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How does the movie CASINO relates to the book MURDER IN MCHENRY PART 1

Submitted by on Wednesday, 8 May 2013No Comment

This week’s blog is going to be part one of two. I’m going to discuss how the movie CASINO relates to my book Murder In McHenry. If you never seen the movie CASINO it is excellent. And it’s also a fun way to learn about what happened with Vegas and the mob. This week’s blog I will be talking about the movie itself. Next week, I will go into the actual events that took place in Vegas. In this blog I am going to tell you a little bit about the movie, the characters, and who they were actually based on. Maybe this weekend you will spend some time and watch the movie. Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth time, I hope to give you a whole new understanding and perspective about the movie.

The movie is based primarily on three major characters. The character Sam “Ace” Rothstein is played by Robert DeNiro. The movie starts with Sam being blown up in his Cadillac. The movie goes back in time to all the events that led up to that day. The real Sam Rothstein, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal actually did survive a bomb blast in his car.

The role Nicky Santoro was played by Joe Pesci. Nicky was an enforcer back at home in Chicago. Nicky may have been physically small, but he was one of the tough guys and very sadistic. But that is exactly why the Chicago Outfit sent Nicky out to Las Vegas. To protect and oversee Sam Rothstein and the Las Vegas “skim.”

Ginger McKenna was played by Sharon Stone. Ginger caught the attention of Lefty, and later were married. However she could never escape her past. She was a hustler and never really fell in love with Sam.

The movie plays out with the Tangiers Hotel and Casino as the backdrop. The Tangiers was financed through the Teamsters Pension Fund, by the Tangiers owner Philip Green. Philip Green was the Chief Executive Officer of the real estate holding company and he was the one that penned the Tangiers loan with the Teamsters. What Mr. Greene did not realize, he was just a straw man. The Teamsters loans were not arranged by him as he thought, but they were arranged by the Chicago Outfit.

The man that was really in charge of the operation was Sam Rothstein. He was hand selected by the Chicago Outfit to run all the gaming operations in the Tangiers. Sam was one of the best sports bettors in the whole country. Although the Outfit was completely confident in the abilities of Sam Rothstein to bring in money to the mob, they were not going to leave anything to chance.

The Outfit sent one of its best enforcers to help and protect the Tangiers operations. Nicky was perfect for this operation. He was tough, sadistic, and he was a made man in the mob.

What was going on with the mob families in Las Vegas at the time was that they were skimming money off the top at the Tangiers. They take money off the casino floor before it could be accounted for and send it to all the various families across the country. The money will be sent to a mobster in Kansas City and he was responsible to make sure everyone gets their cut.

Nothing is simple in the life of crime but it can get a lot more complicated with the realities of the people involved. Nicky becomes attracted to his buddy Sam’s wife, Ginger. Things start to spin out of control. The pressure cooker starts to boil over as the feds come closer and closer to nailing the mob. The bosses at home turned up the heat by demanding that things start to run smoother and a lot more quieter. Watch this movie, entertain yourself while the story is told. And remember almost everything in this movie is true.

Another interesting fact about the movie CASINO; at the end when the bosses decided that some people had to go, it is actually Frank Cullotta on the screen acting as a hitman. He even acted out a murder that he committed. That was the murder of Jerry Lisner. Frank is most likely the only person to act out a murder on the big screen that he actually committed. So the next time that you are watching the ending of the movie CASINO, and you are watching everybody getting whacked, take a look, it’s Frank.

