I want thank everyone for stopping by and joining in the fun!! I want to give a special thank all the guest on my blog. I have so much fun and looking forward to Good Friday Blog Special… 2015 🙂
Now, it time to reveal my very special guest interview!!!
Today I interviewing him all kinds of questions that you’ll enjoy as much I did when I read it. With that said, let’s get to it!!
1. What started you into writing? I began writing in late 1994 because I wanted to tell the story of the last case I investigated before retiring from New York State. It was very odd and involved a county medical examiner stealing bodies. I wrote it as a fiction titled The Morgue and self-published it in 1996. I hadn’t intended to write anything else, but I guess I was hooked.
2. How did you get into The Las Vegas Mafia? In 2001 I was writing mystery/thriller fiction and treading water. I was considering getting out of the writing business and finding another hobby. I mentioned that to a lady I met at a writers’ conference. She said that with my background in law enforcement and investigations I should consider switching to nonfiction police history and/or true crime. I decided to give it a try and contacted Las Vegas Metro to see if they’d approve me to write the department’s history. They did and assigned an officer to assist me and Policing Las Vegas was published in 2005. In it I did a section about organized crime and the Tony Spilotro era in Vegas. That led me to do another book titled The Battle for Las Vegas – The Law vs. the Mob. It was an in-depth account of the Spilotro era and was released in 2006. After that I wrote one more fiction to complete a trilogy I had started. Now I only write true crime stuff.
3. What interest you to write about the mafia? I really enjoyed writing about the Mob and through my research I was put in contact with Frank Cullotta, Tony Spilotro’s boyhood friend in Chicago and his street lieutenant in Las Vegas. Frank and I eventually agreed that I’d write his biography, CULLOTTA, which was published in 2007. I began to develop a reputation as a Mob writer and historian and was contacted by another former mobster, Andrew DiDonato, to write his biography of his tears as an associate of New York’s Gambino crime family. Surviving The Mob was published in 2011. These books resulted in additional requests for me to write other crime-related books. I had found my niche!
4. What kind of research do you do? What was most exciting thing that you have done due to your writing? I research online for articles, records and other documents related to my subject. However, my favorite part of research is interviewing sources in person or by phone. During my years in investigations I learned that you learn a lot more when you’re listening to your source than when you’re talking and became an effective interviewer. I apply those same techniques when doing my research interviews.
My successes in writing opened doors for me in another exciting aspect of the business: promotion. I had no experience in public speaking until I had to give a talk about The Morgue in front of over 100 women. I don’t think I’d ever been that scared before, but I survived it and was told I did quite well. After that I did some bookstore signings but very little speaking until I made the switch to nonfiction. I became a regular panelist at the Clark County Library’s annual Mob Month with crowds of between 300 and 500 people. I had a PowerPoint created called Las Vegas and the Mob and began doing both public and private presentations. And because I have access to several former mobsters that you won’t find listed in the phone book, I’m routinely contacted by documentary producers wanting to get in touch with them to discuss possible projects. I appeared personally as a Mob historian in an episode of Mobster Confessions. I was also in two episodes of Ghost Adventures when they investigated locations that had been reputed Mob hangouts. I’m currently involved with the Vegas Mob Tour as a consultant, and in Mob-Con, which is co-produced by Frank Cullotta and Robert George Allen.
These things and my writing keep me pretty busy, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.
5. Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre? I have no desire to write in any other genre. I’m happy where I am and plan to stay there.
6. What are some of your favorite things to do? When I’m not busy with something writing-related my wife and I like to travel, and I enjoy music—especially the oldies. I also read and partake in games of chance once in a while. And when I’m back in central New York for the summers I do some part time work as a private investigator.
7. What tools do you use to interview someone? I mentioned earlier that I use the same techniques in my research interviews that I did when I was working. By that I mean putting my sources at ease and developing a sense of trust and confidence. I answer their questions honestly and explain how any information they provide will be used. I prefer to be able to name my sources, but will let them remain anonymous if they request it and have a valid reason. After all the preliminary stuff is out of the way, I ask my question and then shut up and listen. As I said previously, it’s hard to learn much if you’re the one doing all the talking.
8. If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why? If a potential reader asked me which of my books to read first, I’d want to know if their primarily interest is in fiction or nonfiction. If fiction, I’d suggest The Morgue if they might like something offbeat. Otherwise, I’d recommend my trilogy featuring a male/female team of Las Vegas Metro homicide detectives. The first book is Killer In Pair-A-Dice, followed by One-Armed Bandit and Vegas Vixen. For anyone preferring nonfiction, I’d suggest they start with The Battle for Las Vegas, followed by CULLOTTA, Surviving The Mob and Hole in the Wall Gang.
9. What exciting story are you working on next? I’m currently working with my friend and co-author Morgan St. James, on a book about a well-known Las Vegas personality who was also an organized crime associate and an abuser. We hope to have the manuscript finished and ready for the publisher by late summer. This book will raise a lot of eyebrows, especially in Las Vegas. I have another crime book in the works, but can’t say anything further for the time being.
What a great interview that I’m Looking forward of see what Dennis’s next book will be all about, knowing Dennis next book will be the talk of Las Vegas!
