The Dunes: Money, mob, and a great Las Vegas story

True Crime

A neon sign that reads “Dunes” (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

MYSTERY WIRE — In the fall of 1993, the iconic Dunes Hotel-Casino on the Las Vegas strip was imploded. This was the end of just one of the many mafia-run casinos in the entertainment capital of the world.

But eventually, it all came crashing down beginning in the late 1970s.

In the early days of Las Vegas, banks wouldn’t make loans to casinos so the gambling industry causing the mob to turn to the Teamsters pension fund for money to build and expand.

The Dunes opened its doors on May 23, 1955 as the tenth resort to open on the Strip. In the months leading up to its opening, two other casinos, the Riviera and Royal Nevada also opened. Neither of those exist anymore.

There was Teamster money in pretty much every major casino on the Strip, and those loans came with strings attached, namely, the mob.

The Dunes project was already underway in the early 1950s when Al Gottesman from Miami and Joe Sullivan from Rhode Island were asked to invest. Both men did, but Sullivan did not disclose his ties to mobster Raymond Patriarca. Eventually a Beverly Hills jeweler named Bob Rice would raise over a million dollars to invest and that was followed by a $3.5 million loan from the Teamsters pension fund.

By the late 1970’s the feds were moving in on the mob in Las Vegas. By the early 80s the kingpins were squeezed out and corporations moved in. A string of spectacular implosions wiped the mafia-controlled casinos off the map. Among them, the Aladdin, the Sands, and the Dunes.

Writer Geno Munari worked at the Dunes. He knew the mob connected owners and managers, and says law enforcement mostly left them alone. “The only thing the law enforcement worried about was, of course, customers getting robbed,” Munari said. “You know, if something happened in a room, hookers that were bad hookers, I hate to say that, but that’s the truth. And there was no Shakedown unless they didn’t register under county requirements.“

Munari has written a tell all book, The Dunes Hotel and Casino: The Mob, the Connections, the Stories. It’s all about the wise guys who ran the Dunes and much of Las Vegas.

The Bellagio now towers over the site where the who’s-who of the mob world used to roam. The famous Dunes golf course would also be ripped up, eventually becoming home to New York New York, The Cosmopolitan, City Center (Aria, Vdara, Crystals, and Waldorf Astoria [formerly the Mandarin]), and more recently T-Mobile Arena where the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team plays.

Geno Munari is naming names, at least some of them, in this exclusive audio interview with Mystery Wire.

George Knapp
Geno, great to see you. I just got to tell you that I got the book. And it’s jam packed with great stories about a bygone era and mob figures and tidbits of history that I had no idea about. So I recommend that people check it out. I want to talk to you a little bit about the book. Let’s start this way. How long were you there? What years did you work there in?

Geno Munari
I worked there on two occasions. I worked there from 1968 and left for a short time in 72 I think it was, and it came back and I stayed until I believe just 76.

George Knapp
So those were key periods, of course. But the scope of the book is way beyond just the time you were there. You did a lot of digging for this.

Geno Munari
Yes, I tried to basically cover every management team that was there, there was eight management teams. And so I thought it would be the best way to tell the story from the start until the finish. And that’s what I did.

George Knapp
And a lot of the information came from people you worked with people who are friends of yours, people who trusted you. You say in the foreword that you kind of struggled with the idea about whether to tell the stories or not. How did you end up deciding?

Geno Munari
Well, if I didn’t tell them, who’s gonna tell them? That was my one thing. And, you know, and my journalistic days, I felt that truth had to be out there. And I really believe in my heart, those owners, God love them, were so good to everyone. They didn’t want wanna-bes to tell a story that wasn’t true. I believe, after the fact I think they kind of proud of what they did there. I really do believe that. So I decided to tell it. And I couldn’t get any help from the gaming control board, other than have to buy a transcript for $800. They wouldn’t even give me a picture of a person who’s been dead for 50, 60 years. And that’s one of the things I have a little gripe about, I guess. And I handled it quite politely I think. There are some things that I think they need to be uncovered, especially when board members can go out and do oral history reports, and talk about stuff that you and I have no idea what it is.

George Knapp
I saw that section in your book, where you talk about the difficulties in getting information out. What do you suppose the reason for that is?

