THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 25th in Series

This past August, my best friend and fellow author, William "Slick" Hanner, passed on to that "Big Poker Room in the Sky," the final table in the poker tournament called Life. In memory of Slick and his quirky slant on the world, here's the 25th chapter in his book, Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now:

Fables of Las Vegas

Bugsy’s Flamingo While Ben “Bugsy” Siegel was building the Flamingo, he would go out and watch the construction workers. One of the workers greeted Siegel with a thumbs up when he saw his boss walking the property. “Hello, Mr. Siegel. How are you doing today?”

That day the worker took a chance and told Siegel a sob story about how he didn’t have his rent money. Siegel reached in his pocket and loaned the guy $100.

After a week, Siegel noticed the worker was avoiding him. So he walked over to the worker, pulled out four $100 bills and gave them to the guy.

The worker said, “What’s this for, Mr. Siegel?”

Siegal replied, “I never kill anybody for less than $500.”

The next day, it’s said, Segal was paid back in full.


Before Silicone One of Ben Siegel’s acquaintances was a fellow name Benny Gofstein. He told a tale of old Las Vegas when starlets were flown in from Hollywood on DC 4s, unpressurized planes. Some of the women wore pneumatic or blow-up falsies. The higher the plane flew, the more the falsies inflated, sometimes bursting or sometimes leaving the starlets looking unbalanced when they got off the plane.


Dead Man One day at a Caesar’s Palace crap table, one of the players experienced chest pains and collapsed. He was helped up, placed in a wheel chair and taken outside to “get some air.” When staff came out later, allegedly to check on him, the guy was dead. Not wanting bad publicity, they put him in a cab and sent him to another casino.


Parcy the Cab Driver All the Las Vegas poker room players got to know Parcy who liked his booze. People said he was doing a life sentence in the poker rooms because he played poker every day. He had the habit of saying, “It’s up to you…” over and over. Pretty soon other poker players were saying, “It’s up to you.”

After years of listening to Parcy, I finally asked him why he always used that phrase. He told me that while driving his cab at the airport many years ago, a policeman asked him to move. As the officer walked away, Parcy said, “Fuck you.” The cop turned around and asked Parcy to repeat what he just said. Parcy told him, “It’s up to you.”


Bank Robber Mario came to Las Vegas from Melrose Park, a suburb of Chicago, and got a job dealing poker at the Stardust Casino. He made good tips but blew them right away. So he was forced to live off his paycheck of $5 an hour. After years following this same pattern, he decided to go home. His family scraped together $500 for his plane ticket.


Do you think Mario bought a ticket? Of course not. He headed straight for a Caesar’s Palace crap table to try to double his money. Not only did he double it, he ran it up to $50,000 which he put in a safe place.

The next morning he kicked some tires at Cashman Cadillac. Then he went to the Stardust poker room and told his boss he was a dumb ass who shouldn’t be in charge of anything and promptly quit. Later he thought, why should I leave with 50 grand when I can leave with 500 grand?

You guessed it…he lost everything and left the poker room without a penny in his pocket. Then he tried to get his old job back and was laughed out of the room. The last I heard, Mario became a bank robber, got shot and is now doing time in prison.


Underwear On November 21, 1980, the MGM’s fire killed 86 and injured 650. A well-known casino executive, George Joseph, was working as director of surveillance at the Dunes across from the MGM. In the midst of the fire, with all the smoke and confusion, he saw a man walking across the street wearing only his underwear. He thought the man was in shock and disoriented by the fire. What the man did next seems unbelievable. He walked up to the crap table at the Dunes, asked for and received a marker and began shooting dice…in his underwear. He reasoned that if he was still alive after the terrible fire, it was his lucky day.


Megabucks A happily married couple walked into a casino and decided to play the Megabucks slot machine. For hours the husband poured dollars—three at a time—into the one-armed bandit. Nature called so he left his wife to take over while he went to the men’s room with strict instructions always to play three dollars at a time. That was the maximum amount someone had to play to win the Megabucks jackpot. Wouldn’t you know, she tried to save money and had bet only one dollar when the jackpot hit. For only $2 more, the couple would have won over $1 million. When her husband came back and found out what happened, it took two security guards to pull him off his wife. They weren’t a happily married couple anymore.


Hospital Gambling My friend, Sam Gambino, who lives part time in Las Vegas and the rest of the year in Chicago, had to go to the hospital. He asked me to drive him to the airport. I asked him why he needed to fly out of Las Vegas since we had perfectly good hospitals here? He told me he had a friend who was a Las Vegas nurse who just bought a new house with her gambling winnings. Sam asked her where she won the money?

She told him it was the hospital where she worked. The nurses had a bet which patients would die first, and she won. So Sam said he was going to play it safe and fly to Chicago where they don’t bet on patients lives.


Nose Ring My son-in-law, a crap dealer for 30 years, told me about the time Dennis Rodman was at his crap table. Apparently, Rodman’s nose ring had a little ball attached to it that fell off and landed on the table, hit the number 10 and bounced all the way to the number 4. Rodman, even with his long arms, couldn’t reach it. So he asked my son-in-law to get the ball for him. My son-in-law refused saying, “How do I know where your nose has been?”


Sure gonna miss you, Slick.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's in a name?

Enter the key words "the mob" on the following Las Vegas TV Website,, and you come up with some interesting stories and blogs about "the good ole days" in Sin City. The following blog entry refers to a series of interviews by respected TV reporter George Knapp about the Chicago Mob. The series featured Slick and other mob associates.

KLAS-TV Las Vegas

BY CBLEAKLEY • MAY 15TH, 2007 • 7:29 PM

Former Wiseguys Talk Turkey

It ain’t The Sopranos but with names like William ‘Slick’ Hanner, Joey ‘The Clown’ Lombardo and Tony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro, it’s pretty darn close. And let’s face it — anything that gets a quote like "He’s a liar, he’s a pimp, he’s a thief," out of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has got to be good.