A Blogger’s View of Authors and Social Media by Paula Radell When Alexandra invited me to do this guest post, she didn’t give me a topic ~ she simply asked me to write about a something I’m passionate about. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time – too much time, probably – thinking about what might be meaningful to post on an author’s blog; something that would encourage, inform, perhaps even inspire its readers to learn more about a subject I’m personally passionate about: the impact of social media in the literary world. Social media is powerful and ever-present. It is instant, immediate, and because it consists of user-generated content, it is impossible to control. As a result it can make or break all types of businesses, large and small. Think about the YouTube video showing Domino’s pizza employees who filmed themselves “contaminating” take-out orders. Talk about being caught with your pants down?! That video went viral before the executives at Domino’s knew what hit them, and they had no defense for it. Speaking from painful personal experience, social media can also make and break relationships faster than the blink of an eye. Tweets and posts can be copied and forwarded by anyone, any time, for better or for worse. So take it from me, if you don’t want to see your words, innermost thoughts & fears, confessions or photos splattered across the web or through e-mail for the whole world to see, keep them to yourself. Trust is a rare commodity in a competitive world, and social media can either bring out the best or worst in us. Because of its relative anonymity, it can be unrelentingly cruel and unforgiving as well. Avoid those who don’t encourage and uplift you; cherish those who do. Let me begin by saying that I do not hold myself out as an expert at being an author, a blogger, or even a social media “consumer”. I’ve only been a presence on social media for a little over a year; a blogger for a little less than that; and I’ve yet to finish my first chapter of “my” book. I will also admit that as a newbie on social media over the past year or so, I’ve made some embarrassing mistakes born of naiveté, misplaced trust, and words I can’t take back. It’s been a continuous learning process, exciting and sometimes even agonizing, but worth every minute of it. For those of you who may have read my blog, visited my Facebook page, or seen me on Twitter (@Lady_LovesBooks), you probably already know that I recently quit my full-time career in healthcare to pursue my passion for and fascination with social media marketing, with a goal of developing the credibility and business acumen necessary to actively support and promote independent, self-published authors. What was once an idle interest born of an addiction to reading has now become a full-time commitment to observing and studying social media, and helping new authors get the recognition they deserve by reading, reviewing, supporting the writing process, and promoting their work. So why the fascination with social media? For one thing, there is no question that it is here to stay. Web 2.0 has been called “the second coming” of the internet – bringing new life, immediacy, and interactivity to the world of news, marketing, and social communications, consisting primarily of communities of like-minded individuals with common interests. Currently, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ are considered the leaders in social media; but everyone wonders what the “next big thing” might be, and right now, out there somewhere, someone is working on it. All authors need to take advantage of social media to reach their audience, but independent authors have the most to gain or lose. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s free, and with a unique selling proposition, followers and fans will find you. Used properly, these followers and fans will become your biggest supporters; used abusively or without sincerity, they can also become your biggest detractors. This is word-of-mouth marketing 101: every encounter leaves an impression; make it count in your favor. Knowing how to navigate and use various types of social media effectively and appropriately can make all the difference between success and failure. Here are a few facts to consider when thinking about the value of understanding and using the power of social media:
- From its launch in 2004 through the end of 2012, Facebook gained more than 845 million active users.
- Twitter has more than 500 million users that generate well over 340 million unique tweets per day (unique = not counting re-tweets).
- Within 16 days of its launch, Google+ gained over 10 million active users.
- YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world – only Google generates more searches on a daily basis. YouTube reports more than 4 billion views per day, more than 800 million unique users per day, and over 600 million mobile views per day. YouTube has, in and of itself, launched entire businesses.
- In early 2012, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, had more than 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
- With respect to the power of reviews that are publicly posted on social media, blogs and other reader-focused web sites, Nielsen research has demonstrated that 70% of people trust reviews; that number rises to 90% if they know the person who wrote them. All authors know that reviews are a critical component of success or failure, making it important to be visible, promote relentlessly, and – equally important -develop trusting relationships with bloggers, reviewers and the larger reading audience.
- Amazon.com is considered by many experts to be the “king” of user-generated content, because it encourages everyone who makes a purchase to rate and review it. It ranks highly among experts because it is very timely and the content generated by its users is relevant – it answers a searcher’s questions; in this example, what to read next. In addition, it is powerful enough to take the next step and recommend, based on previous purchases and searches, what a reader might also like, using personal language such as “if you like this, you might also like…” and “people who bought this book also bought…”. Ratings on sites like Amazon and Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) heavily influence a reader’s purchasing decisions.
For a busy author who simply wants to write and let someone else take care of the promotional work, using social media is a choice; but it should be a thoughtful one. Some of the busiest, hardest-working authors I have had the pleasure of meeting through social media regard it as a priceless tool for building relationships, and therefore “brand loyalty”. Some are much more effective than others; the ones that are most effective know that “word of mouth” is still THE #1 marketing strategy in the world, and no one can be successful without it. Social media is exactly that – the fastest, most immediate word-of-mouth vehicle that currently exists for the purpose of marketing. When advising authors as a free-lance consultant and a student of social media, I always encourage them to establish a unique, personal presence on Twitter and Facebook at the least. The evidence shows that a loyal audience is only a click away, and readers are more than willing and eager to communicate with the authors they admire. Once author-reader relationships are established, whether formal (e.g., a “street team” or a fan club) or informal (simple tweets and conversations), these readers become your biggest, most vocal supporters. Authors I consider role models in engaging readers through social media are Deborah Harkness (the All Souls Trilogy), Sylvain Reynard (the Gabriel Emerson series), Meredith Wild (the Hardwired series), Sydney Jamesson (The Story of Us trilogy), Christina Lauren (actually two authors, famous for the Beautiful series), E.A. Stanbridge (Blogger, “Captive in the Storm”), and A.J. Linn (A Gentleman’s Affair & A Gentleman’s Secret). All of the successful authors I have the privilege to know understand that there are 8 basic rules to engage followers. They are:
- Transparency – Be who you are. You can’t farm this out. Followers and fans can tell if you are disingenuous, or if you’ve hired a promoter to do your tweets and posts for you.
- Be friendly and open. Remember that it’s not all about you. Readers want to know that you care about them, value their feedback, and appreciate their support.
- Be diplomatic and tempered. All people have to base their perceptions on is words on a page. Words can be used to uplift or discourage; they easy to post but nearly impossible to take back. NEVER detract from your perceived competitors in the literary world; there are plenty of readers out there for everyone, and it will backfire on you every time. Your public face is your reputation; those who work with you represent YOU. Make sure that what people see is a professional, a colleague, a member of a larger community albeit in a competitive industry.
