketeering linked to the heist, extortion, consparicy, and murder for the high-ranking Vincent Asaro in connection to Katz's murder.

    It will be interesting to see how these charges stick, stature of limitation should already long be over with, outside of the murder charge.

    In any event, the crime was more then 30 years ago, the money is gone, the mastermind is dead and the mastermind pretty much murdered all other people involved. Should the FBI really be wasting time on criminal charges linked to this heist?

    Murder charges I can see, but giving these old geezers a tax paying free retirement home may not be good money spent by the FBI and the judicial system.