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Anthony Spilotro
Born May 19, 1938(1938-05-19)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died June 14, 1986 (aged 48)
Enos, Indiana, U.S.

Anthony Spilotro (May 19, 1938 – June 14, 1986) was an Italian-American mobster and enforcer for the Chicago Outfit in Las Vegas during the 1970s and 1980s. His job was to protect and oversee the Outfit's illegal casino profits (the "skim"). Spilotro replaced Outfit member Marshall Caifano in Las Vegas.


Early career

Born Anthony John Spilotro (pronounced spil-oh-tro, according to William Roemer when he asked John Spilotro how Pasquale, Sr. pronounced it[1]), he was nicknamed "Tony the Ant," by the press, after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent William F. Roemer, Jr. referred to Spilotro as "that little pissant." Since the press couldn't use "pissant," they shortened it to the "Ant." He was also called Tough Tony.

The fourth of six children, Spilotro was born and raised in Chicago. He went to Burbank Elementary School, and entered Steinmetz High School in 1953.[2] His parents, Pasquale Spilotro, Sr. (who emigrated from Triggiano, in the Italian province of Bari, from the southeastern region of Puglia, and arrived at Ellis Island in 1914) and Antoinette Spilotro, ran Patsy's Restaurant. When Pasquale, Sr. arrived in America, however, he had no money, education, or particular skill. Unlike most Italian immigrants who settled in "The Patch," (located around Taylor Street and Halsted Street, a mile from The Loop), the Spilotros lived at 2152 North Melvina Avenue. Mobsters such as Salvatore "Sam" Giancana, Jackie "The Lackey" Cerone, Gus Alex and Francesco Nitti ("Frank The Enforcer") regularly dined at Patsy's, which was on the west side at Grand Avenue and Ogden Avenue, using its parking lot for mob meetings. In 1954, Patsy, Sr. suffered a fatal aneurysm and died at the age of fifty-five.

Along with his brothers John, Vincent, Victor, and Michael, Tony became involved in criminal activity early in life. Another of Tony's brothers, Pasquale Spilotro, Jr., went on to college and became a highly respected oral surgeon in the Chicago area. Tony dropped out of Chicago's Steinmetz High School in his sophomore year and quickly became known for a succession of petty crimes such as shoplifting and purse snatching, with his first arrest occurring on January 11, 1955. He attempted to steal a shirt from a River Forest store and was charged with larceny. He was fined $10 and placed on probation.

Spilotro and Rosenthal

Bookmaker Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal was first linked to Spilotro in 1962, when Spilotro pleaded guilty to attempted bribery of a New York University basketball player in a game against West Virginia University. The FBI and New York State authorities also suspected that Spilotro tried to bribe a University of Oregon football player,but were never able to find evidence to make a case in that instance.

Spilotro became a marked man to local law enforcement. He was arrested numerous times for mopery, a vague and a spurious criminal charge defined as "walking down the street with no clear destination or purpose." Spilotro befriended Vincent Inserro, who introduced him to Chicago Outfit higher ups, such as Joseph Aiuppa ("Joey Doves"), James Torello ("Jimmy the Turk"), Joseph Lombardo ("Joey the Clown") and William Daddano, Sr. ("Willie Potatoes"), all of whom were successfully climbing the ranks of the Chicago mob. Spilotro joined the crew led by Sam DeStefano ("Mad Sam") and was also mentored by Felix Alderisio ("Milwaukee Phil") and Charles Nicoletti ("Chuckie"). Spilotro became a "Made Man" in 1963, after squeezing a man's head in an industrial vise to get a confession, and was assigned to a large bookmaking operation. For a while, Spilotro was a bail bondsman for reputed mob associate Irwin "Red" Weiner.

