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Hole in the Wall Gang on the 4th of July 1981, Bertha’s and Karma

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 July 20136 Comments
The Hole In The Wall Gang being arrested on July 4th, 1981 for robbing Bertha's. From left to right, Larry Neumann, Frank Cullotta, Joe Blasko, Leo Guardino, Ernie Davino, and Wayne Matecki

The Hole In The Wall Gang being arrested on July 4th, 1981 for robbing Bertha’s. From left to right, Ernie Davino, Larry Neumann, Wayne Matecki, Leo Guardino, Joe Blasko, and Frank Cullotta,.

It is the week of the 4th of July, a time that we get together with family and friends for cookouts, fireworks and other 4th of July activities. This day also has meaning to myself and in relation to the book MURDER IN MCHENRY. My father, Ron Scharff and Patricia Freeman were killed on June 2nd, 1981. We did not find out until 27 years later that it was Hole in the Wall Gang member Larry Neumann that killed my father and Pat. Fortunately, karma does not have to wait for justice to strike because karma was unleashed just a month later on July 4th, 1981.

It was late June or early July in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frank Cullotta and the Hole in the Wall Gang members, Ernie Davino, Leo Guardino, Joe Blasko, and Larry Neumann were planning a hit on Bertha’s Gifts and Home Furnishings on 896 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas. It was an exclusive resale shop for the finer connoisseur of home furnishings and jewelry. This was going to be at least a million dollar score for the Hole in the Wall Gang with a nice kick up to Tony Spilotro and the Chicago Outfit. This was not going to be easy, not even for the Hole in the Wall Gang.

The Hole in the Wall Gang got their name from the media, reporting on burglaries in Las Vegas were the perpetrators gained access by busting a hole in a buildings wall or through the roof. They did this to avoid being detected by alarm systems. Back then alarms were wired around windows and doors, and it was very rare that an expensive motion detectors are used. The newspapers reported on these robberies and called them the Hole in the Wall Gang. However in the case of Bertha’s, they did have the expensive motion detectors. Frank has gone into Bertha’s a couple of times to case the joint out. He had determine the way to get into Bertha’s was to go through the roof, land on top of the safe and drill through it.

Tony Spilotro was the enforcer sent out to Vegas by the Chicago Outfit.

Tony Spilotro was the enforcer sent out to Vegas by the Chicago Outfit.

Frank was going over his plan with Tony Spilotro. Tony wanted Frank to take Sal Romano on the Bertha’s heist. Frank knows Sal and he didn’t like him, he always felt that there was something wrong about him. Frank told Tony that he didn’t want to take Sal Romano. Tony assured Frank that Sal is a good guy and that he should take him along anyway. He told Frank if Sal Romano gives him any problems at all, have “Lurch” deal with him. Lurch was the nickname of my father’s killer, Larry Neumann, because of his size.

Frank got together with the rest of the Hole the Wall Gang for the final preparation and planning on the Bertha’s break-in. They knew with all the cutting and drilling needed to get through the roof and into the safe there was going to be a lot of noise. They decided that they were going to break into Bertha’s on the Fourth of July and use the sound of the fireworks as a distraction and diversion from their cutting and drilling.

On the 4th of July 1981, the plan goes into play. Joe Blasko was in a commercial van across the Street from Bertha’s. He had a clear view of Bertha’s and he was listening to police scanners. Frank Cullotta and Larry Neumann were running counter surveillance, by listening to the police scanners and looking for any law enforcement in the area. While Frank was listening to the scanners, he noticed that there wasn’t as much chatter as usual by law enforcement. At around 9 PM Sal Romano pulls up in the back of Bertha’s with Leo Guardino, Ernie Davino, and ladders and other equipment to pull off the heist. Sal is supposed to move the station wagon but he never did. Frank got on the radio with him and asked him what was the problem. Sal said he was having problems getting the station wagon started. Frank ordered Larry Neumann to move in and figure out the problem. Frank pulled in on a frantic Larry Neumann. Larry was screaming and yelling at Frank that Sal Romano was nowhere to be found. It is at this point that Frank realizes the truth about Sal Romano, he was a mole for the FBI.