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Tangiers Casino that served as the backdrop for the movie CASINO. It was a Teamster Funded Hotel. The Chicago Outfit received loans from the Teamster Pension fund to build the Casino. The Teamster President was “Andy Stone” played by Alan King. Mob and Mob Associates were all in Nevada’s black book and barred from walking into casinos. The Outfit had to have straw man fronting their operation. It was real estate investor Phillip Green played by Kevin Pallak.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the movie, Sam Rothstein was responsible for the Tangiers Hotel and Casino. Frank Rosenthal was actually in charge of four casino and hotels. The Stardust, Fremont, Marina, and Hacienda were all Outfit casino’s and Frank Rosenthal was in charge of them all. Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi chose to use one casino for the background of the movie vice the actual four. It was thought to be to complicated for the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Robert DeNiro in the movie CASINO as Sam “Ace” Rothstein. The “Sports Gambling Mogul,” sent by the Chicago Outfit to overlook the Tangiers Casino’s skim operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the real Sam Rothstein, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. He would know everything about any game that he was betting on. He would know if the players were on drugs or if a quarterback’s girlfriend was pregnant or anything else that would effect a game’s outcome. He would never get his gaming license in Las Vegas from the Nevada Gaming Commission. He was once arrested for fixing a game and most importantly he was close acquaintances with Tony Spilotro and other Outfit associates. He escaped being blown up in his car, someone had planted a bomb in it. Lefty would not cooperate with the investigation and it is not known who did it. However it is often thought that it was Tony Spilotro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Joe Pesci playing the role of Nicky Santoro in the movie CASINO. When Frank Collotta was asked how well Joe Pesci played Tony Spilotro, Frank replied very well. He was perfect on the height and even the little touch of gray hair in the front of his head. The only thing that Frank said does not match was the language. Tony would not swear like that, if at all. He was more often a gentleman if he was not trying to hurt or kill you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The role of Nicky Santoro was based on Tony Spilotro. You can see that Tony Spilotro did have that touch of gray in the front of his head. He was only 5’5″ but he was extremely tough, even as a kid. His older brothers would pay anyone $5 to $10 to fight their little brother. He would torture people when he had too. Something he learned by the best, or by the worst depending on how you look at this. He was brought up through the ranks working for a sadistic bookie named “Mad” Sam DeStefano. The scene with the guys head in the vice, was true. He tortured Billy McCarthy for three days and he would not talk. That is when Tony put Billy’s head in the vice and popped his eyeball out when cranking down on the vice. In 1986 Tony, like the character Nicky Santoro, he was beaten to death with his brother and they were both thrown in a hole and buried in a cornfield in Indiana. A farmer found them because he saw the disturbed ground. Had they buried the bodies a short distance away, they may have never been found. It would have been on Joe Aiuppa’s farm who was the Outfit boss at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Vincent’s role of Frank Marino. Frank Marino was Nicky Santoro’s Lieutenant and the leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Marino was based loosely on Frank Cullotta. Frank was a childhood friend of Tony Spilotro’s. They grew up together in the area called the patch, in Chicago. That child friendship lasted all the way into adulthood. Tony needed to enforce the Chicago Outfit’s will to protect the “skim” operation in Las Vegas. He was going to need help with that so he asked Frank to come out to Las Vegas. Frank did and brought a crew out there with him. They needed to earn a living and Tony obliged them by allowing them to steal. Frank headed up a crew called the Hole in the Wall Gang. They earned the nickname by busting through walls or roofs to bypass the alarm systems that were installed in businesses back then. The murderer of my father, Larry Neumann was a member of that gang.

Ginger McKenna Rothstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Stone played the role of Ginger McKenna. Ginger McKenna was a former Las Vegas showgirl that knew how to hustle what she wanted out of her marks. She was beautiful and got the attention of Sam Rothstein who later married her in the movie. She also won the attention of Nicky Santoro that started the affair that help tear apart the La Costra Nostra in Las Vegas.

Geraldine McGee Rosenthal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger McKenna was based on Geraldine McGee Rosenthal. What was portrayed in the movie was what she was in real life. My co-author had the pleasure of knowing the assistant to her husband Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. She said that Frank really did love her and was crushed upon learning of her death. Frank’s assistant said that the real life Geraldine was one of the most beautiful woman that she had ever met. Although Sharon Stone is known for her beauty, she said that she could not hold a candle to the beauty of the real Ginger McKenna.

Alan King Andy Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Stone was played by Alan King. Alan King was the high ranking Teamster  Union representative. He was pulling the strings behind the scenes with mob and Phillip Green’s real estate holding company for the Tangier’s loan from the Teamsters Pension Fund. When Remo orders the hit of all those connected to the skim, Andy Stone was one the first people to get it.

Allen Dorfman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Stone was based on Allen Dorfman. He was a high ranking Teamster member, who was also good friends with Jimmy Hoffa. His step father was Paul “Red” Dorfman, who headed the Chicago Waste Handler’s Union and a member of the Chicago Outfit. Before becoming a Teamster he was in the United States Marines. He even earned the Silver Star in the heroic battle of Iwo Jima in Japan. He got his start with the Teamsters by starting Union Insurance Agency. His company provided insurance benefits to the Teamsters. He would pay huge kickbacks to Jimmy Hoffa from his insurance company. While with the Teamsters he got involved in approving Teamster backed loans. He took over approving these loans from Jimmy Hoffa when he was sent to prison. Later he would be charged with embezzlement of Teamster’s Money with other Teamster higher up’s and the Outfit’s Joey “the Clown” Lombardo. Lombardo and Dorfman were later convicted of bribing Nevada Senator Howard Cannon in relation to the case. Just like in the movie with Remo placing a hit on Andy Stone, it is believed that Joey Aiuppa ordered a hit on Dorfman. Allen Dorfman was killed on January 23rd, in the Hyatt parking lot in Lincolnwood, Illinois. He was gunned down at fear that he may cooperate with the Feds to avoid a 55 year prison sentence.

Philip Green

 

 

 

 

Phillip Green was played by Kevin Pollak. He was the Straight man in the operation. He was squeaky clean and the Nevada Gaming Commission would offer him a Gaming License. He was under the impression that he obtained the loan for the Tangiers on his own through the Teamster’s Pension Fund. He thought that he was in charge of the operation until Sam Rothstein told him that he was in charge.