You can find the entire Knapp interview here:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Green Mafia????

'Greener' Mafia loses $1.9 billion in energy assets
'Lord of the Wind' caught up in Italy's largest seizure ever against mob bosses
September 14, 2010
Nigel Roddis / Reuters
Supported by tax credits from European governments, wind farms like the one above in Britain have sprouted up across the continent. In Italy, the mafia has also found it an attractive proposition.
By Philip Pullella
ROME — Italy Tuesday seized Mafia-linked assets worth $1.9 billion — the biggest mob haul ever — in an operation revealing that the crime group was trying to "go green" by laundering money through alternative energy companies.
Investigators said the assets included more than 40 companies, hundreds of parcels of land, buildings, factories, bank accounts, stocks, fast cars and luxury yachts.
Most of the seized assets were located in Sicily, home of the Cosa Nostra, and in southern Calabria, home of its sister crime organization, the 'Ndrangheta.
At the center of the investigation was Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, 54, a man known as the "Lord of the Wind" because of his vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, mostly wind farms.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called the operation "the largest seizure ever made" against the Mafia.
General Antonio Girone, head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said Nicastri was linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, believed to be Mafia's current "boss of bosses."
Investigators said Nicastri's companies ran numerous wind farms as well as factories that produced solar energy panels.
"It's no surprise that the Sicilian Mafia was infiltrating profitable areas like wind and solar energy," Palermo magistrate Francesco Messineo told a news conference.
Officials said the operation was based on a 2,400-page investigative report and followed the arrest of Nicastri last year.
Senator Costantino Garraffa, a member of the parliamentary anti-Mafia committee, said the Mafia was trying to break into the "new economy," of alternative energy as it sought out virgin ventures to launder money from drugs and other rackets.
In the past few years, Italian authorities have cracked down hard on the crime group that once terrified the country.
The cupola, or hierarchy, of the Sicilian Mafia has been in freefall since the mid-1990s, when police began arresting its most enigmatic and charismatic bosses.
Salvatore "The Beast" Riina, who had declared war on the state and ordered a string of killings, bombings and kidnappings, was arrested in 1993 after nearly a quarter of a century on the run.
His successor, Bernardo Provenzano, was captured in 2006 after 43 years on the run. Both Riina and Provenzano hailed from Corleone, the hill town near Palermo made famous by the Godfather movies.
Provenzano was succeeded by Salvatore "The Baron" Lo Piccolo, who was in turn arrested a year later in 2007.
Police say the circle is now closing in on Messina Denaro, who hails from the grim western Sicilian town of Castelvetrano and is known as the "Playboy Boss" because he likes fast cars, women and gold watches. He has been on the run since 1993.

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 24th in Series

Vegas Institution: The Cocktail Waitress

Not all Las Vegas showgirls were in the Follies. Some women with as many charms as showgirls served drinks to customers.

In old Vegas, cocktail waitresses were the most beautiful in the world. Considering that one of their main jobs was to attract and retain customers, they had to be beautiful to compete with all the other bars in Las Vegas. They also dated some of the most powerful men in the world. In some cases, the girls became millionaires themselves. After slinging drinks for 30 years, a few could even win beauty contests. I figure that walking all those miles serving drinks kept them in great shape. From a guy’s viewpoint, can you imagine a girl pretty enough to be a model serving you drinks? By the way, drinks while gambling are meant to keep you at it. The happier you are, the longer you play and the more money you drop.

Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, is dating a cocktail waitress at the Palms. Right now it’s beginning to look serious. But who knows by the time this is published. And then there was George Clooney’s ex- girlfriend, also a gorgeous cocktail waitress at the Palms. During my early days in Vegas, a cocktail waitress from the Stardust became the first woman blackjack dealer on the Strip. Another girl who worked with her became owner of the largest privately owned security company in Las Vegas. In those days, it was standard to bring home $250 a day in tips. Others made a lot of money writing their stories.

I know a cocktail waitress named Lynda Allen who worked at Palace Station for 31 years. She’s the hottest senior I know.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Genovese Mobster Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy

The following appeared a few weeks ago on the Net:
(Photo at right: Anthony "Tony D" Palumbo arrested.)

Genovese captain pleads guilty


Posted: 4:46 PM, August 30, 2010

A reputed acting captain in the Genovese crime family pleaded guilty today to conspiring to murder a hitman working for the Russian mob in the early 1990s.

Anthony "Tony D." Palumbo -- who was previously charged last year with also shaking down owners of local bartending schools --- admitted in a Manhattan federal courtroom that he was “a member of an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity” who participated with others to “murder an individual of Russian descent.”

The plan, which was hatched in late 1992 or early 1993, never came off. It was to lure the unidentified hitman to a Bronx social club, "where Palumbo would murder [him]," the indictment said.

Prosecutors charge that his racketeering activity also included extortion, loan sharking and gambling.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3 and faces up to 10 years behind bars.

The indictment against Palumbo, who the feds say was named head of the Genovese family's New Jersey operations in 2006, also tied him to the 1992 murder of a mobster’s cousin.

He was accused of conspiring to have Angelo Sangiuolo whacked for robbing Palumbo's gambling joints in the Bronx.

Sangiuolo -- whose rubout was allegedly sanctioned by then-Genovese boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante -- was later lured to his death by his first cousin Angelo Prisco, a Genovese captain who was sentenced to life last year after triggerman John "Johnny Balls" Leto turned rat and testified against him.

The remaining suspected member of the hit team -- alleged getaway driver Paul "Doc" Gaccione -- was arrested in April and charged with murder.


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