It was all too late. The FBI and the Las Vegas Metro Police were hidden all over the area. They knew every step that the Hole in the Wall Gang was going to take. In fact, while Frank was running counter surveillance he pulled up to the side of a vehicle, that if he would a look at the passenger side just seconds earlier he would have seen who was at that stoplight. It was the top cop for Las Vegas Metro, Gene Smith. Frank knew Gene Smith all too well and like all mobsters, they feared him. Gene was riding around with an FBI agent in preparation of the Bertha’s sting.

Dennis Aroldy and Paul Scharff at the Clark County Library, Las Vegas, NV. January, 2011

Dennis Aroldy and Paul Scharff at the Clark County Library, Las Vegas, NV. January, 2011

Dennis Arnoldy at the time was the lead arresting FBI agent on top of the roof of Bertha’s. They were hidden there hours earlier. He and his team waited up on the rooftop to catch them in the act. They didn’t want to catch the Hole in the Wall Gang just attempting a crime, they wanted to catch them committing a crime. As soon as Leo Guardino and Ernie Davino had penetrated the roof and were going to start working on penetrating the safe, the arrest order was given over the radio. Dennis Arnoldy and the other arresting agents moved from hiding behind air-conditioning units to shotguns at the ready and arrested Ernie and Leo. Other vehicle units moved in and arrested Joe Blasko, Frank Cullotta, and Larry Neumann.

This was the unraveling of the Hole in the Wall Gang and the beginning of the end of the mob’s control of the Las Vegas Skim, as portrayed in the movie CASINO. Shortly thereafter this event Tony Spilotro would put a hit out on Frank. This is when Frank turned government witness. Frank told the authorities about the murder of Robert Brown, the jeweler that Larry Neumann had killed. Larry would then spend the rest of his life in prison until his death in January of  2007.

In interesting note, the lead arresting FBI agent, Dennis Arnoldy, became Frank’s debriefer. They spent years working with each other. putting Chicago Outfit members and associates behind bars. They became the best of friends. A relationship that lasts over 30 years and till this day. You can see this story and Frank and Dennis his relationship play out on the TV screen. The National Geographic show, Locked Up Abroad has dedicated an episode in telling the story of what happened on the 4th of July, 1981 in Las Vegas Nevada at Bertha’s.

Frank Cullotta, Heidi Harris, and Paul Scharff at the Heidi Harris Show, KDWN Radio, Las Vegas, NV. June, 2009.

Frank Cullotta, Heidi Harris, and Paul Scharff at the Heidi Harris Show, KDWN Radio, Las Vegas, NV. June, 2009.

I mentioned at the very beginning of this article that the 4th of July has a personal meaning to me. It’s my father’s birthday. Ever since my father’s death, on the 4th of July I always look up to the sky and say to myself, some of these fireworks are for you dad.

In 2009 I was in Las Vegas doing a radio show with Frank. We got done with the show and decided that we were going to get something to eat and have breakfast. Frank’s not a superstitious guy, nor am I, but I said to Frank, Larry brought some bad juju with you guys on the night of Bertha’s. Frank said, how’s that? I told him that that was my father’s birthday. The expression on Frank’s face was priceless. Neither of us are superstitious but the both of us knew that are just some things in this world that you don’t mess with.

The moral of the story; don’t mess with Karma!!

 

You can ask Frank Cullotta in person what it was like on that 4th of July day or ask former FBI Agent Dennis Arnoldy what it was like to chase the Hole In the Wall Gang down. Go to MOB CON 2014 in Las Vegas at Palace Station on September 27th and 28th. Click on the image below to find out more!

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KNOWLEDGE CENTER

I have put together some of the articles that I have written that are prevalent for the upcoming election in MARCH!. This is the Republican Nominee election but probably more important than the general election. It is most likely the winner in March will win in November and become sheriff. If you review the articles in the Knowledge Center, you will read all kinds of unbelievable things as it relates to this election.

 

My mother and father, Ron and Kathy Scharff, 1969.

Freedom of Information Act Appeal to get the remainder of my father’s file. In my efforts to get to the bottom of my father’s murder and what the McHenry County Sheriff’s office has done to me and my family 33 years ago. I filed a FOIA Request (Freedom of Information Act Request) to get my father’s case file. Many documents were withheld from my request. It is my believe the documents are withheld to protect guilty individuals that are known to Sheriff Keith Nygren and Undersheriff Andrew Zinke that covered up who actually killed my father during the original investigation. Start on page 11 to read what sounds like a murder mystery thriller, but this is my true life. It is backed by FBI reports, witness statements, and newspaper articles.