Government informants

The FBI first "flipped" Charles "Chuckie" Crimaldi, a former associate of Sam DeStefano. Crimaldi had been a "juice collector" for DeStefano during the 1950s and 1960s. Crimaldi gave evidence against Spilotro and DeStefano in the murder of real estate agent-loan shark Leo Foreman on November 19, 1963. DeStefano and Spilotro were both acquitted. Crimaldi also provided information on his part in luring William "Action" Jackson to his death. Jackson was another loan shark and enforcer who worked for DeStefano and had been indicted on a hijacking charge. DeStefano suspected Jackson of cutting a deal with the FBI in exchange for a lighter sentence, after Jackson was allegedly spotted with agents in a Milwaukee restaurant owned by Louis Fazio, a DeStefano associate. FBI agent Roemer denied Jackson had cut any deal with the agency.

Later, Sal Romano, a member of the Hole in the Wall Gang that specialized in disabling alarm systems, became a government informant. Romano worked counter-surveillance during the July 4 1981 burglary at Bertha's jewelry store in Las Vegas. Unbeknown to Spilotro, his brother John, partner Herbie Blitzstein, and the Hole in the Wall Gang burglars, Romano had turned informant several months earlier; federal agents and police were waiting for the burglars when the heist at Bertha's went down.

Spilotro's boyhood friend, Frank Cullotta, admitted that for many years he'd done "muscle work" on Spilotro's behalf, including setting up the 1962 "M&M Murders" of James Miraglia and Billy McCarthy.[3] Spilotro had been ordered by outfit bosses to track down and kill the two men after they robbed and murdered three people in a suburban Chicago neighborhood where several members of the Chicago Outfit lived, territory that was considered off limits to criminal activity.

After his own arrest in the attempted Bertha's burglary, Cullotta subsequently became a federal witness, or a "snitch" to save himself, after he thought Spilotro was out to kill him. In November 1981, Cullotta was arrested for a previous burglary, in which a woman's home was broken into and her furniture stolen. The furniture was later found in Cullotta's home, which led to his indictment on possession of stolen property. Cullotta also admitted Spilotro ordered him in 1979 to murder Las Vegas mob associate, Sherwin "Jerry" Lisner.

Las Vegas authorities discovered that Spilotro had ordered Hole in the Wall Gang member Lawrence Neumann ("Crazy Larry"), 53, of McHenry, Illinois, to murder Cullotta and fellow burglar, Wayne Matecki, 30, of Norridge, Illinois.

Cullotta, who has publicly admitted to being a killer himself, supplied information about the M&M murders. Neumann tried to post bail for Cullotta so he could murder both Cullotta and Matecki, but the police had Cullotta's bail revoked to protect him. Cullotta received eight years on the stolen property charges. In September 1983, Spilotro was indicted in Las Vegas, Nevada on murder and racketeering charges based on Cullotta's testimony, but the charges didn't hold up.

Meanwhile, Spilotro was tried before Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Maloney, in Chicago, for the Miraglia and McCarthy killings, while Cullotta's foiled executioner Neumann was sentenced to life in prison in 1983. Judge Maloney did not accept Cullotta's statements as evidence or as proof "beyond a reasonable doubt." The judge, in turn, acquitted Spilotro. (In 1992, Judge Maloney was convicted through Operation Greylord of accepting bribes in several unrelated cases, including murder cases.)[4]

Cullotta testified before the President's Commission on Organized Crime, the Florida Governor's Commission on Organized Crime and appeared at a sentencing hearing for the Chicago mobster Joseph Lombardo. Cullotta later served as a technical advisor for the movie Casino, and also played a small role as Curly, one of Remo Gaggi's hitmen.

Las Vegas

In 1971, Spilotro succeeded Marshall Caifano as the Mob's representative in Las Vegas. Spilotro reunited with his boyhood friend Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran several Outfit-backed casinos, including the Stardust. Spilotro's legal counsel in Vegas was provided by Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas's current mayor.

