Tag Archives: mob

Mob Money Flows in Las Vegas

Recession?  Las Vegas, apparently, is in the money when it comes to anything related to the M-O-B!  

Yep, we didn’t want to let this one get swept under the rug or becoming the cause for another concrete casting. (Sorry, a bad mob-ism.) 

The Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs in mid-March awarded a $220,000 grant to the new Mob Museum planned for Las Vegas. 

The commission allocated $3 million to 23 projects that week, with the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement by far getting the biggest single award. 

State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James says there is an additional $97,000 in reserve that was allocated to the project. 

The museum is set to open 2011. It has already received – are you sitting down? -$3 million from Nevada over the years.  

We guess it doesn’t hurt the project if the current Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, is a strong proponent and also a prior mob lawyer. 

Don’t fret about the sifting off of your hard-earned money for a mob edifice:  Officials from the Mob Museum have reportedly told the commission this is the last time they’ll ask for money from the state.  Yeah, right.

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Mob Hangs Out in Las Vegas Today

It’s way too frickin’ hot to be hanging out on the street corners of Las Vegas now, perhaps planning new underworld dirty tricks, so mob informant Frank Cullotta and former organized crime fighters Dennis Arnoldy and Kent Clifford, are taking it inside to casually talk on the history of the mob in Las Vegas today at 6 p.m. at the Clark County Government Center Commission Chambers. Gulp!

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‘Mafia Princess’ Plans Las Vegas Museum

Former mob lawyer and now Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has added competition for his planned $50 million downtown mob museum.  It comes from none other than the daughter of murdered Chicago mob chief Sam Giancana, Antoinette Giancana, who is also now planning a mob shrine. 

Giancana, 74, was in Las Vegas over the weekend at Capo’s restaurant on Sahara Ave. for a meeting with backers of the proposed museum, Las Vegas investors Jay Bloom and Charlie Sandefur, who reportedly are in negotiations with Las Vegas Strip properties for their joint business venture. AntoinetteGiancana

She’s moving to Las Vegas this summer to take a hands-on role in the project and is excited about “following in the shadow of [her dad’s] footsteps.” 

Her father controlled the Chicago mob in the late 1950s and 1960s and was killed at his Chicago home on June 19, 1975, four days before her birthday. 

Some say Las Vegas hit man Tony Spilotro was the top suspect for her father’s death, but she is convinced the culprits were the CIA.   

In 1984 Giancana wrote a book titled “Mafia Princess,” that was a made-for-TV movie in 1986, starring Susan Lucci as Giancana and Tony Curtis – currently a Henderson, Nevada resident – playing her father. 

Then, in 2005, she co-wrote the book, “JFK and Sam:  The Connection Between the Giancana and Kennedy Assassinations,” which made the case that her father ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

The exhibit is “going to be a first,” Giancana said.  Bloom, she said, is “bringing in millions of dollars [worth of stuff] from various [crime] families that have never, ever been seen” by the public.

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Las Vegas Mob Museum & City Hall Projects Face Hard Times

Las Vegas tourism and business development efforts were dealt more crushing blows this week.  The $11.5 million proposed Mob Museum (on the current old post office site, right) — aka the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, which was supposed to chronicle the influence of organized crime on Southern Nevada and the law enforcement effort to drag criminals into courts of law — became the focal point in a contractor bidding dispute Wednesday on one of the final phases of the planned construction project. 

The matter could head to litigation, tying up the museum’s originally planned 2010 opening for years. 

Las Vegas is in protracted litigation with one of the contractors over a separate project. Furthermore, Las Vegas City Council members criticized city staff for inadequate bid specifications, worrying that disputes like this one will increase because of intensifying competition for construction work. 

The contract was scheduled to be awarded Wednesday to APCO Construction. After a lengthy hearing on a protest filed by Flagship Construction Co., a competing bidder, the matter was rescheduled for July 1, but some expect the fight to continue beyond that date. 

At issue is the full disclosure of contractor litigations, specification on removing hazardous materials, a seismic retrofit, interior remodeling and the historic restoration process. 

“I suspect litigation may flow from this,” said Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic. 

Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese was even more pessimistic: “We’re going to have a project here in the city of Las Vegas that’s going to be detained for a couple of years.” 

The news was a real downer for prior mob lawyer and current Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a top-tier pet downtown development project of his.  On top of that, the always outspoken mayor had to remain silent, recusing himself from the discussions because he shares an interest with one of contractors, APCO in the Apex Industrial Park. 

“I’ve been the driving force, I guess. I hope it’s complete while I can still enjoy it in public office,” says Goodman, who is considering a bid for Nevada governor as an independent in 2010. 