Geno Munari
It’s a state law. And they hide behind this broad interpretation of the law. And if you know who Eddie Torres was, he ran the Riviera, you try to find a picture of him online, you might find one, but you can’t find anything like that. And so you don’t have the actual photo or know the source. You know, you’re out of luck. And I believe that gaming is history. And I think at one point, why shouldn’t they release it? I understand personal data, I mean, you know, account numbers and social security numbers, but what about the rest of them?

George Knapp
Give me a sense of the Dunes’ special place in history. So, you know, all of those resorts on the strip, had mob money to one degree or another, but seems like the Dunes, the history that you outline, all these characters. They had just so many connections to mob families and mob interests all over the place.

Geno Munari
The Dunes started off that way with a hidden owners of Ray Partriaca. And I don’t know who else was involved with him, but he was there. And he had some front guys working for him. And one of the front guys was Bobby Lazoff, Porky Lazoff, two brothers from Cincinnati that worked with a lot of the guys in the Beverly Hills club and so forth. And documents i i unveiled a showed story in the Hartford Current, how associated Patriarca was even with Hoffa at that time. And so now the put it together was kind of difficult because when the first operation of the Dunes failed, there were just no business out there. There was guys that I knew that actually worked there, there was no business. There was not anything of too much skimming or too much this or too much that, there just was no business. So the place went into foreclosure, and Gottlieb, Jacob Gottlieb, they called him Jake. He had a brother John Gottlieb. He wound up with the property. And then he made a deal with Bill Miller and well actually was Major Riddle first. And they put together the Dunes. And then they needed a little help, and they brought Bill Miller in, who had the famous nightclub in New Jersey right across the Washington Bridge, and they made the place to work. Then I found the FBI memo that they said they caught Major Riddle stealing of $40 to $50,000 a month and they were gonna eliminate him one way or another. And then that brought in, they needed an operator. So (Sid/Sidney) Wyman, (Charles “Kewpie”) Rich, and (George) Duckworth. Duckworth was a Rich’s stepson, come in and took over the Dunes. And they never looked back. They had the finest of everything. Riddle has absolutely nothing to [inaudible]. Out of courtesy. Charlie Rich, Charles Rich, they called him Kewpie, not to his face of course, his family might call him Cookie. Charlie Rich told Major Riddle, Okay, you can either be the president, or you can have the biggest office. What do you want? He said I want to be the president. So he gave Major Riddle title of president. Charlie took the nicest office in the back. And these guys made the Dunes. They had the finest restaurants, Sultan’s Table, Dome of the Sea, where they had a girl playing a harp going around a little a waterway there. And you’d eat you could see that. And then they had the Top of the Strip, where Bob Anderson got his big start. And he was brought out here by a junketier, a Detroit junket. And they had the golf course, they had every amenity, they had a health club, every amenity anyplace could have. It was absolutely just great. First class. Top food. Sultan’s Table was the finest restaurant in town.

George Knapp
I’ve eaten at the Sultan’s Table, with Ash Resnick, by the way, and at Dome of the Sea. And we’ll get into Ashe’s name in a minute. Major Riddle, describe him. What kind of guy he was like and what his era was like? Do you believe that he was stealing as that FBI memo suggests?

Geno Munari
I have to, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have proof. I just go by what I read, but somebody caught him doing something otherwise they wouldn’t have had this conversation. And so, you know, I’m sure he was trying to maybe get his investment out or whatever he was doing. But that’s when they brought in the new crew and Wyman came in. And he was a major operator. And he had all the power. That guy’s a guy that was the man. And Rich, who was his partner from St. Louis in the bookmaking operation, and Duckworth his stepson, they ran the place, period.

George Knapp
So Sid Wyman, who was he connected to?

Geno Munari
He was from St. Louis. He was a bookmaker, big gambler. And Charlie Rich his partner, they operated the biggest handbook in the country. They actually used the Western Union company to bring bets in. He paid the operators in different cities, commissions for everything that they brought to them. To give them gifts. I mean, it was like, what an operation they have.