Spilotro and Rosenthal worked together to embezzle profits from the casinos (i.e., "the skim"), which were then sent back to The Outfit and other Midwestern Mafia families, such as Kansas City, St. Louis and Milwaukee. On his own, Spilotro (under the alias Tony Stuart) took over the gift shop at the Circus-Circus Hotel, a "family" hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel offered first-class entertainment for children, while their parents gambled in the casino. Parts of the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever were shot there. In 1971, the hotel was owned by Jay Sarno, who had purchased the property with a $43 million loan from the The Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. In 1974, Circus-Circus was sold; for Spilotro's $70,000 investment, he received $700,000. In 1972, Spilotro was indicted in Chicago for the murder of Leo Foreman, a real estate agent/loan shark, who had made the mistake of throwing Sam DeStefano out of his office, in May 1963. Foreman was eventually lured to Sam's home to play cards. There, Foreman was tortured by repeatedly being stabbed with an ice pick and had pieces of his flesh cut out, before being shot and killed.

In 1976, Spilotro opened The Gold Rush, Ltd. with Chicago bookmaker Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein and brother Michael Spilotro. The Gold Rush, located one block from the Las Vegas Strip, was a combination jewelry store and electronics factory. Here Spilotro, brother John and Blitzstein gained expertise in fencing stolen goods.

Where Rosenthal was responsible for the actual management of the casinos, Spilotro's primary task was to control casino employees and other personnel involved in the skim/embezzlement scheme. Spilotro's role as enforcer, however, was severely curtailed after he was blacklisted by the Nevada Gaming Commission, in December 1979 (then chaired by current United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), a ruling that legally prevented Spilotro from being physically present in any Nevada casino. He was blacklisted as a direct result of court testimony of Aladena "Jimmy The Weasel" Fratianno, following his arrest, in 1977.

The Hole in the Wall Gang

Spilotro, in 1976, formed a burglary ring with his brother Michael and Blitzstein, utilizing about eight associates as burglars. The crew became known as the Hole in the Wall Gang because of its penchant for gaining entry by drilling through the exterior walls and ceilings of the buildings they burglarized. The Hole in the Wall Gang operated out of The Gold Rush, Ltd. Other gang members included Samuel Cusumano, Joseph Cusumano, Ernesto "Ernie" Davino, 34, Las Vegas, "Crazy Larry" Neumann, Matecki, Salvatore "Sonny" Romano, Leonardo "Leo" Guardino, 47, Las Vegas, Frank Cullotta, 43, Las Vegas, and former Las Vegas detective, Joseph Blasko, 45, Las Vegas, who acted as a lookout and who later worked as a bartender at the Crazy Horse Too, a gentleman's club, and died of a heart attack in 2002.[5]

Following the botched burglary at Bertha's Household Products on July 4, 1981, Cullotta, Blasko, Guardino, Davino, Neumann, and Matecki were arrested and each charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted grand larceny and possession of burglary tools. They were locked into the Las Vegas police department's holding cell in downtown Las Vegas. The only members of Spilotro's gang not arrested for the July 4 burglary was Blitzstein, Michael, Romano and Cusumano.

By this time, Spilotro's relationship with Rosenthal had collapsed, as Tony had had an affair with Rosenthal's wife, Geraldine McGee Rosenthal. Meanwhile, Cullotta had turned state's witness, testifying against Spilotro. But the testimony was insufficient and Tony was acquitted.


In January 1986, a meeting was held at the Czech Lodge in North Riverside. Most of the upper echelon was there, including Tony Accardo. He had decided to appoint Joseph Ferriola as boss. Ferriola told the group that Accardo would stay on as consigliere and would have final say, as well as Gus Alex staying head of the connection guys. He then went onto the first problem: Spilotro. How things have gone down since he took over Vegas. Rocco Infelice said, "Hit him." Everyone else at the meeting was in agreement. Joe Ferriola closed the meeting with, "OK, that's it, I got nothin' else."[6]

It is suspected that Spilotro and his brother Michael were called by Samuel Carlisi to a meeting at a hunting lodge owned by Spilotro's former mob boss, Joey Aiuppa. Original reports stated the Spilotros were savagely beaten and buried alive in a cornfield in Enos, Indiana.[7] They were identified by their brother Pasquale, Jr. through dental x-ray records.[8] However, in 2007, mob assassin Nicholas Calabrese testified at the "Operation Family Secrets" trial in Chicago that the brothers were killed in a Bensenville, Illinois, basement where the Spilotros believed that Michael would be inducted into The Outfit. According to court testimony, when Tony entered the basement and realized what was about to occur, he asked if he could "say a prayer".