- Be easy and colloquial. Basically, don’t be stuffy and critical. Be approachable. Communicate naturally. Use your sense of humor liberally. Show your human side.
- Be open to criticism. This is not to say be accepting of unacceptable behavior; it simply means to learn from the feedback you receive, IF it is well intentioned.
- Be ready to fix. If you do something that you regret – or should regret – be humble enough to admit it and apologize. A sincere apology is often the most effective way to restore trust, and with trust comes loyalty.
- Be ready to friend and follow. This is common, simple etiquette. Yes, your timeline can be packed full of conversations you don’t want to see – so manage it using lists. Thank new followers and welcome them to your TL.
- Post timely and interesting content. You don’t have to post any more often than you have time to do so, and you certainly don’t have to respond to every tweet or post, but the investment of that time has value to your followers. Respond as promptly as you can, when you can. Engage followers early and keep them engaged with updates, teasers and news. Celebrate your good reviews and thank those who gave them. What you do with bad reviews is up to you, but I suggest tactfully responding, even thanking the reviewer; or simply ignoring them. Avoid too much shameless self-promotion; it is a real turn-off and makes you appear self-absorbed, even arrogant. Maintain a sense of humility and humanity.
Social media is full of people in all walks of life, at every rung on the popularity ladder, who don’t follow these simple rules of social media relations. We’ve all seen it, and probably experienced it: powerful and not-so-powerful people who are discourteous, defensive, aggressive, insulting, self-serving, protective, insensitive, argumentative, spammy, ingratiating, and – almost worse – automated, using a service or another person to tweet or post disengaged, empty, canned responses. You get what you give, and if you use these self-destructive tactics, you get what you deserve. I would love to hear your comments on this opinion piece – and engage in a discussion about it with you, if you are interested. Contact me on my blog, http://curlupandread.com. Thank you, Alexandra, for the invitation to post some thoughts here today. I’ll see you on Facebook, in the Twitterverse or the Blogosphere… Paula Radell
Time to take a closer look on the other side of the American Justice System with this mind blowing interview!! I sat down with Ronald Fino, whom is a noted Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency undercover operative and author of The Triangle Exit on of the best books that I had read, and as well my very good friend. I happen to have meet Ronald at the last year’s Mob-Con, He was one of the first people whom I’ve met that night, and we really became fast friends.
I hope that you all enjoy this treat.
1. Reading your book was such a fascinated read, about your life as the heir to the Buffalo mafia’s throne that turned his back to fight for the rights of American Justice. This book reads like a thriller movie as he walks along on a dangers path between good and evil. Could you sum up what you did so my reader can under you story? I was never the heir to the throne. I was born in Buffalo, New York. My father Joe rose through the ranks of the Buffalo Mafia under long-time mob boss Stefano Magaddino, attaining the rank of captain, overseeing his own crew.
I joined the corrupt Laborers’ Local 210, controlled by Magaddino, and after years of experiencing the corruption up close, I decided to run for business manager and clean up the union. After an overly successful election, I found that the power did not lie with the union, but powerful members of the Buffalo Mafia.
Not long after I made the dangerous decision to become a contract employee for the FBI and for 17 years reported everything he learned about the Buffalo Mafia back to them. After his cover was corrupted he went to work undercover in Russia, the Middle East, Belarus and was in the middle of international arms negotiations and tried to broker peace in The Gambia after a coup ousted their president.
I have been around the world three times, and seen and heard more than most could only imagine, I have had his cover nearly compromised numerous times.
I have taught at FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, the CIA in McClain VA, worked in Moscow, Russia, Toronto, Ontario, Washington. DC, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Buffalo, NY.
The threat from Russian organized crime in the United States has been a major concern for sometime. Most would agree that increased organized crime activity is widespread and rapidly growing. Its ability to change methods of operations creates a difficult challenge for law enforcement and society as a whole.
Russian organized crime (ROC) is increasingly complicated to investigate. The crimes are committed after careful planning and involve several Russian criminal groups and networks and include people forced to support the criminal activity. They have no limitations or boundaries and you will find Russian organized crime benefiting from the sales of fruit juice to supplying terrorist with weaponry.
Public unawareness and the limitation of financial and human resources have and do create a serious obstacle for law enforcement. Equally troublesome is in cutting thru the red tape involved in obtaining quality information relating ROC international activity. Treaties and dependence on other countries intelligence and enforcement organizations severely disrupt conducting a proper investigation.
In Russia and many Eastern European countries, graft is a way of life and is expected. Many positions in their respective governments are bought and require a hefty payment or an ability to reward. As an example: Vladimir Loginov who is currently the head of the State owned operation (Soyuzplodoimport) that handles the export of all Russian alcoholic beverages. He is by law is supposed to answer to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kremlin. This in reality is not the case and his appointment was brought about by Russian criminal elements and in return he utilizes his office to further their exploits. The same holds true for steel manufacturing, medical supplies and just about every industry. What compounds the problem is that the very law enforcement officials that are supposed to protect the public are also controlled by ROC. While attending a meeting in Moscow I have witnessed to some extent just how vast the ROC network is in this country and its ties to Moscow, Minsk, Kiev and other locations in Eastern Europe. Anyone that thinks that they do not deal with terrorist or are in no way connected to terror does not understand ROC.
As ROC activity in the USA expands so does the migration of its members and their criminal associates. No longer is it confined to NYC, Chicago, LA and Boston. Today the networks operate in each and every State and their illegal activity runs the gamut from stolen cars, phony charities, false ID’s, passports, visas, stealing state secret, child porn, illegal arms, money laundering, narcotics, fraudulent insurance claims, medical bills, cyber crime and on and on.
