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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 7th in Series

Nevada’s Black Book
and The Eye-in-the-Sky

First of all, the Black Book isn’t black, it's silver. It’s not really a book, but rather a list of persons prohibited from entering a licensed Nevada gaming establishment under penalty of arrest. In 1967, it became part of the Nevada Gaming Control Act. Once in the book, the only way to be removed is through death. (Photo: Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, deceased, is listed in Nevada's Black Book.)

The Black Book should not be confused with the Griffin Book which is a who’s who of casino cheaters founded by Bob Griffin, a Las Vegas police officer. Casinos around the world subscribe to the Griffin Book and other detection services provided by Griffin. The Griffin Book has several hundred pages of mug shots of known casino cheaters that are updated monthly throughout the gaming industry. Each entry lists any aliases used as well as a brief description of cheating method and any known associates. The sources vary from Las Vegas and other police departments to other casinos to stool pigeons. (Photo: George Joseph, foremost international surveillance expert.)

Casino surveillance, or the eye-in-the-sky, utilizes the most sophisticated state-of-the-art systems available. If you think you can outsmart the eye-in-the-sky, think again. Not only can their PTZ cameras zero in on the year a dime was printed lying on the casino floor, they can track a customer walking out the door and down the street for at least a block.

As for the company you keep, I remember a sign I spotted in Carlos Marcello’s office. He was the “Little Man” who became crime boss of New Orleans and well beyond. The sign read: “If you want to keep a secret with 3 people, kill 2 of them.”

More info on the Black Book appears in the Website

What is Nevada's BLACK BOOK and who is in it?

Nevada's Black Book (not actually black but silver) is an attempt to keep organized crime out of casinos. Officials add the names of known crime figures to the book, and then any book member commits a crime simply by setting foot in a casino. The casino also commits a crime if it fails to report gambling in its facility by a Black Book member.

The book is only 36 pages long but lists some of the most notorious names in gambling crime since its creation in 1960. It was born out of the fear that if Nevada couldn't keep organized crime out of gambling then Congress would eliminate the industry completely through high taxes.

Eleven names were drawn up in the original list, consisting of individuals defined as having a "notorious and unsavory reputation which would adversely affect public confidence and trust that the gaming industry is free from criminal or corruptive elements."

Under state gaming law, anyone can be placed in the Black Book if he/she has a felony conviction, committed a crime involving moral turpitude or violated gaming laws in another state; failed to disclose an interest in a gaming establishment; willfully evaded paying taxes or fees; or has a "notorious or unsavory" reputation established through state or federal government investigations.

Originally, the process of placing someone on the list was an administrative function without due process, but nominees are now allowed to attend a public hearing to dispute their inclusion. Once listed in the Black Book, if members are caught entering a restricted gaming establishment they face a gross misdemeanor charge. Exemptions include airports, bars and stores with 15 slot machines or less and no gaming tables. As well, casino operators who refuse to report gambling activity by a Black Book member can face fines and licensing problems.

The legality of the Black Book has been challenged numerous times and survived both state and federal courts.

Current "Black Book" members and the year they entered the list:

1. Marshall Caifano, Chicago mob leader 1960
2. Louis Dragna, Mob leader, convicted racketeer 1960
3. Alvin Kaohu, Hawaiian organized crime member 1975
4. Wilford Pulawa, Hawaiian organized crime boss 1975
5. John Vaccaro, Slot cheater 1986
6. Sandra Vaccaro, Slot cheater 1987
7. Chris Petti, Mob associate, convicted bookmaker and card cheater 1987
8. Michael Rizzitello, Mob associate, convicted kidnapper 1988
9. William Land, Card cheater 1988
10. James Tamer, Mob skimmer, bank robber 1988
11. Frank Masterana, Convicted bookmaker 1988
12. Frank Rosenthal, Mob associate 1988
13. Harold Lyons, Slot cheater 1989
14. Joseph Cusumano, Mob associate, convicted racketeer 1990
15. Douglas Barr, Slot cheater 1990
16. Timothy Childs, Slot cheater 1991
17. Francis Citro, Mob collector, convicted racketeer 1991
18. Richard Perry, Convicted sports fixer 1992
19. Anthony St. Laurent, Reputed mob associate, convicted racketeer, bookmaker 1993
20. Dominic Spinale, Convicted illegal bookmaker 1994
21. Brent Eli Morris
22. Douglas William Barr, Convicted slot cheat 1994
23. William Dominick Cammisano Jr., Reputed mob figure, convicted felon 1997
24. Ronald Harris, Former Gaming Control Board computer expert who rigged slot machines 1997
25. Anthony "Tony Ripe" Civella, Reputed Kansas City, Mo., mob figure 1997
26. Jerry Dale Criner, Convicted slot cheat 1997
27. Louis John Olejack, Convicted card cheat 1997
28. John Joseph Conti, Reputed mob associate 1997
29. Stephen Cino, Reputed mob associate 1997
30. Charles Panarella, Reputed mob associate 1997
31. Michael DiBari, Slot cheater 1998
32. Peter Joseph "P.J." Ribaste, Reputed mob associate 1999
33. Fred Pascente, a former Chicago police detective who served time for his connection to an Illinois mail fraud ring. (1999)
34. Michael Joseph Balsamo, a six-time convicted slot cheat, who is in the North Las Vegas jail in connection with a nationwide slot cheating scheme. (1999)
35. Peter Jay Lenz -- Convicted on bookmaking charges three times and on federal charges of making false statements on a passport application.
A notorious roster of Nevada's past

Some of Las Vegas' most notorious characters have appeared in the book. While law enforcement authorities have said many more names should be on the list, a look at past members of the Black Book provide a glimpse of Nevada's battle to keep organized crime out of casinos.
List of past Members

1. John Louis Battaglia. Entered 1960. Removed 1975.
2. Carl Civella. Entered 1960.
3. Nicholas Civella. Entered 1960. Removed 1983.
4. Michael Coppola. Entered 1960. Removed 1975.
5. Robert L. Garcia. Entered 1960. Removed 1986.
6. Sam Giancana. Entered 1960. Removed 1975.
7. Motel Grzebienacy. Entered 1960. Removed 1975.
8. Murray Llewellyn Humphreys. Entered 1960. Removed 1975.
9. Joseph Sica. Entered 1960. Removed 1998.
10. Felix Alderisio. Entered 1965. Removed 1965.
11. William Alderman. Entered 1965. Removed 1965.
12. Ruby Kolod. Entered 1965. Removed 1965.
13. Anthony Joseph Spilotro. Entered 1978. Removed 1986.
14. Gaspare Anedetto Speciale. Entered 1989. Removed 1992.
15. Carl Wesley Thomas. Entered 1990. Removed 1994.
16. Albert Corbo. Entered 1994. Removed 1998

Nominated but not entered:

1. Anthony Giordano. Nominated 1975. Withdrawn 1976.
2. Michael Santo Polizzi. Nominated 1975. Withdrawn 1976.
3. Anthony Joseph Zerilli. Nominated 1975. Withdrawn 1976.
4. Carl Angelo DeLuna. Nominated 1979. Withdrawn 1989.
5. Joseph Agosto. Nominated 1979. Withdrawn 1984.
6. Samel Filippo Manarite. Nominated 1993. Withdrawn 1993.
7. Herbie Blitzstein. Nominated 1996. Blitzstein was killed in a gangland-style execution before hearings were conducted on his nomination. See the Las Vegas Review-Journal's coverage of Blitzstein's slaying and the indictment of suspects in the slaying.
For more Black Book insider info check out the following Website:

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