An autopsy performed on the recovered bodies allegedly found sand in the brothers' lungs, leading FBI examiners to speculate that they had been buried alive. Later testimony proved they were killed in a basement and their bodies later dumped in a grave. No arrests were made until April 25, 2005, when 14 members of the Chicago Outfit (including reputed boss James Marcello) were indicted for 18 murders, including the Spilotros'. As a result of that investigation, the murders of the Spilotro brothers are now thought to have taken place in DuPage County, Illinois — in Joseph Aiuppa's hunting lodge, where they were beaten and strangled before being buried in a cornfield alongside Highway 41 in northwest Indiana. At the time of Spilotro's murder, Aiuppa was in prison, but Spilotro must have thought the building was still in use as a hunting lodge.

The suspected murderers included caporegime Albert Tocco from Chicago Heights, Illinois, who was sentenced to 200 years after his wife Betty testified against him in 1989. She claimed that the day after the Spilotro murders, she was called to pick up Tocco 1mi (1.6 km) from where the brothers' bodies would later be found. She said that Tocco was dressed in dirty blue work clothes. Betty Tocco further implicated Nicholas "Nicky" Guzzino, Dominic "Tootsie" Palermo and Albert "Chickie" Rovero in the Spilotro brothers' murders. Tocco died at the age of 77 in an Indiana prison on September 21, 2005.

Another suspect in the murders was Frank "The German" Schweihs, a convicted extortionist and alleged Chicago assassin, who was suspected of involvement in several murders including the Spilotros, Allen Dorfman (of the Teamster's Pension Fund), and a former girlfriend. Schweihs was arrested by the FBI on December 22, 2005. At the time, Schweihs was a fugitive living in a Berea, Kentucky apartment complex. Schweihs had slipped away before prosecutors were able to arrest him and 13 others, including reputed Chicago mob boss James Marcello.

On May 18, 2007, the star witness in the government's case against 14 Chicago mob figures, Nicholas Calabrese, pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy that included 18 murders, including hits on Anthony Spilotro and Spilotro's brother, Michael, in 1986.

Under heavy security, Calabrese admitted that he took part in planning or carrying out 14 of the murders, including the Spilotro killings. Calabrese became the key witness against his brother, Frank Calabrese, Sr., and other major mob figures charged in the government's Operation Family Secrets investigation. The investigation was aimed at clearing up old, unsolved gangland killings and bringing down Chicago's organized crime family.

Nicholas Calabrese agreed to testify in what became known as the Family Secrets Trial after the FBI showed him DNA evidence to link him to the murder of fellow hit-man John Fecarotta, who was also allegedly involved in the Spilotro slayings. Frank Calabrese, Sr.'s trial in Chicago's Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse began on June 19, 2007, and ended on September 10, 2007, with the conviction of Frank Calabrese, Sr. and four other men associated with the Chicago mob: Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul "the Indian" Schiro, and a former Chicago police officer, Anthony "Twan" Doyle.[9][10]

On September 27, 2007, Marcello was found guilty by a federal jury in the murders of both Spilotro brothers. On February 5, 2009, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murders.

Spilotro was replaced in Las Vegas by Donald "The Wizard of Odds" Angelini. Spilotro is survived by his wife Nancy, his son Vincent and his remaining brothers.


By the time of his death in 1986, the FBI suspected Spilotro responsible of at least 22 murders.[11] Spilotro was indicted in 1983[12] for his role in the murders of Bill McCarthy and James Miraglia, popularized in the press as the "M&M Murders." McCarthy and Miraglia were two young robbers who had robbed and shot two businessmen and a woman in the mobster-populated neighborhood of Elmwood Park, near Chicago. They were also in debt to Spilotro's old boss, Sam DeStefano. Their bodies were discovered on May 15, 1962, in the trunk of a car dumped on the Southwest Side of Chicago. Both had been beaten badly and had their throats slit. From McCarthy's injuries, it seems his head was placed in a vise, popping out his eye, presumably to persuade him to disclose the whereabouts of Miraglia. The murder of Bill McCarthy (re-named "Tony Dogs") is included in Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino.