Allen Glick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phillip Green was based on Allen Glick. Allen Glick was a Real Estate investor from San Diego. Through his holding company the Argent Corporation he owned the Stardust, Hacienda, Fremont, and Marina. The name Argent Corporation came from Allen’s initials “ARG” and “ENT” from the word enterprises. Allen really was a straw man. He had no idea that the mob was the one pulling the strings in getting his load through the Teamsters. Allen was not part of the skim nor was he even aware that it was going on.  He had a rude awakening when Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal told him that he better stay out of his way. He was in charge and not Allen. There was one thing that the mob did not know about Argent was that there may have been a silent partner. Allen denied that they were partners so partner went to sue Allen Glick and the Argent Corporation. Before the lawsuit goes forward Joe Pesci’s character Nicky Santoro goes into the ladies house and slit’s her throat. This actually happened. Tony Spilotro killed Allen Glick’s partner Tamara Rand.

Pasquale Cajano Remo Gaggi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remo Gaggi was played by Pasquale Cajano. Remo was the Outfit boss back at home in Chicago. He oversaw all Outfit operations. When the cops were busting in on the “skim,” he was the one to give out the order to start tying up loose ends. Better to be safe than sorry.

Joe Aiuppa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remo Gaggi was based on the Chicago Outfit boss Joe “Doves” Aiuppa. He was a very tough man as he was a boxer in his early years. He received the nickname “Dove” for getting busted in 1962 with over 500 dead doves in his car. The limit during hunting season was 24. He received three months jail time for this infraction. He earned his way up by becoming a bookie and running the manufacturing of gambling machines that were used illegally and legally all around the country. He was not one of the smarter Outfit bosses but certainly one of the tougher ones. It is believed that he was responsible the murder of former Outfit boss Sam Giancona. His reasons for the murder could have been out of Sam’s refusal to kick back up to the Outfit his Mexican gambling operation, which at the time he was exiled to Mexico by the Outfit. Another possible reason was in 1975 the Feds brought him in from Mexico to discuss the mob’s involvement in the Fidel Castro and Cuba operations. He was later convicted of his role in the Las Vegas skim. He received 28 years in June of 1986. He may have blamed Tony Spilotro and ordered the hit on him and his brother Michael. He was released from prison in 1996 and died on February 22, 1997. He is buried in the Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, IL. The same place that my father was buried 16 years earlier.

Joseph Rigano Vincent Borelli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Rigano played the role of Vincent Borelli. Vincent was the Kansas City Boss.  His Underboss Artie Piscano was in charge of dividing up the “skim” among the mob families across the country.

Nicholas Civella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Borelli was based on Nicholas Civella. Nicholas was the Boss of the Kansas City family. He was arrested and convicted of illegal gambling and bribery. He was medically released from prison in 1983. Two weeks later he died of lung cancer. Upon his death his younger brother, Carl “Cork” Civella took over the Kansas City family.

 

Artie Piscano

 

 

 

 

 

Vinny Vella played the role of Artie Piscano. Artie was a Kansas City mobster. He was in charge of getting the money from the Las Vegas “skim” to all of the other mob families across the country. In the movie he was getting upset. He kept on being sent to Vegas to make sure that no one was “skimming” the “skim.” He was not getting reimbursed for his expenses so he started to keep records. The records were the records that were found by the FBI and used to prosecute the mob.

 

CarlTuffy DeLuna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artie Piscano was based on Carl “Tuffy” DeLuna. He was the Underboss to the Kansas City family. The Kansas City family reports back to the Chicago Outfit. Carl was trusted across the country by the different families and that is why he was responsible to make sure that each family got there cut. In the movie Artie Piscano was raided by the FBI and he dies from having a heart attack. Before he dies the FBI finds his notes and was able to bring down the Outfit. The real Carl was raided by the FBI but he did not die on the spot from a heart attack. The FBI did find his notes but they were encrypted. They had to figure out what the notes meant by matching it up to recordings of other gangsters and other evidence. In 1979 Carl was sentenced to 30 years for his participation in the Las Vegas “skim.” He was released in from prison in 1998. He later died in Kansas City in 2008.

 

Dominick Santoro Philip Suriano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phillip Suriano played the role of Dominick Santoro, the brother to Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci’s character). His most remember able scene that he was in was at the end of the movie. It is when he and his brother Nicky was taken to the cornfield and beaten to death with baseball bats and buried alive. Dominick was beaten first so his brother Nicky can watch the whole thing.

Michael Spilotro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dominick Santoro was based on Michael Spilotro the real life brother of Tony Spilotro. Michael was an actor prior to getting into the Outfit business. He was good friends with actor Robert Conrad. Through Conrad, he starred in an episode of Magnum PI. Michael was later killed with his brother Tony by the Chicago Outfit. He was told to attend a meeting to where he was told that he was going to be made. He knew that he may be in trouble before he left. He left his jewelry at home and told his wife that if he was not home by 9:00 PM that there was trouble. He never returned home. He was beaten to death in a house in Bensenville, IL and was driven and buried in a cornfield in Indiana.

Oscar Goodman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a real photo of Tony Spilotro and his attorney Oscar Goldman. Oscar is one of the few people in the movie that played himself. Oscar was Tony and Frank Rosenthal’s lawyer. Oscar Goldman represented a lot of mobsters. After his career at being a mob lawyer, he became the mayor of Las Vegas.

 

Part 2 How does the movie CASINO relates to the book MURDER IN MCHENRY

 

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