George Knapp
You know, it seems like there was skimming to one degree or another, all through the history of the Dunes. I’m trying to imagine Major Riddle, allegedly stealing $40 or $50 grand a month, he would have been stealing from those other guys. If he’s doing this on his own. That’s pretty dangerous when you consider who those other guys were.

Geno Munari
Yeah, I think, well, Patriarca wasn’t present, you know, in those days. He had a guy by named Baborian, and he was around here quite a bit. So nobody really knew except real operators who came in to look and they know they needed help. So Bill Miller, who had the Riviera in New Jersey, decided to leave and he went to the Sahara. And then then he went to the International with Kerkorian. And he’s the one that booked a lot of the big acts there. It wasn’t Stan Irwin, it was Bill Miller. So Bill Miller left, his wife told me, that there were some problems. I believe that’s why he left. Now, I believe all the time that Hoffa had a piece of the Dunes from day one, through Gottlieb. Gottlieb, I found an article where Jay Gottlieb who in western transportation from Chicago, he had horses and other businesses. He said in this article that Jake and John Gottlieb were one of his first customers ever signed with the Teamsters. They were loyal right to the core. And so that’s how the place went forward. And then, of course, we find FBI transcripts of of Wyman talking to a guy with Giancana and this guy that’s a friend of Giancana, his name is Potsie Earl is asking Giancana, What do you think about Wyman and the Dunes? He’s, uh, he needs a little help there. I think I’d like to invest. What do you think about that? And this was discussed with Giancana. And we had another FBI affidavit that says that Giancana was an owner and a guy by the name of Gus Alex was an owner. And there’s also a hint that [inaudible] was an owner from Detroit. So they had a Detroit crew in there too.

George Knapp
So it’s like a who’s-who of different mob families. Patriarca was New England mob family, right? And you say that at one point, Nick Civella, I guess during the (Morris) Shenker era, Nick Civella’s Kansas City mob had a piece of it.

Geno Munari
Well, so that was an interesting story. It really brought up an interesting situation. You have another guy, that’s kind of a lesser known guy. Civella, as you know, went to the Appalachian meeting. He actually was there. And another fella by the name of Anthony Giordano, who was a regular visitor at the Dunes when I was there, I wouldn’t say regular, but I knew him on a first name basis, not as a friend, but as a respected guy. And he’s very close to Dave Goldberg, who was one of the managers in baccarat who was Sid Wyman’s, one of his right hand guys. They basically, Giordano had to say, had the control over Roy Williams was the International Brotherhood of Teamsters President at one time. And they had to defer to Giordano because that was his his deal. And so we have an incident where Civella was in the Black Book. He was inducted into the Black Book, and I don’t have the exact date but I believe 1960, I could be wrong about that. And he went to the Dunes, and I have evidence that I can’t reveal the source. But the source says that Ralph Lamb (former Clark County Sheriff) knew he was there. And he did Wyman a favor, and he told him to leave. You know, he didn’t want any trouble, you know, and he did leave. But Wymen and the Dunes got fined, $50,000. And the attorney Herb Jones, who was Cliff Jones’s brother, was the original Dunes attorney, Cliff was, he got the fine droped to $10,000. And there was a stipulation on the fine that Wyman come in for hearing for licensing. In other words, to get a re-licensing and let’s take a look at you again. He got that droped. Now you talk about juice. I never heard anything like that. That’s incredible. So then, of course, the skimming came around in 1971, where the FBI had a thing called Project Janice, where they actually trained FBI agents to watch the crap tables. And they counted, they had one guy on each side they counted the drop, the money that went into the drop box, the currency. And they finally figured they had enough information to gin up an indictment and they did and indicted six owners. And they beat the case. Shenker was the attorney but not the real attorney of record. It was Harry Claiborne was the attorney. By the way, after this Wyman asked me to teach Harry Claiborne’s daughter how to deal baccarat. We taught her how to deal baccarat.

George Knapp
Harry Claiborne for those in our audience who don’t know, became a federal judge and he was impeached.

Geno Munari
Yeah, now here’s the really craziness of this George. This is beyond me. And I would pay a reward, right now, to this day, if somebody could provide what I’m going to ask. I went to the Bruce Thompson courthouse, Reno, Nevada, went to the clerk’s office, I had an attorney do the same, to search the trial transcripts and the trial or any documents they have. They’re completely vanished. They do not exist. individual names do not exist. They’re completely gone. Now, this was days before computers per se. So you know, I can speculate, but I surely don’t want to blame anybody.

