MYSTERY WIRE — Frank Cullotta, mobster turned informant and widely known as a friend of notorious mob boss Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, died early Thursday morning. He was 81.
Cullotta was recruited from Chicago to join Spilotro in Las Vegas, and became a member of the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” Cullotta’s name was inextricably tied to Spilotro, from their teen-age friendship to their days on the streets of Las Vegas.
Cullotta was an admitted killer, known to have killed three men, and he implicated Spilotro for ordering the deaths.
Spilotro was one of the most feared mobsters ever in Las Vegas, and king of the street rackets in the 1970s and 1980s. It was a botched burglary in 1981 that drove a wedge between Spilotro and Cullotta, eventually putting Cullotta on the path to being an informant and years in the witness protection program.
When Cullotta came out of the program, George Knapp was the first to interview him. Cullotta spoke about Spilotro in a story marking 30 years since Spilotro and his brother, Michael Spilotro, were found buried in an Indiana cornfield.
When it came time to tell the stories in Hollywood, Cullotta was involved. He served as an adviser for “Casino” and played a small part in the movie.
Cullotta was recently involved with “Coffee with Cullotta,” a YouTube channel that delved into his past exploits. Host Adam Flowers brought the news of Cullotta’s death Thursday morning:
Flowers says Cullotta was in the hospital for COVID-19, along with other health conditions.
Geoff Schumacher, Vice President of Exhibits & Programs at the Mob Museum, said he spoke to Cullotta a week ago.
Schumacher had previously interviewed Cullotta for the Desert Home Companion and
National Public Radio. He described Cullotta at the time as “the living link” between Las Vegas and Spilotro.
The Mob Museum had been talking to Cullotta about the possibility of cooperating on a museum program.