In my opinion the key to fighting the real red menace is through quality intelligence and fortunately ROC operations can be penetrated. It takes hard work and time but their very greed and looseness of structure (unlike the Cosa Nostra) opens them to infiltration. The next step is to pierce the ubiquitous corporate structures that are created to show legitimacy as well as confuse the investigator. With most ROC members a 3-5 year jail sentence is not enough to flip and the preference is to do the time. If however a ROC member or associate is facing a long hard sentence and believes that his cooperation will remain clandestine then substantial information relating to ROC networks and its criminal exploits here and abroad can be obtained.
Since the World Trades Center disaster, American law enforcement agencies have had to change there priorities and utilize limited resources to combat terrorism and its threat against our homeland and people. Most of us know that America is at war and it will take diligence and many years of hardship before it is won. This redirection is known by criminal groups such as ROC and they fully know how to exploit it. The ATF is now heavily focused on explosives and provides only a few agents to investigate criminal tobacco and liquor crimes. The vast abundance of sea containers coming here are a burdening problem for customs agents. The same holds true for the Bureau who has had to meet the substantial challenges posed by terrorists. We must not lose sight however that many Eastern European criminals are without conscience and are involved with numerous terrorist groups throughout the world including those directly and indirectly threatening our nation. Democracy’s and there basic freedoms afford a prime opportunity for ROC to branch out and exploit an unknowing public.
I found working in the arms smuggling arena one of the most trying times I have ever experienced. We are in trouble folks, as long as this practice continues. I chased Victor Bout, the noted arms smuggler that is currently awaiting trial in the United States.
He is only the tip of the iceberg and in my book I delve deeper into the arcane world of trafficking and the eventual tools that kill people throughout the world. It is not an easy task in tracking down these criminals of society. It is a world shrouded in mystery and Intrigue. This is a big money business with people here and abroad that reap the whirlwind of profits from this inhuman practice.
I know that governments do it to keep countries aligned with them which is an unfortunate practice that reflects loudly on our dark side.
Mankind is still riddled with this primal instinct that somehow must be overcome. How? Now one has a simple or a long answer and only time can and the good efforts from good hearts can act as a challenge. As Governments and as individuals we must find a way or our very survival will be the price we pay.
2. What make you pick the FBI/CIA over the Mafia? I never liked what the mob was doing to innocent people.
3. Have your job ever took you to Las Vegas back in the day? Yes, I testified in the killing of Herbie Blitstein killing case. Before that I would meet with many mobsters from around the USA at Labor Union conventions. I was a close friend of the now deceased Dennis Gomes, who was the Chief Executive officer of the Tropicana
4. One of the question I been wanting to ask you, how did you wind up being a speaker at Mob-Con? I have testified in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Newark, Las Vegas, Albany, Cleveland, and Detroit against the mob. I Knew more Cosa Nostra and Chicago outfit leaders and mobsters then the mobsters themselves. I think it is a great venue to not only tell the role that justice played but equally to hear the mobsters who are doing the right thing “going straight” and telling their side of the story. The public has a great opportunity to actually meet the very people that movies such as Goodfellas are based on.
5. What was Russia like? Do you missed it? I enjoyed Russia and especially Belarus very much. The people I met there are just that people. Same wants and needs. I developed friends at the highest level of their respective government(s) and listened to their side of the story. While there I met my wife and my youngest son was born there.
6. Do you want to say anymore in this interview?
For far too long; many in the public have been enamored with the mob and its criminal acts.
The fascination with this cold-blooded brotherhood that is embedded in their very being is mostly the result of Hollywood’s glamorization of the Mafia and organized crime.
I have heard; “well, they do not cause me any problems” or “the FBI is out to get them even if it means framing them.” Some naively go as far as saying; “If they criminals why haven’t they been convicted and put in jail?
This is most unfortunate because they do hurt each and every one of us in North America and many other countries around the world. Does anyone really think that their activities are limited to gambling and labor racketeering?
Take only a few moments and if you ponder over the things that hurt you and your family such as: contaminated soil, the air you breath, the taxes you pay, the politicians you elect, the high price of food, child pornography, illicit drugs that are sold near our children’s schools, tainted court proceedings, some news and media journalists, women slavery, telephone scams, embezzlement, stock and securities fraud, counterfeiting, organ trafficking, money laundering, illegal arms trade, economic espionage and on and on.
You name it and they are involved. Now sit back and think that these bottomless barbaric practices are OK. This is what is happening each and every day and these illegalities cost the tax payer billions of dollars not to mention the bodily damage it has on many of us.
When I was a labor leader, the mafia put me on a high pedestal and I was cuddled by many of my relatives’ friends and everyone who surrounded me.
When it was learned that I was secretly working for the FBI, I was deserted and thought as a pariah. My acting solely out of conscience and freely cooperating without a criminal act hanging over my head was met with jeers. I tried to do the right thing for the workers I represented who were members of a union totally dominated by mob control and victimized by ruthless thugs.
I perfectly understand fear and I hold no grudges against those that knew their economic livelihood would be curtailed and their lives put in harms way. This I comprehend and accept.
What I don’t recognize is those so called friends and relatives that turned against me for personal profit and acceptance by the mob. They should be ashamed of themselves for their collaborating with an enemy of the people. Equally corrupt elected officials, a couple of reporters who under the banner of “The Truth is Fair” surrey favor from the mob and or its lackeys by defaming the investigators and its witnesses and heaping platitudes on the investigated.
We see what is happening and how many of us are still suffering from a loss of a job, a home and essentially a way of life. Does anyone believe that mob members and its associates are suffering economically like the rest of us? I did not write my book “The Triangle Exit” for financial reasons. If I wanted money, all I had to do is going along with the mob and I would be very wealthy today. It’s not for the riches and fame but a story of my life and why I chose the path of “peace of mind” and my effort to curtail an evil that has mutated; yet remains ever present and chasing innovative ways to manipulate and make off with your last dollar.
Now it’s time for a very interesting interview that I did with Paul Scharff about his journey after he found out who had really killed his Father, Ron Scharff. You can read all about it in his book, “Murder in McHenry: a son’s pursuit of justice”, an astonish read, that I highly recommend it, if you love “Casino” by Nicholas Pileggi and “Cullotta” by Dennis Griffin and Frank Cullotta.