George Knapp
There’s a reference in your book to a secret photo. The real godfather of Las Vegas, pictured with bosses of La Cosa Nostra.

Geno Munari
Yes, I have a picture. Yeah, I have a picture that was given to me. This is a very protected thing. I will show it to you in person. I will not transmit it to anybody. Only because the respect I have, they guy who gave it to me. The guy who gave it to me is one of the most, non Dunes employee. One of the most respected guys in Las Vegas, had some very big positions with government, not government, county, basically, and also with certain casinos. And in the picture, it shows him, his father, two guys, I don’t have any idea who they are. One guy’s got one hand in the side pocket. And then you have Jimmy Blue Eyes in front of them.

George Knapp
Vincent Alo, Jimmy Blue Eyes. He was Meyer Lansky’s guy, right?

Geno Munari
Yes. And this gentleman who gave me the picture said, here’s the real godfather of Las Vegas, he told me that.

George Knapp
Is it a name we would know?

Geno Munari
You would know it and you’d fall off your chair if I told you and I can’t do this hear.

George Knapp
A lot of people have have sort of positioned Moe Dalitz as the godfather of Las Vegas, The reluctant godfather of Las Vegas, he came here and tried to go straight. There is something, I’m trying to remember where it is in your book, there’s a conversation, is it Sid Wyman and Moe Dalitz?

Geno Munari
Sid Wyman and Riddle about trying to get a license for somebody. And you know, in that new document I sent you talks about how Riddle was so friendly with Sawyer, about buying that insurance company they were going to buy. But he wanted to run it past Sawyer first. So I think everybody knew what was going on there at the Dunes.

George Knapp
Well, let me ask you about that. So what was law enforcement doing during all these periods? Was they’re pretty intense focus on the Dunes and the various players? And were you aware of it? Were the employees aware of both who they were working for, mob influence in the place, and the fact that law enforcement was watching?

Geno Munari
The only thing the law enforcement worried about was, of course, customers getting robbed. You know, if something happened in a room, hookers that were bad hookers, I hate to say that, but that’s the truth. And there was no shakedown unless they didn’t register under county requirements. But I really don’t remember any problems with any county policeman except for, they harassed Dave Goldberg, because Dave Goldberg just wouldn’t take any crap from anybody. He was the nicest guy you ever saw in your life, but he wouldn’t back down from anyone.

George Knapp
Well, what about FBI interest? I mean, at some point, they had to be looking at the skimming, right?

Geno Munari
Yeah, they were, they were around their trying to nab somebody. And they’re trying to turn people. And they used to sit on slot machines near the baccarat, peak around the corner looking so he was there. This is true.

George Knapp
So you could spot them right off the bat?

Geno Munari
Yeah. And one time I was walking, I was going to the coffee shop, and one of the guys from the golf course I recognized him. His name was Tom Ault, an FBI agent. And he said hello to me. And I was afraid if anybody saw him say hello to me, you know, what do I want to talk to him for? But, you know, they developed some informants in the Dunes. And one of the informants that I found in an FBI document was the sales manager of the hotel. His name was Lenny Schaefer and his son, he’s still alive, was the Clark County administrator. And in the FBI document, he talks about how he actually acted as a simple FBI informant for some other things that went on. And I don’t know how the Dunes never found out about it. If I would have showed this to Wyman, if he was alive today, there’s no telling what would happen.

George Knapp
Do you think there were a bunch of informants there, whether reporting to a variety of agencies or primarily FBI and did you suspect any of them at the time?