However, work continues on the Mob Museum exhibits that are planning to be located inside the retrofitted 1930s-era former courthouse on Stewart Avenue downtown, across the street from City Hall.

The museum is being funded by a mixture of private donations and grants, with the bulk of the money to come from city Redevelopment Agency bonds used to boost downtown Las Vegas development. 

Wednesday’s bad business development news was a prelude to more bad Las Vegas news on Thursday. To add salt to the oozing wounds, the controversial new city hall project, the touted savior catalyst that could jump-start the next wave of Las Vegas development, is also stalled and in jeopardy, according to Goodman in his Thursday news conference. 

Goodman blamed skittish financial markets, saying the city originally planned on an interest rate of around 5 percent. As of Wednesday, it appeared the best the city could do was 7.5 percent. “That’s a difference of millions of dollars,” Goodman said. 

cityhallAlthough the city received final approval to seek up to $267 million to finance the construction of a new city hall, left, now Las Vegas has run into the brick wall reality of financial markets, said Chris Bohner, research director for Culinary Local 226.  “I think the financial markets have a better understanding of risk than the City Council,” he said. “The financial markets have said, ‘We don’t think your project’s feasible.'” 

The next step for the city hall project would appear to be to seek bond financing for what is known as a “lease-purchase” agreement in which investors put up the construction money and are paid back through annual appropriations by the city. Such financing is considered a much riskier method than general obligation bonds because it’s not tied to a specific funding source.

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Mob, Celebrities are Supreme Toppings for Las Vegas Pizza Biz

joe-pesciActor Joe Pesci, right, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in the 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas,” is apparently going into refined cahoots with Las Vegas convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo, left, planning to rick-rizzoloslice up the payola coming from opening up several pizza joints called “Pesci’s Pizza Parlors” in Las Vegas, with several others in a foreign country.

Tough-guy actor Pesci is keeping the business dealings close to the cuff, though, disavowing any connection with Rizzolo, simply saying his longtime friend and personal assistant Tommy DeVito – and story source – “was confused.”

Pesci quickly switched gears,  saying  he is partnering with Las Vegas businessmen Sig Rogich, Sig Rogicha prominent public relations that advised the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and Elias Ghanem II,  who works for Wynn Resorts in the executive training program.  Ghanem’s dad, Dr. Elias Ghanem, was known as the “physican to the stars,” serving celebrities including Elvis Presley, Liberace, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Ann-Margret, and Wayne Newton.

Currently finalizing the new business paperwork, they plan to be in business in four or five months, according to longtime Pesci associate Tommy DeVito, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1970. 

DeVito, 80, and Pesci, 66, have been guitar-playing pals since they were 11-years-old and living in New Jersery.  DeVito, center, went on to form the Frankie Valli-led Four Seasons and was the group’s leading guitarist until a falling out with the group over his mounting gambling debts. tommy-devito

Pesci is a producer of the “Jersey Boys,” a musical based on the lives of the Four Seasons.  A spinoff of the Broadway hit has been playing in Las Vegas for a year at The Palazzo. 

Pesci and DeVito are such close friends that Pesci called DeVito a couple of months before the filming began on Martin Scorcese’s “Casino” to say he was taking the name Tom DeVito for his character, a mob thug based on Las Vegas hit man Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro. 

Rick Rizzolo, 50, received notoriety during the Las Vegas “G-Sting” federal trial, causing former Justice Department Organized Strike Force prosecutor Stan Hunteroton to exclaim to the court:  “Not since the reign of Anthony Spilotro and his associates has there been a more infamous hoodlum than Rick Rizzolo.” 

Rizzolo was among 17 defendants, including Las Vegas city officials, later found guilty on a related charge.  He served 11 months of a sentence of one year and one day before his release last year.   Rizzolo was also ordered to sell the Las Vegas topless cabaret Crazy Horse Too business and placed under three years of supervised release and fined $250,000. 

‘Dying’ to taste their pizza?   Maybe they could open up a pizza parlor in the planned Las Vegas Mob Museum?

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Las Vegas Mob’s ‘Cement Shoes’ Now Concrete Canoes?

The mob has been doing much less ‘planting’ nowadays.  And with the many stalled and failed casino construction projects dotting the Las Vegas landscape brought on by an ever constricting economy, it’s no secret that Las Vegas has a ton – maybe two? – of ready and willing concrete at its disposal. 

Grabbing this weighty waste opportunity, UNLV engineering students have built and are planning to race a buoyant unlvcanoeconcrete canoe in the fiercely competitive 2009 National ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on June 11-13.

But first they must clear the regional competition hurdle, finishing in the top five in competitions set from April 1 through 4 in Hawaii. About 20 teams are competing. 