- Reading your book was such a captivated read, about your determined to solve your father’s murder. Could you sum up what you did so my reader can under you story?
My father was killed at our tavern the PM Pub on June 2nd, 1981 in Lakemoor, IL. Lakemoor is part of the township of McHenry and the township of McHenry is in McHenry County; which is about 44 miles northwest of Chicago. My father was killed with his employee Patricia Freeman. Investigator George Hendle named Patricia Freeman’s boyfriend as the suspect but he was never charged and the case went cold for 27 years. My former babysitter, Holly Hager asked her father Jim Hager whom he thought may have killed my father and Pat. He mentioned Larry Neumann and Holly started to Google him. She traced his name to a Serial Killer website and then a book. The name of the book was called CULLOTTA. The book was the autobiography of Frank Cullotta who was a mobster for the Chicago Outfit (Chicago Mob) who turned government witness. On page 130 of Frank’s book, he described my father’s murder and named the killer as Larry “Lurch” Neumann.
Frank was working for a man named Tony Spilotro who was a Chicago Outfit enforcer sent out to Las Vegas to watch over the skim. If you have ever seen the movie CASINO, it was about the La Costa Nostra skimming money from the casinos. Frank’s boss, Tony Spilotro was played by Joe Pesci. In the movie they reference The Hole in the Wall Gang. That was Frank’s crew in real life and Larry Neumann was part of that crew.
I read the book CULLOTTA and was convinced that the murder on page 130 was indeed the murder of my father and Pat. I reached out to the Publisher of the book and their Public Relation’s person put me in touch with Frank’s co-author, Dennis Griffin. We emailed each other and decided that we would talk by phone the following week. However, I received an email from Denny the very next day.
In his email he said that he reached out to Frank Cullotta and a man named Dennis Arnoldy. Dennis Arnoldy was a FBI agent that became Frank’s FBI Debriefer when he turned government witness. Denny had asked them both why they did not notify the authorities in McHenry County about this information. They both said that they did. Denny, Dennis, and Frank all offered to help me in naming Larry Neumann as the killer of my father and Patricia Freeman. That is where my pursuit of justice began.
2. May you please share with us about how you met Frank Cullotta?
The very first radio show that I did was back in November in 2008. The host was actually Denny Griffin, Frank’s co-author, and Frank and others were on that radio show. The show was called Las Vegas and the Mob. We all phone in to the radio show but we did not meet. About seven months later on June 2, 2009 (the 28th year anniversary of my father’s murder) I was in Las Vegas to do the Heidi Harris Radio Show with Frank Cullotta himself. He came to pick me up in a real nice car (if you read Frank’s book, he likes cars) at my hotel. I remember being so excited. It may sound a little weird to folks outside of Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York; but people from those areas have more than a little fascination with the mob. I am no different and I was about to do a radio show with a notorious mobster and government witness that has been referenced in many books and TV shows. I was running downstairs of the hotel and I saw Frank right away. I open up the door to his car and hop in to shake his hand. When I did, he pulled me closer to him so that we locked eyes with each other. He said “I want you to know that I did everything I could so your father wouldn’t have been killed.” The look was of seriousness and with a tone in his voice to match. I said “I know Frank.” That was not matching the excitement of my mood and my thrill of meeting him. I understood why he felt that needed to say that. He wanted to clear the air but I felt the need to change the tempo. I wanted to do a good job telling my father’s story on this big radio show and have a great time hanging out with Frank. That’s exactly what happened. Before the radio show Frank gave me a tour of Las Vegas of where things were back in the day like his restaurant the Upper Crust; the place that Larry Neumann received a phone call from his ex-wife that sealed the fate of my father. Then we did the radio show and afterwards went out to breakfast. In between all that, I found myself in peculiar conversations with a former mobster and had one of the most interesting days of my life. I had a Great Time when I first met Frank Cullotta.
3. If you have to do this all over, would you do anything different?
Not a Single Thing! I say that with great confidence but that does not mean that I always had confidence in what I was doing. Dennis Griffin (Denny) and I waged a campaign to create awareness of my father’s story. I don’t believe that we really knew what we were doing but gravitated to the need for awareness and transparency. That was the right thing to do. After the McHenry County Sheriff’s office named Larry Neumann as the killer of my father under exceptional status (exceptional status means that they would have charged Larry Neumann with the murder of my father and Pat, but he was already dead) I wanted to get to the bottom of those that covered up the fact that Larry was the murderer at the sheriff’s office in the 80’s. Well the sheriff’s office did not share my inquiring mind. I was going to make sure that their lack of desire to know was not going to be a problem for me but a problem for them. After I released my book MURDER IN MCHENRY, I waged a new campaign against Undersheriff Andrew Zinke. He was the second investigator in my father’s case. I felt that he was trying to hide facts and protect the former McHenry County Sheriff and others that were complicit in the cover up in my father’s murder. I took my experience from my first campaign and attacked Andrew Zinke’s bid to become the next Sheriff of McHenry County. We were successful and Bill Prim, Undersheriff Andrew Zinke’s opponent, beat him for the Republican Primary for McHenry County Sheriff by 97 votes. Myself and a couple of others were noted by the Chicago Tribune as playing an online role that helped influence this outcome along with Bill Prim’s 300 volunteers.
4. I know that you are very much involved with the sheriff’s election. What are you working on next?
I am going to continue to lend my support to Bill Prim for McHenry County Sheriff in his bid to win the general election in November. I will also continue the investigation of my father’s case. I also have been talking to the eldest son whose father was murdered by Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, Tony Spilotro, and John Fecarotta, all Made men in the Chicago Outfit. He has a book coming out real soon and we have been talking about the possibility of us doing some talking engagements together. I am hoping that it works out because we have interesting stories that are needed to be told.