Geno Munari
I don’t think they did. You know, the FBI was always looking at certain people. Like anybody with Hoffa. So they were looking to Gottlieb a little bit. And Gottlieb had some weight. And I would have to think that, there was a guy that was working there his name was Sam Landy. Worked there two times that I know of. And Sam Landy came there in the Riddle era. And somebody must have walked up to him that was an FBI agent. And I got a document that says this publicist says that Gottlieb has been really active in their business meetings, basically said a little more than a normal person would do if they were not an owner licensee. Now, that’s not the proper thing to do if you’re an employee of the Dunes hotel And I always wondered about him. What he did to Sam Landy, he’s the one that I worked under him in my later years at the Dunes when I was fired by Schanker. And Landy approached a very prominent gaming writer in town. I’m going to tell you his name. Phil Hevener. Phil Hevener lived, I don’t know where he lived, but he said Landy said that I want to want to talk to you, Phil, and Phil went over to speak to him. I hope I got this right, but the gist is correct. And he said, Jablonski is trying to do a deal to get somebody and I want you to help me if you can, and Hevener flat turned them down and walked away. And Phil brought that up to me. I didn’t find that. Phil was interviewing me about game, we were talking about baccarat years and years ago and he said, Did you used to work at the dunes? Then he told me that story. So we had some people, and then I remember one day Duckworth and Howie Engle, another owner of the dunes, a nice nice guy came from Florida. And he was also a bookmaker, came up to the baccarat and I thought George was going to stop and speak to me, George Duckworth, he was the casino manager, six foot two, six foot three, Howie Engle about five foot seven, they walk up to the front of the baccarat, and we have steps that go into the pit, and Landy was on the other side facing the casin on a ladder chair. And George starts screaming at him across the pit. There was customers on the table. He says, Don’t you ever pull anything like that again? Landy, I’m going to tell you, and he just went on and on. We were like, shocked. George was so mad, you could see the veins in his neck. He grabs Howie Engle, the little guy next to me says Come on, we got to go. He almost pulled his arm off he was so angry. So Landy, Landy, we don’t know what his purpose there was. But George Duckworth told me once, before he died, he told me, he said, it is a very good possibility that Shenker could be an informant. Never said any more about it to me. It is a possibility. And I gotta say something to you, just to clear the air here. So George called me and he said Shenker wants to get rid of you. So why don’t you resign? I said, I don’t want to resign. I said, You know, all I have is my job. You know, I was only like 30 years old, I think. He said, Well think about it. Called me next week back into the office. And he says, I gotta let you go. That was that. I was honored that maybe, say 20 years, 30 years later, George came to me and he wanted to buy into my business with me. So I was honored that he knew I had integrity, and I didn’t do anything wrong to make him ashamed. So that was important to me.

George Knapp
Let’s talk about Morris Shenker. So I’ll just fill it in this way. When I was a young reporter, like the first or second year as at Channel Eight, the FBI had got tapped a phone call that involve Shenker and I think it might have been Nick Civella, and they had some information that they were about to break. Channel Eight, Bob Soltdal (news director) and Ned Day (reporter) sent me to go interview Shenker, not telling me about this FBI wiretap and not telling me the news is about to break. I’m just supposed to interview him for a kind of a profile piece about him at the Dunes, but we got some great stuff out of him. Tell our audience about who Morris Shenker was, how he ended up there, and about his relationship with Jimmy Hoffa.