To win it will take equal parts of technical skill, creativity and determination. 

Created from a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears, the slippery smooth, svelte 250-pound black, blue, and white canoe with a UNLV mosaic on the bottom, and the name Kiss Our Glass on the side, was engineered to be a precise 20 feet long and 30 inches wide. It has to be made that precise.  That’s the rules. 

The races, endurance, sprint, and slalom combined, count for 25 percent of the overall score. The remaining 75 percent is based equally on a submitted technical design paper that highlights the planning, development, testing and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal oral presentation, in which the team has to detail their canoe’s design, construction, racing ability and other innovative features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product-the final racing canoe and project display, which is scored on aesthetics and visual presentation. 

Tiffany Hearn, 22, the senior engineering student and captain of the UNLV canoe-building team, haunchos the seven-member team of other UNLV engineering students that are trying to field a winning canoe. 

Engineering students at UNLV and all over the country do this every year. They enter local and regional competitions. A national champion is declared.  Last year the University of Nevada, Reno won.  

UNLV has never made it past the regional competition.  Last year they came in 11th place, their best finish yet. Maybe a win is in their cards this year. Maybe it isn’t.  That’s not the point. 

“This is a big project that takes months to complete. They have to be able to work as a team,” said Bill Culbreth, an associate dean in UNLV’s college of engineering. “Most engineering projects will work that way.” 

So it is that the national concrete canoe competition is more than a boat-building contest. It’s a metaphor for the real world — where there is not nor will there ever be a market for boats made of sand, glue and water. 

Noe Santos, 21, the team member most responsible for figuring out how to make this particular blend of concrete, doesn’t even plan on working in that area after he graduates in May. He’ll be doing research on solar cells. 

In the meantime, he and the rest of the UNLV team have spent at least 40 hours every week since May working on this canoe. “No Christmas vacation. No Valentine’s. No anything,” Hearn said. 

Santos further explained that you can’t use just any old concrete – and, no, they didn’t use our scrap casino concrete – to make a canoe that actually works. The competition’s rules say the canoe must float back to the surface after being submerged. UNLV has never done well on that test. 

The secret to the team’s confidence this year is the concrete concoction, which weighs in at 54 pounds per cubic foot, about 8 pounds lighter than water. 

The concrete, lined with a carbon fiber reinforcing mesh and with tiny metal cables, is then blended with tiny glass bubbles and hollow glass beads about the size of ice cream sprinkles so the concrete has little air pockets inside. 

In the past, UNLV’s teams have blended the concrete with rocks. They’ve had hits and misses, a couple of times suffering competition-ending catastrophic failures; the boats broke in half. 

But not this year, the team members say. 

The team took their boat out to a man-made lake at Desert Shores on March 14. They rowed in it. They sank it.  But the good news it that it came right back up. 

To work on their speed, team members have been practicing twice a week in a traditional fiberglass canoe. They’re getting pretty fast. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access hopes the UNLV team is just fast enough- taking home their first win!

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Mobsters Are THE Las Vegas Art?

Some mobsters are peacefully decomposing in corn fields; others are unwillingly lending their frames to help mobstersupport the Hoover Dam.   But for Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, an ex-mob lawyer, those resting places are merely a mobster purgatory.   If the mayor has his way – and he usually does get his way – the City of Las Vegas will reincarnate the good ol’ trigger-finger-boys for their last stand- right into the annals of true Las Vegas history- or should I say folklore?

Mayor Goodman, in his last term of office, is definitely not a lame – or whacked – duck, rather he is fighting like a possessed madman on an energy drink I.V. to establish the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (translated: Las Vegas Mob Museum). 

oscargoodmanAnd it doesn’t matter one iota to headstrong Goodman when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and others, like Newt Gingrich, recently said his idea is a shining example of a pork barrel project gone very bad- and one that should definitely not be part of Obama’s economic stimulus package.

Hizzoner fervently counters, saying the museum will attract 250,000 visitors a year to Las Vegas, adding, “Nobody’s going to come to downtown Las Vegas to look at paintings.  They’re not going to look at watercolors.  They’re not going to look at porcelain. They’re not going to look at miniature trains.”

Goodman steadfastly believes that Las Vegas and a mob museum marriage is a natural fit.

Perhaps, yes.  Perhaps, no.  But, regardless, it will be a tough upward climb to sell the idea in a sour economy if the $50 million mob museum project opens in 2010, as planned.   Since 2001 the project has only coughed up $3.6 million- and that was composed only of federal grants, and from matching state and local money. 

If you don’t believe there are enough “silent” mobsters still kicking around in Las Vegas that are rich enough to build their own museum, just wait until you see who digs deep in their pockets when the museum fundraisers kick off  later this year.

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