- Can you put your father’s murder to rest now?
I am not sure if that is really the right question. It is like asking a historian if they could put history to rest. There is still more to find out in my father’s case. However, in my pursuits in my father’s case I fully expect it to change pace and tone. I believe that Bill Prim will become the next Sheriff for McHenry County and I have gotten to know Bill over the past year. I believe him to be a man with a great amount of integrity. Bill has with me and with the public conveyed a message of him having a strong believe in law enforcement transparency and public inclusion for the law enforcement of their community. I will certainly take advantage of that. I feel that I will get access to all the information that I was supposed to have and/or find things that were hidden from me. Anything that I am told that I cannot have, I will now trust there is a good reason for it.
By Siobhan Muir
Do men read romance?
The answer to the question appears easy, but if you really think about the kinds of stories men (and women) enjoy, I’d wager the answer is actually, “Yes.”
Before you get your britches in a twist, let me give you my perspective.
Many guys have told me they don’t read romance, but the media has done a bang-up job (pun intended) of depicting romance as smarmy, melodramatic, unrealistic tales with throbbing manhoods and heavy bosoms. To be honest, that sounds awful to me, too, and I write (and read) romance. My own husband said he didn’t read it because all the guys had sexual organs the size of small baseball bats and were “ruggedly handsome” to a fault.
I offered to write one and let him read it to see if I could prove him wrong. Long story short, I pulled it off and it wasn’t just him I impressed.
Here’s the thing about romance. Romance stories, by definition, must have a “happily-ever-after” ending. This means the characters must like each other and want to stay together at the end of the book. That’s it. So they could have hot and heavy sex, or it could sweet sexual tension that is never shown, but if they get together in the end, that’s what makes it romance.
Everyone likes that kind of story, even men.
Men also like action/adventure, and they like to have the hero save the day in exciting ways. Look at Star Wars. Don’t try to tell me it’s not romance or love. Why do you think Darth Vader became the way he did? It wasn’t from abuse or lack of love from his guardians. It was from the fear of losing the woman he loved. LOVE. Right there. Harry Potter? What saved him in the end was the love he felt for his friends, Ginny Weasely, and his parents. Star Trek? The tight love and friendship between Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty (among others).
Almost every popular tale out there is a love story, though the romance genre puts the love in the forefront. And almost every human out there wants love in one form or another. The key is to get around the media’s skewed and disdainful definition.
For myself, I write paranormal romance, which is basically kick-ass adventure with hot sex, and some of the characters aren’t entirely human. There’s action, adventure, suspense, and sexual interactions meant for adults. And someone almost always dies in my tales. 😉
So, if you happen to be male and think romance is bunk, give my tales a try. They might just surprise you and give you a whole new section of the library (and ebook store) to peruse. (And if you want to know the one that impressed my husband, it’s entitled Her Devoted Vampire.
Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.
The Midwest La Cosa Nostra Familias and Las Vegas
By: Gary Jenkins
I produced, Gangland Wire, a feature length documentary film that tells the back story behind the Martin Scorsese film, Casino. I was able to obtain all the audio and transcripts from wiretaps and hidden microphones used to investigate skimming form Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s. The film’s audience is able to hear out of the mouths of the Midwest mobsters exactly what they were concerned about, how they skimmed, who was skimming and other interesting little gossipy items like the fact that the Robert DeNiro character, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal had hair plugs.
Dr. Michael Green, Nevada Historian, has stated that when Atlantic City opened up for legalized casino gambling in the early 1970s, the Commission declared that Las Vegas Casinos were open for infiltration by the Midwest Mobs and Atlantic City was closed to all but the Northeastern Families. Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Cleveland went to work. These Mofia families already each owned a significant International Brotherhood of Teamsters official. Kansas City owned Roy Lee Williams, boss of the Kansas City Local and president of the Central Conference of Teamsters, Chicago owned Allen Dorfman, Central States Pension Fund Board, Milwaukee owned Frank Ranney, Central States Pension Fund Board and Cleveland owned Jackie Presser, International Vice President of the Teamsters.
These mob families directed their Teamsters contacts to ensure that certain individuals were able of obtain large loans. The most important loan was 62 million to Allen Glick. Mr. Glick then purchased the Argent Corporation. Mr. Glick soon became the largest casino owner in Las Vegas by owning the Stardust, Hacienda, Fremont and the Marina hotel. At about the same time, Kansas City mob boss, Nick Civella had placed a Sicilian immigrant into the Tropicana hotel and casino. The Chicago Mob forced Allen Glick to place Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal into the position of Food and Beverage manager (Lefty could not be licensed because of felony convictions) and the Kansas City mob planted Joseph Agosto into the Tropicana as the show Form these positions, these men recruited in casino employees and set up a steady flow of skim from both casinos.
The Argent skim was sent directly to Chicago. They, in turn, shared with Milwaukee, Cleveland and Kansas City because those families helped influence the Argent casino loan. Nick Civella’s man, Joe Agosto, had infiltrated the Tropicana on his own and was able to secretly set up a skimming operation without the cooperation of the ownership because no Teamster’s money was used. This skim was sent directly to Kansas City and they shared with Chicago.
My recent documentary, Gangland Wire, shares a lot of behind the scenes information about this infiltration of Las Vegas casinos. The individual given the job of overseeing the day to day activities and speaking directly with the Las Vegas operatives was Carl “Tuffy” DeLuna. He was the Underboss of the Kansas City family. Tuffy was your stereotypical mob guy. He was quiet, low key, careful with whom he talked and drove an inexpensive late model family car. Tuffy had a moderate but nice family home, long term wife and 2 children. He kept a girl friend on the side who was not very attractive, but the “greatest blow job in Kansas City.”