Geno Munari
Well, Shenker, his real name, which I found out through a source I cannot reveal, his real last name was Greenberg. That was his real last name. A friend of our families who was from St. Louis, now we lived in Burbank, California, in Burbank, California, the St. Louis Browns used to practice winter baseball. This gentleman Dick Westbrook, who is an old family friend, but we didn’t know what he really did. I mean, I didn’t know, I was a kid. He moved out there and built the motel right across the street from this ballpark. And that was his business. You know, over the years after I worked for Dunes and I used to go see Westbrook. He told me Shenker used to stand in front of the courthouse in St. Louis, no business and he fixed traffic tickets for two bucks a pop, parking tickets. No, nothing wrong with that. He’s got to work. He got to work. But he was from St. Louis. He married into a family that had the Plaza Hotel. Park Plaza I believe it was. The Chase Plaza Hotel. His wife’s parents, you know, they ran that. He was an attorney. He was used on some of Wyman’s early cases in gambling charges, he got in trouble in the crap game. Rich got in trouble with an IRS suit. They used him then. He might have helped them with paperwork. But nowhere was he on the license at the beginning of the Dunes or even asked to be on the license. He was a guy that basically inherited the place because of the skimming incident. He decided to sell. So in 72, 73, you know, here’s the casino manager, two or three of the owners involved in the skimming thing, even though they’re not guilty. You know, they had a public company called Continental Connectors. So it was probably a wise idea to make it look like let’s sell this thing and get rid of it. They were gonna buy the Golden Nugget, by the way, that’s a whole nother story. So Shenker basically learned how to process applications for the Teamsters and Hoffa used him one time for a thing and Hoffa was kind of angry about getting the pardon because he didn’t realize he had a, could not run and could not do anything with the union till it was all over with. But Shenker was basically in the right place at the right time with everybody wanting to retire or leave. And he had another guy by the name of Irwin J. Khan, a developer in San Diego. He started borrowing money for real estate for the Dunes and I believe they still were given the money back to certain people in the mob they owed money to. In the conversation you’re talking about was a teamster teamster office with Alan Dorfman, Joey Lombardo. Joey Lombardo threatened Shenker. And, basically, the gist of it is, if you owe us you’re gonna pay us otherwise you’re not going to live past 72. And I can hear Morris, his voice. Oh, you know, that’s how he talked. He’s a brilliant guy. I gotta say that. I think he was a greedy. Anyway, they found records of payments made, you know, to certain individuals, I’m pretty sure Civella got money the whole time. And then, of course, Shenker kept taking money out of the place and diverted into Marietta Hotsprings and other business deals. And he really couldn’t run a casino. Basically, he didn’t have the acumen to run a casino. When he first took over a friend of mine, who was a gaming writer, and also a dealer for many years, went to the new meeting of all the new employees and all the bosses and Shenker tells the story on what’s going to happen and this one floor man, raises his hand and he said, Well, what about our insurance? Are we going to have the insurance like we had before? Shenker says, No, you’re not going to have because you’re not working here anymore. Basically fired the guy right on the spot. Cool guy, however, let his wife do what she wanted to do in the casino. She would come up to a 21 table, ask for markers, never sign anything, of course. You know, the floor man would run away. And he just wasn’t a guy like Wyman, Rich, or Duckworth.

George Knapp
I got the impression that he was a brilliant guy and a good lawyer. And I think I remember that he was Hoffa’s lawyer for a time or in some kind of proceeding. And I thought that that maybe that was how he ended up there. So for our viewers who don’t know that time period, those days, banks wouldn’t loan to casinos. So if they wanted to build or expand, they had to get loans somewhere and the Teamsters’ pension fund became the bank, but all these loans of millions of dollars to all these properties on the strip always came with conditions, right, strings attached about who had to be in what position and it facilitated skimming a lot of properties. Am I correct?

Geno Munari
Yes, you are.

George Knapp
So Hoffa had a great deal of interest in Las Vegas and a great deal of money that he had directed, he and Alan Dorfman, as loans to these properties. And the properties came with conditions. There were skimming operations by various mob figures and families in different cities around the country. And it sounds like every family had a piece of the Dunes at one time or another, but…

Geno Munari
I don’t think Dorfman liked Shenker. And there’s some reasons it’s strange things. You know, one day I was in the pit and we had a customer that was absolutely a big role, betting 4,000 a hand, betting for the dealers. You know, it was unbelievable. So we had a cocktail waitress and the guy wasn’t drinking, all he was drinking was coffee. So she wasn’t making any money whatsoever. So the we decided, let’s put a bet up for the girl and make sure she gets some money for the day. You know, She’s a nice girl. So if we gave her a bet, she said, Thank you so much. And now we’re still winning more money. And this is unbelievable. So we said, let’s give her one more. We give her one more. So she kisses me on the cheek. The other floor man comes over to me after she left he says you know what that is? Yeah, it’s Alan Dorfman’s girlfriend. Now, that’s one. Now another one. I’m not going to mention the person’s name. But I’m going to mention who the person who was related to. Jack Cerone.

George Knapp
Oh yeah. Jackie “the Lackey” Cerone. The Chicago Outfit. Yeah.

