To be honest, this article could simply focus on Tony Spilotro, who featured in the movie Casino by Martin Scorsese, but we can also make room for some other famous mob murders.
To succeed in Vegas, you had to be ruthless and these people proved it.
The Hole In The Wall Gang
Tony Spilotro, also known as The Ant, was a real piece of work. He was the right hand man for the Las Vegas mobsters. He protected their investments or silenced informants, depending on what day of the week it was.
As with all great men, Spilotro became greedy and over confident. He decided he was due a bigger slice of the Vegas pie and threw together a ragtag bunch of conmen, thieves and ex-cops and started a wave of crime in Vegas the likes of which had never been seen. The group came to be known as The Hole In The Wall Gang, because that is how they gained access to most of the establishments they robbed. They also focussed more on high end businesses. To fence all their stolen goods, Spilotro had his own store called the Gold Rush.
It wasn’t until 1981 that 6 of the gang’s members were apprehended while they were breaking into a high class furniture store. This led to federal charges for Spilotro, but amazingly the jury could not come to an agreement on his involvement in the affair.
Spilotro’s bosses in Chicago were not as pleased about these charges as you may imagine. They felt that the court case was bringing way too much attention to their endeavours. In 1986 Spilotro and his brother were found beaten and strangled in an Indiana cornfield. The main suspect in their murder was Frank Rosenthal, a mob boss whose wife was rumoured to be having an affair with Spilotro.
The Fallout Cause By The Ant
The death of Spilotro had some lasting effects in Vegas. Firstly it lead to the murder of Herbie Blitzstein. Blitzstein was the body guard of Spilotro and he was found dead in his home in Las Vegas. It is believed that he was killed in a joint effort by Buffalo and LA Mob organisations, but no charges were ever brought.
This was the last loose end that the mob tied up, bringing an end to Spilotro’s gruesome run in Vegas. He was responsible for more murders in his 3 years in Vegas stretching from ’71 to ’74, than all murders recorded in the previous 25 years.
The Binion Saga
Ted Binion was the son of the Las Vegas legend Benny Binion. Binion is most well known for starting up the World Series of Poker in the 1940’s. In 1967, a cab driver called Martin Shumate devised a scheme to kidnap the young Binion and then to extort money from his rich father.
The first fault in this plan was that at the time, the illegal dealings and outright cases of murder committed by Benny Binion were well documented. You do not rise up that high in a city like Vegas and not manage to break a few eggs in the process.
Shumate was convinced of his plan though. Shumate’s son was friends with Ted Binion, who was 24 at the time. He used the information gathered by his son to set up a kidnapping of Binion. Shumate needed a partner and he attempted to recruit a fellow cab driver to assist in the kidnapping. Unfortunately the plan he revealed to his fellow driver involved killing Ted as well. The other driver backed out and, probably fearing for his own life, and quite rightly so, went to Benny and told him about Shumate’s plan.
Benny, being the calm and compassionate…I’m kidding. Benny did not take to this plan kindly. Shumate was found in the mountains of Las Vegas with a shotgun blast to his chest and a bullet wound in his head.