MYSTERY WIRE — When Frank Cullotta died on August 20, 2020, his name was once again in the headlines.
Cullotta was a well known mobster and hitman who turned informant. Cullotta was also known as a close friend of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the longtime rackets boss of Las Vegas and an emissary of the Chicago crime syndicate known as The Outfit.
In the early 2000’s Cullotta left the witness protection program and bounced around several areas of the country before settling down again in Las Vegas. But he wouldn’t go quietly into the night.
He began by writing a book about his mob experiences. He once again became a man about town, known to hang out at local watering holes and was even involved in Las Vegas tourism, giving lucky guests the chance to hear from a real mob hitman about his crimes, even showing them where some of his crimes were committed.
Years before, Cullotta was recruited from Chicago to join Spilotro in Las Vegas. Cullotta would become a member of Spilotro’s the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” The group of criminals was named this because of a penchant of knocking holes in walls of businesses to be able to come and go as they pleased without using the front door.
Cullotta was an admitted killer, known to have killed three men. Spilotro was also a known killer. He was named in more than two dozen homicides but was never convicted thanks in part to his lawyer, Oscar Goodman. Goodman would become mayor of Las Vegas in 1999 only to be succeeded by his wife Carolyn in 2011.
Cullotta’s crime spree ended on July 4, 1981. This was when he and the other members of the Hole in the Wall Gang were arrested, caught in the act of breaking into Bertha’s department store in Las Vegas. According to a report from the Las Vegas Mob Museum, “the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department knew about the planned burglary thanks to an informant within the ranks of Cullotta’s gang.”
After the arrest, Cullotta became a government witness and assisted in bringing down mobsters in Las Vegas, Chicago and other areas. This led to Cullotta being given immunity for his own crimes and forced him into the witness protection program.
Below are all three of George Knapp’s stories on Frank Cullotta from 2002, the videos will play one after the other:
George Knapp first interviewed Cullotta in 2002, shortly after he left in the witness protection program but was still using a fake name living in an undisclosed city.
“I lived in the South for quite a while. I went as far as Biloxi Mississippi, Gulfport, Texas, Virginia. All over the place,” Cullotta said in the 2002 interview. When asked if he stuck out like a sore thumb Cullotta said, “Terrible, terrible, especially Texas. This is the way I sound. They knew right away I didn’t belong there. As soon as I was off parole, I was outta there.”
Below is the unedited, never before seen, interview with George Knapp and Frank Cullotta from 2002:
In 2007, Cullotta wanted to talk about the book he had written about an upcoming mob trial in Chicago. The trial would become known as the “Family Secrets” trial and essentially brought down the Chicago outfit in which Cullotta and Spilotro had been involved.
In the book, one of the never-before known secrets Cullotta wrote about, was that there was a plan to murder fellow gang member Ernie Davino to keep him from talking. Also on the hit list, according to Cullotta, former police officer turned gangster Joe Blasko. Cullotta admitted to personally carrying out a hit on Jerry Lisner in Las Vegas. Cullotta testified he did this under orders from Tony Spilotro.
Below is the unedited interview with George Knapp and Frank Cullotta from 2007:
Hollywood eventually came calling, wanting to tell a Las Vegas mob story. Frank Cullotta was eager to help, becoming an adviser for “Casino” and even playing a small part in the movie. Cullotta re-enacted one of the murders he committed.
Cullotta was recently involved with “Coffee with Cullotta,” a YouTube channel that delved into his past exploits. Host Adam Flowers announced the news of Cullotta’s death. Flowers said Cullotta was in the hospital for COVID-19, along with other health conditions.