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke and the Rita Corporation on RT 31Andrew Zinke for McHenry County Sheriff, Really??? This article is based on my own father’s murder investigation and Undersheriff Andrew Zinke. I talked about how he made his own milestones and failed to meet every single one. How it took me calling NBC News Chicago to get Andrew Zinke to return my phone call about my father’s murder investigation, as he was the lead investigator. I am fighting to get the remainder of my father’s case file. It is my believe that Undersheriff Andrew Zinke and the Sheriff Keith Nygren are hiding and protecting individuals that covered up the true killer of my father during the original investigation.

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke and the Rita Corporation on RT 31Andrew Zinke plus Rita Corporation equals ON THE TAKE Brian Goode and his RITA Corporation was a person of interest and focal point for the investigation of the distribution of 30 plus tons of marijuana. Undersheriff Andrew Zinke told Brian Goode of the investigation. Two days later, according to Koziol, (Sgt. Koziol was working on the investigation and filed a complaint against Zinke) Goode gave Zinke’s election campaign a $5,000 donation. The RITA Corporation address is the same address as Andrew Zinke’s campaign headquarters.

Deputy Zane SeiplerMcHenry County Deputy Zane Seipler under siege, Again!! Zane Seipler is a whistleblowing deputy that was fired by Keith Nygren after he exposed the sheriff’s office for racial profiling. Nygren was forced to hire Seipler back after he lost an arbitration ruling, a court hearing, an appellate court hearing, and a failed attempt to be heard by the Illinois State Supreme Court. After Seipler was hired back, Nygren fired him again. Zane Seipler is currently fighting to get his job back.

Deputy Scott Milliman in uniform.

Another McHenry County Deputy under siege, Scott Milliman Scott Milliman was a deputy and former right hand man to Sheriff Keith Nygren. He was fired by the sheriff for whistleblowing that the sheriff allegedly transacted in ticket fixing, bribery, general corruption, fraud in a SBA Loan, and in tapping Milliman himself to kill a McHenry County Judge and a Coroner’s Candidate. Scott Milliman is currently fighting to get his job back.

Gary Gauger, of Richmond, was wrongly convicted of murdering his parents in 1993 and sentenced to death. After years in prison his sentence was overturned and two gang members were later convicted of the murders. Gauger is released a book detailing the event called IN SPITE OF THE SYSTEM. (Ryan Rayburn photo)

How Gary Gauger got to DEATH ROW This is the real life, tragic story of Gary Gauger. He was falsely arrested and sent to Death Row by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department for the double murder of his parents. Investigators from the sheriff’s department rigged a false confession so that they could convict him.

 

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke giving Cal Skinner the finger at the 4th of July Parade in Crystal Lake, IL.

McHenry County Ethics Commission, Ethical or NOT!?!? The McHenry County Ethics Commission conducted a hearing of a complaint filed by Cal Skinner that Undersheriff Andrew Zinke used a government computer for a very politically charged email. The hearing was ran over by Zinke’s attorneys Mark Gummerson and Rebecca Lee. The sign up sheet to speak at the hearing went missing but found in the possession of Rebecca Lee. The commission went into secret session, made its decision, and did so without explanation.

Pete Gonigam, publisher of the First Electric Newspaper.

First Electric Newspaper v.s. Sheriff Nygren and EEO Officer Donald Leist Pete Gonigam won a Public Access Bureau (Illinois States Attorney) appeal for the release of a 100 page report conducted by the McHenry County Sheriff’s office. The report exonerated Undersheriff Andrew Zinke after he told Brian Goode that he and his RITA Corporation was a the focal point of a drug investigation by the DEA.

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke giving Cal Skinner the finger at the 4th of July Parade in Crystal Lake, IL.

Zinke’s middle finger may cost Cal Skinner $5,000 After filing a valid ethics complaint against Undersheriff Andrew Zinke for using a government computer for his campaign, Cal Skinner was to face Zinke’s attorney Mark Gummerson. Gummerson was lobbying for a $5,000 fine against Skinner filing a valid complaint. An act of bulling and intimidation of a McHenry County citizen.