Tuffy came up through the ranks as a young armed robber. He probably “made his bones” in a 1960s killing of mob member, Sam Palma. Palma was under indictment for a series of armed robberies and was looking at serious time. This is the kind of thing that makes mob bosses nervous. A Kansas City PD Intelligence Unit detective team following Tuffy last saw him having coffee with Sam Palma at a late night coffee shop before they went off duty. The next day, Palma’s body was found laying on his father’s grave. A typical mob hit, get the victim isolated and leave it in a manner that sends a message. Nobody in law enforcement ever figured out the message from leaving a guy’s body on his father’s grave. But, there is no doubt, that was a message.
As many folks know, the film Casino indicates that the FBI first learned about the casino skim from a hidden microphone in the back of a small grocery store owned by fictional character, Artie Piscano. This is based in fact.
Only the details are different. The “bug” was placed in a wall next to a small table in the Villa Capri lounge. The FBI and KCPD Intelligence Unit had informants reporting that Tuffy and other mob guys often sat at this same table and planned murders as well as talked about other mob business. I drove by the Villa Capri many times late at night and recorded the presence of Tuffy’s car along with the automobiles of other mob members. Officers and agents were sent inside to have drinks periodically and they confirmed that Tuffy always sat at the same table. He was usually talking with other known mob guys. He would often leave the Villa Capri and drive to his girls friend’s house to spend the next few hours. Nothing like planning a murder or conspiring to steal millions from Las Vegas casinos and then going for a blow job.
The monitoring agents heard the Bee Gees Staying Alive coming from a nearby juke box more than they care to recall. But, eventually the damming conversations started rolling into the recorder. The agents heard that the owner of the Stardust casino was going to sell the corporation that owned the Stardust and that the Kansas City mob wanted to have someone they control buy that business.
What follows an example of Tuffy DeLuna talking to Carl “Corky” Civella (Kansas City Mob member and brother to boss, Nick Civella). “J” and Joe are the Tropicana operative named Joe Agosto (he was not depicted in Casino). Jay is Jay Brown (he was not depicted in Casino) who was a lawyer for the Argent Corporation. Lefty is Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal (Sam “Ace” Rothstein) and “the man from Chicago” mentioned is “Joey Doves” Aiuppa. They are discussing the sale of the Argent Corporation and who should run it after it changes hands. Joe Agosto and the Kansas City family want to choose who operates that corporation. They are concerned that the Chicago family does not respect Joe Agosto. When Civella said, that his brother blasted Lefty he means he lectured Lefty about causing trouble with the Nevada gaming commission. When they talk about “meeting their needs up north”, they mean that they are skimming enough money to keep the Chicago family happy. When they say, “close the territory”, they mean that the Kansas City family would control all the skimming in Las Vegas.
DE LUNA: I’ll tell you what tends to prove that he’s right, Carl tends to prove that Joe’s conception of Jay’s loyalty is first with him and then maybe to “J”, maybe tend to prove (unintelligible), the very fact that Joe was there to cash that check the night before last, Crazy and, ah, Jay Brown pulled him on the side an’ talked to him, to have him to tell Lefty, I told you, I’m sure Lefty’ll get back to you, and he told Joe them things about (unintelligible) being Chief, Chairman of the Board; the seven guys for leasing the thing. Sure enough, half hour later Lefty pulls Joe on the side, tells Joe this morning already, I got a new idea pa-pa-pa-pa, I want seven guys and I want Jay to be, to head the Board, the Chairman, and I want you to tell Joe to tell Jay (unintelligible). Why would Lefty need Joe if it ain’t a fact that Jay has told Lefty I want to go check with Joe, I could have told you that, that Jay did tell that to Lefty, I wanna go see Joe first. So Lefty knows it, that he’s checking with Joe. So maybe Joe is, now maybe it almost proves that Joe is right that Lefty feels, not Lefty, Jay’s first loyalty is to Joe. Can you, are you following that? All right now, I know what the man from Chicago’ll say, hey fuck Jay Brown and fuck Joe Agosto too. Well I say fuck Jay Brown, I don’t say fuck Joe Agosto. Now, now they don’t care about (overlapped – unintelligible) —
CIVELLA: (unintelligible) — about nobody.
DE LUNA: — that’s their attitude. They don’t give a fuck about nobody. But to me it’s showing us a discourtesy if, for them to treat somebody that we call our acquaintance, our friend, Joe Agosto is our friend, plus the fact it looks like we’re going to make a buck with this guy.
CIVELLA: I’ll tell you what, my brother blasted Lefty when he’s with ‘im in California.
DE LUNA: Yeah, I remember that.
CIVELLA: I’m sure that they — if we could close the territory when they, they okay their needs up north. You know if they okay their needs, an’ then we’ll, we’ll meet with them guys. An’ he will, I’m sure he will (unintelligible) Lefty (unintelligible) get this guy (unintelligible)
DE LUNA: Carl, we’re gonna have to give this guy an answer right now, tonight.
CIVELLA: Well, we will, tell ‘im see what he says first.
The next segment really peaked their interest. When they say that Genius’s debt service is two million a month, they are talking about Allen Glick, the owner of Argent, and how much he has to pay back to the Teamster’s loan each month.
DE LUNA: — uh, can’t be two million a year Carl, can’t be —
CIVELLA: — two million a month, (unintelligible) twenty-five million a year, they can’t make it.
DE LUNA: If it is something like two million a month, if it is, where the fuck is his, his debt service ah, I’m talking about the Genius’s debt service. Can’t be nowhere near that, can’t be two million a month Carl. Where is his net gonna be monthly? (unintelligible)Unless like you said, are we gonna get a piece of (unintelligible)? Are we in with them on that? ‘Cause if you gotta pay two million a month for rent, now we’re only in with the operators, right?
CIVELLA: ‘Member, you remember the deal in Chicago, talkin’
DE LUNA: Yeah, four and half million —
CIVELLA: A year.
DE LUNA: Right, a year, right.
ClVELLA: Doesn’t seem, does it seem possible twenty-some million?
DE LUNA: Right.
CIVELLA: Oh, yeah?