Spilotro may have been involved in the attempted car bombing murder of Lefty Rosenthal on October 4, 1982. He was also incriminated in the murder of his onetime mentor "Mad" Sam DeStefano on April 15, 1973, while DeStefano, his brother Mario and Spilotro were all facing trial for the murder of Leo Foreman, a local collector for the mob, who had been tortured to death in Sam DeStefano's basement. Spilotro is further suspected of murdering real estate heiress Tamara Rand; Teamsters Union executive Allen Dorfman; and Danny Siefert, the manager of the International Fiber Glass Company. Siefert was to be a principal witness in the fraud case but was shot in front of his wife and four-year-old son in September 1974. The fiberglass company was later burned to the ground by arsonists, whereupon they claimed the insurance money.

According to former Willow Springs, Illinois, police chief Michael Corbitt, rumors on the street implicated Spilotro in the murder of former Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana[citation needed]. The FBI believes Spilotro was also involved in the torture murder of loan shark enforcer William "Action" Jackson[citation needed], who worked for DeStefano in the 1950s and 1960s. The Chicago Outfit thought Jackson had become an FBI informant in 1961. Spilotro allegedly took Jackson to a meat packing plant, where he hung him by a meat hook inside the rectum and then crippled Jackson by smashing his knees with a hammer and poking his genitals with an electric cattle prod. Jackson was left near death for three days before finally succumbing to his injuries.

Film portrayal

Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino is based on the lives of Spilotro and Frank Rosenthal. The character Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, is based on Spilotro. Pesci's character of Nicky Santoro and his brother Dominic (Philip Suriano), based on Tony's brother Michael Spilotro, are shown being beaten and buried alive by Frank Marino (Frank Vincent), who collaborated in the murders because he wanted "no more" of their dirty work. Other members of Nicky's previous crew (Clem Caserta, Jed Mills) and Chicago Outfit hitmen (Michael Toney, Steve Vignari), also participate in the beatings.

On the 1980's NBC series Crime Story, the character of mobster Ray Luca is based on Anthony Spilotro.


  1. ^ Roemer, William F., Jr. (1994). The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man Over Las Vegas. The Ballantine Publishing Group. pp. 189 and 190. ISBN 0-8041-1310-6. 
  2. ^ Roemer, William F., Jr. (1994). The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man Over Las Vegas. The Ballantine Publishing Group. p. 9. ISBN 0-8041-1310-6. 
  3. ^ "Spilotro, Anthony - The Free Information Society". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "News: Former detective fired for Mafia link dies at 67". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  6. ^ Roemer, William F., Jr. (1994). The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man Over Las Vegas. The Ballantine Publishing Group. pp. 262-265. ISBN 0-8041-1310-6. 
  7. ^ "Spilotro, Anthony - The Free Information Society". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  8. ^ Roemer, William F., Jr. (1994). The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man Over Las Vegas. The Ballantine Publishing Group. p. 272. ISBN 0-8041-1310-6. 
  9. ^ Mike Robinson (19 May 2007). "CHICAGO'S ORGANIZED CRIME FAMILY: Guilty plea entered in Spilotro hits in '86". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Topic Galleries".,1,7479574.story?coll=chi-news-hed&?track=sto-topstory. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  11. ^ "News: CHICAGO MOB TARGETED: Goodman, family pleased wit". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  12. ^ "Dorfman Associate Indicted". New York Times. January 28, 1983. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 


  • Coen, Jeff. Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob Chicago Review Press, Incorporated: 2009. ISBN 978-1-55652-781-4
  • Griffin, Dennis. The Battle for Las Vegas : The Law Vs. the Mob Huntington Press: 2006. ISBN 0929712374
  • Griffin, Dennis. Cullotta - The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness Huntington Press: 2007. ISBN 0929712455
  • Pileggi, Nicholas. Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, ISBN 0684808323
  • Roemer, William F., Jr. The Enforcer- Spilotro: The Chicago Mob's Man in Las Vegas, ISBN 0804113106

External links

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