The True Story Behind The Hit Film ‘Casino’ From An ‘Enforcer’ Who Lived It
The Chicago organized crime family known as the “Outfit” dates back to the reign of the infamous Al Capone and prohibition. As the years passed and prohibition was repealed, Outfit bosses had to adapt and seek new ways to make money illegally. One of those was the expanding gambling and entertainment oasis in the desert: Las Vegas. A lot of cash passed through the Vegas casinos and the mobsters devised a way to get some of it, using a process that came to be known as “the skim.”
To protect their interests, the Outfit sent an enforcer to Sin City in 1971 He was to make sure their casino operations ran smoothly and deal with interlopers, employees who were skimming the skim and other troublemakers, by any means necessary.
His name was Tony Spilotro. To help him run his empire Tony imported several heavies from Chicago. Among them was his childhood friend Frank Cullotta, who would function as Tony’s street lieutenant. His assignment was to assemble a crew of thieves, arsonists and killers to provide muscle for Tony as necessary, and carry out lucrative burglaries and robberies that Tony brought to their attention. Frank and his crew were dubbed by the news media as the Hole in the Wall Gang.
The Spilotro era in Vegas was dramatized in the 1995 blockbuster movie Casino, in which Joe Pesci played a character based on Spilotro. Character actor Frank Vincent played “Frankie,” based on Frank Cullotta. The real Frank Cullotta was a technical consultant to the film and appeared in several scenes as a hit man. As screenwriter Nick Pileggi said, “Without Frank Cullotta there would have been no Casino.”
In THE RISE AND FALL OF A ‘CASINO’ MOBSTER, Frank tells the true story of Tony Spilotro, his rise up the ladder to become an Outfit boss, his subsequent fall from power and murder at the hands of the Outfit. Frank also talks about the many murders Tony committed, ordered or planned. In several instances Frank names the killers in cases that are officially unsolved. It’s a story that only Frank Cullotta could tell.
“I was a little nervous before my first meeting with former mobster Frank Cullotta. It turned out we had a pleasant conversation that ended with an agreement for me to write his book. As I drove home I realized I had made a deal with a career thief and killer on a handshake. What was I thinking?” – Author Denny Griffin
From The Book:
Lisner then led the way toward the rear of the house to check the backyard. As we passed through the dining room I pulled my gun. I fired two rounds into the back of Lisner’s head from point-blank range. Instead of going down, he turned around and said, “What the…why?” Then he started to run through the house toward the garage.
I caught up with him and emptied the rest of the bullets into his head. He fell, but was still alive, still moving. I had trouble believing what was happening. I got on top of Lisner and held him down while looking around the room for something to use as a weapon. I saw a knife on a counter next to the door leading to the garage and made a grab for it; it was just out of reach. Next I spotted an electric water cooler that was within my grasp. I ripped the cord out of the cooler to strangle Lisner with, but when I wrapped it around his neck the cord broke. Unbelievable!
I got up and dragged Lisner into the den. He was still conscious and aware of what was going on. “My wife knows you’re here! She’s going to know you did this!” he said.
At that time Wayne came into the house; he was carrying an extra magazine of ammo with him. I reloaded the gun, put pillows from a couch over Lisner’s head to muffle the gunshots and emptied it into his head again. It had taken ten fucking rounds, but Lisner was finally dead. We dragged him outside to the pool and dumped him in. The body float ed for a few seconds, then sank to the bottom.