DE LUNA: Ah, yeah, twenty-four (unintelligible).
CIVELLA: The guy wanted four and half, and Carl told ’em try to get ’em down, try to get ’em, remember?
DE LUNA: The guy wanted what?
CIVELLA: The guy wanted four and half million.
DE LUNA: Right, four and half, right. That’s right.
CIVELLA: A year?
The next conversation was not understood at the time, but it became very important. This is Carl Tuffy DeLuna talking with Carl “Cork” Civella about how DeLuna went out to Las Vegas and told Genius or Allen Glick to sell the Argent Corporation. Jay Brown again was an attorney for the Argent Corporation. What we did not know at this point in time was that Tuffy had gone to Las Vegas and threatened Allen Glick and his children when he ordered him to sell out his ownership of Argent Corporation.
CIVELLA: Yeah. At the Stardust. Jay told Joe to help him —
Brown like a savior the way Joe was–. Okay, Genius is all for this deal. He wants it to go through. He wants to make a public announcement, right. Which, those were my words to him, I said, do what you got to do boy, make your public announcement that you’re gettin’ out of this for whatever fuckin’ reason you want to pick and get out, you know. I put that in his head. Make a, hold a news conference, make a public announce– but anyway Joe says that he wants to make a public announcement right away. And if Jay Brown can stall Lefty for a while, a week or something, he would not come here til Sunday. But if he can’t stall him, I’m going to come before. All right, he’s coming before ain’t he? So that proves that Left, Lefty and, and Glick both are pushing it.
Next is Allen Glick’s testimony, at a later trial, about his meeting with Tuffy DeLuna. This was taken from the trial Transcript. This conversation took place in Oscar Goodman’s office. In the film Casino Allen Glick was portrayed as Phillip Green by character actor, Kevin Pollak. In the film, Oscar Goodman was portrayed by himself as the attorney for the Rothstein character at a Gaming Commission hearing.
Prosecutor – Mr. Glick can you tell the jury about meeting the Defendant, Carl DeLuna?
Glick – Yes it was in the April of 1978
Prosecutor – Where was that meeting?
Glick – I was asked to come to Oscar Goodman’s office in downtown Las Vegas
Prosecutor – Who is Oscar Goodman
Glick – Mr Goodman is an attorney who represented Argent Corporation at one time.
Prosecutor – When you entered that office who did you observe
Glick – I saw Mr. DeLuna sitting behind Mr. Goodman’s desk with his feet up on the desk
Prosecutor – Tell the jury, as best as you can recall what you remember about your conversation with Mr. DeLuna
Glick – Mr. Deluna’s demeanor was very vulgar, coarse and he used many profanities.
Prosecutor – What was the topic of this conversation
Glick – He said that he and his partners were sick of having got deal with me and having me around. He wanted me to know this would be the last time I would hear from him or anybody else unless I abided by what he said. He informed that it was their desire to have me sell the Argent Corporation immediately and to announce the sale as soon as possible. He said that in the event I did not take his threats seriously and that I may find my life expendable, he went on to inform me that I would not find my children’s lives expendable. He looked down at a piece of paper and gave me the names and ages of each one of my sons. And he said that if he did not hear within a short period of time that I announced the sale, that one by one he would have each of my sons murdered.
Finally the Robert DeNiro character Ace Rothstein, who was the real Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, was portrayed as a cool smooth character with a huge ego. Nick Pillegi tells a story about how he wanted to interview Rosenthal and obtain his help in writing the book and the screenplay. Lefty was not cooperative and would not agree until he learned that Robert DeNiro was going to play his character. Then, he was on board 100%. During this time, Lefty was called before the Nevada Gaming Commission. They had information he was running the Stardust, yet had no Nevada Gaming license. Lefty could not pass any background check because he had a felony conviction for bribing a college basketball player. Some old footage exists that shows Lefty arguing with the Gaming Commission President, Harry Reid. This is the same harry Reid who is the current Senator from Nevada. During this hearing, Lefty wore a hat the entire time he was addressing the Board. The below conversation reveals why he wore that hat.
AGOSTO: You remember you know I told you that uh, I was very much concern that this guy should be restrained?
DE LUNA: Yeah.
AGOSTO: In somehow, in some form, because he’s pazzo (crazy) he just went nuts.
DE LUNA: Yeah. What the fuck’d he do now?
AGOSTO: What he did now? Exactly what I foreseen it. All right, let me tell you. They went at the hearing this morning, you know, and he put up the one witness, he had ten witness to put up. During the, during, ah, the hearing he’s over there, ah, chewing gum and having his hat on, you know what I mean?
DE LUNA: Having his what?
AGOSTO: Having his hat because he gotta the–
DE LUNA: The hair plugs?
AGOSTO: Yeah, the hair plugs–
DE LUNA: All right.
AGOSTO: –so he’s wearing hat, you know, during the hearing and chewing gum. So they put one witness, you know, and ah, when the witness got through, Goodman was going to put more witness, he had about ten witness: so Haycock says I’m sick and tired of this bullshit, you know, he says I’m not gonna allow anymore witness. He says uh, we not here to determine if he’s a good entertainment director or bad entertainment director. I don’t want to know about it. Said we here only to call him in for license.
These wiretaps allowed me to tell my audience exactly how the mob worked out of their own mouths. Gangland Wire contains the actual audio of Tuffy and others discussing how to skim money from casinos. The viewer can hear Nick Civella discuss making political contributions to Nevada politicians and how to deal with a corrupt politician. The taps captured a Chicago Mafia Captain named “Joey the Clown” Lombardo threatening to kill a casino owner named Morris Shenker. Gangland Wire contains interviews with former law enforcement folks in both Kansas City and Las Vegas, former Stardust employees, historians and many other first- hand witnesses to these events.
Alexandra, thank you for allowing me to be part of your event. I wish you the best of luck and success with your creation of a new sub-genre in the romance novel arena, the Mafia romance novel.