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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Las Vegas Mob Museum Update

The following story appeared online on Las Vegas TV station KLAS,

Sneak Preview Inside the Las Vegas Mob Museum

POSTED: MAY 25, 2010 6:23 PM EDTUPDATED: MAY 25, 2010 8:24 PM EDT

LAS VEGAS -- From Bugsy Siegel to Tony Spilotro, organized crime is forever a part of Las Vegas' past and the city is preserving that notorious era.

The old federal courthouse on Stewart and Third Street is the site of the Mob Museum. One step inside and soon you'll become a criminal, greeted by a crusty cop.

"Get in the elevator, don't hesitate, eyes forward."

Upon reaching the second floor, Curator Kathy Barrie describes what visitors will see. "They see an entire mural of a lineup from Detroit's Purple Gang."

"You're going to be mugged, you're going to be booked," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The museum makes a visitor feel like a prisoner and takes one into the hallway of the courthouse, home of the famed Kefauver hearings.

"I was shaking like a leaf," said Goodman. It was his first criminal case as a lawyer.

The curator's goal is to make the museum entertaining, interactive and educational.

"Once you get in here you get behind the headlines, you get into the real actions of the Mob, the real story," said Dennis Barrie, creative director.

But the Las Vegas city worker's union is raising concern, saying the $42 million project comes as employees face nearly 200 layoffs and pay cuts. The city says funding for it comes from a variety of sources and just a small portion from the General Fund.

"The money that was spent from the General Fund was allocated in the past, so really the funding coming into this project now couldn't be used to save jobs anyway," said David Riggleman, city communications director.

The city says the Mob Museum is expected to draw people into downtown, generating revenue for area businesses, benefiting everyone, including city employees. The project is generating nearly 227 jobs during construction.

The Mob Museum comes from the same creative minds that designed the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and Spy Museum in Washington D.C. It's expected to open late spring 2011.

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