 

Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers

Will McHenry County be Ripped Off by Special Interest in Sheriff Election? I question the interest and the contribution to Undersheriff Andrew Zinke’s campaign from the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 election. I send a letter to the President-Business Manager of the union James M. Sweeney.

 

Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers

IUOE Local 150 and Andrew Zinke. Is this Gangster Money for a Gangster Cop? The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 contributes money to Undersheriff’s Andrew Zinke’s campaign. They have known ties to the Colombo and Gambino Crime Families.

 

Cal Skinner former McHenry County Treasure and State Representative and current editor of the mchenrycountyblog.com.

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke Shuts Down Cal Skinner’s Blog Site Undersheriff Andrew Zinke’s campaign was able to get Cal Skinner’s website, mchenrycountyblog.com shut down by falsely accusing him of stalking and linking to obscene material. Read here on how Zinke’s campaign resorts to breaking the law to silence a citizen’s voice.

 

Zinke-looking-right-eyes-at-cameraAndrew Zinke Fearful to Debate Bill Prim Lies to Get Out of It. Undersheriff Andrew Zinke is so fearful to debate Bill Prim for McHenry County Sheriff that he lies to get out of it. Zinke knows that he would be out matched, outwitted, and the truth of his corrupt character would be revealed to the citizens of McHenry County. Instead of enduring such damage to his campaign he lies to coward out of it.

 

Sheriff Keith Nygren

Is Sheriff Nygren and Undersheriff Zinke Intimidating and Tampering with Federal Witnesses? Is Sheriff Nygren and Undersheriff Zinke intimidating federal witnesses? Or are the deputies fighting back? Donald Leist, the sheriff’s in house lawyer sent a letter to 30 deputies and correctional officers to be interrogated prior to their depositions in a federal case. Would that work anywhere else in the US or just McHerny County?

 

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6 Comments »

  • Nancy`Holer says:

    WOW! I, for one, do believe everything happens for a reason, tho’ we can’t accept it nor understand it! it just is what it is! Life is funny that way isn’t it?

    Not sure you’ll get my comment as I’ve never responded to any of these types of emails.

    I hope you & yours have a happy, fun, safe 4th of July! Take care!

    Nancy (Craig Wallace’s aunt from Montana)

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Thank you for that Nancy. Craig and I go way back. I even worked him into the book.

  • Duncan Mchenry says:

    Today, we think about the people that have served in behalf of our Country in order to preserve our freedoms and rights as Americans. My Uncle had been one of the remaining survivors of Normandy. Thousands of men went to battle in that war and relatively few had returned safely home in the arms of their families.. He had worked under the direction of General George Patton, as one of his Spear Headers. At the end of the war, he found himself in a Jewish concentration camp with orders to free the Jews..At some point he traveled down a path where he found himself walking into a cave. Inside, stood 2 German Soldiers. His first thought was that this encounter would surely be the end of his life. Instead, the German soldiers traded their guns in exchange for saving their lives…The soldiers were turned over as prisoners of war… I have often thought about how he might feel about what was gong on in Mchenry County. How would he have felt if he knew cases were being fixed and bribes were offered and accepted? How might feel if he knew how much the Mafia influenced our County Government ..After all, he believed that our government is suppose to be run for the people by the people. He had made heroic sacrifices to serve his county so we could all be free and safe….We were not meant to live in a Government that constantly violates our constitutional rights. And, he would have been deeply saddened by Ron Scharffs circumstances, knowing that our Government that was suppose to be protecting us, had covered up the facts of the murder to protect the ones who had committed the murder. It is everyones responsibility to protect our freedom and our rights. Corruption is an insult to those who have served our Country. When election time comes around we have the power to say no more murders that are covered up to protect criminals, no more kickbacks and bribes, no more corruption and justice and fairness for all..Happy Birthday Ron Scharff…And, a heartfelt ‘Thank You” to all those who have served our Country….

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Thank You and brilliantly said.

  • […] to Paul Shcarff and his Murder in McHenry, 1981 for info for this […]

  • Bob Custer Wilkie says:

    Dear Paul,
    Great article on the Hole In the Wall Gang!I realize tomorrow is a big anniversary for you. I am sorry about the loss of your father.
    My old colleague Larry Henry has started a Las Vegas Mafia page on Facebook you may be interested in joining. We are all contributing articles and photographs.
    Kind Regards,
    Bob Custer Wilkie

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