Geno Munari
Yeah, I knew him and his step brother. No, I didn’t know him, I knew his step brother, excuse me, from being around the Dunes. So there was a relative ofCerone’s that was supposed to get a job. And he just happened to call her up one day and say what happened? They never called me. Following day she was working in there. And so here’s two characters from Chicago that are not from St. Louis that only could be involved because of Wyman and Rich. Okay. And that was those two guys. And that’s where the Dunes’ loans came from, from Dorfman, who was Hoffa’s handpicked man to do that. He hand picked him to do that. And anybody else could have done it, but they hand picked him to do it. So Dorfman was the guy. That’s Chicago. And so there we go.

George Knapp
Dorfman, of course, if anybody has seen the movie Casino. I think Alan King played Dorfman and he was the money guy who handled the loans to different properties. His dad was a teamster who also was mob connected, and he was gunned down when the pressure came down to stop the skim and put away all these monsters. He was killed in a parking lot. And of course Hoffa disappeared. As we know.
Geno, I want to throw out some other names and get your your take on it. I mentioned earlier Ash Resnick, I should just preface this with I knew Ash pretty well. I knew his wife, I knew his daughters. I had heard the stories about his connections to different mobsters and things of that over the years. I was thought he was an interesting character. And I didn’t really care about whether he was mob connected or not. Give me your take on Ash who was a casino host at several properties on the strip and was highly regarded. I mean, he got the job done. He brought in good customers. But I think you had mentioned about what happened to Dorfman. Somebody tried to bump off Ash Resnick at one point. Do you know about that?

Geno Munari
Yeah, I do. Actually. I liked Ash. I thought he was a good character. He was kind of a man’s guy, you know. He got in trouble with Jimmy Blue Eyes when he was the Blair House right near Channel Eight. They used to have a bookmaking operation around the pool. And this friend of mine who gave me the picture was called by Jimmy Blue Eyes to go over there and find Ash Resnick where he is, I guess they told him you better start doing your work instead of sloughing off all the time. So they warned him. I liked him. He was with Lansky at the Thunderbird. He worked the Dunes twice, maybe even three times. He worked there as a host. He was the sports coordinator. He brought boxing over there. He had the Patterson fight workouts I think over there. He was a regular guy. So he was also involved in the Tropicana and I don’t have all the details. I didn’t write a book about him. But I basically give you the fringe of this. So something happened, okay. I don’t know what it is. To bomb somebody or to kill somebody, you got to do something pretty bad. You know, not just grabbing something out of the skim that day, once, but maybe on a continual basis or whatever. I don’t know what it is, or maybe steering people away from a deal. But Dave Goldberg was a guy that worked with me every single day. Dave Goldberg was involved in sports fixing and he was friend of Molinas I think his name was Molinas, the guy that was the famous guy that went to jail. Anyway, Dave went to jail before he came to the Dunes. And he did five years for bribing and fixing sports bets. Now these guys, you have to understand, the Dunes guys were the biggest playoff guys in the country. They never had a sports book in the Dunes when I worked there. They didn’t want one, didn’t need one. They had one upstairs. Anyway, so something happened. And Dave’s cousin Chuckie Burns used to come by there every other day and say, Hey, how you doing? Sometimes he’d say, Could you help me pick something up? I got a bridge club off off of Sahara and Maryland Parkway. I need to pick up the the tables in the backgammon table. Would you help me with, I know you got a pickup truck. Yeah, be happy to. We became friends. And he says, I opened this back up, you want to be partners? I said absolutely. Absolutely. So that never happened. But all of a sudden, you know, I’m reading about Ash Resnick’s bombing. And I get into it. And if we find out that there’s a guy that’s going to put a bomb and Ash’s car, the guy rolls over and says, who was the guy that told you about this? And they told it was Chucky Burns. I says Chucky Burns, that couldn’t be the same guy. So I found I found his picture and it was him. And here’s the guy that was like your uncle. Okay. So I think they were acting for Anthony Giordano and possibly Civello. Something was something was wrong. Ash was ash did something to either messed up a deal or take advantage of something that he shouldn’t have taken advantage of.

George Knapp
You mentioned Jimmy Blue Eyes. Vincent Alo was his real name. As we mentioned before, he was like right hand man for Meyer Lansky. So he’s high up there. If he was mad at Ash Resnick as well. I mean, would they have had to ask Vincent Alo for the okay to do bomb Resnick’s car?

Geno Munari
Oh, this was a totally different timeframe. The bookmaking operation was in the early late 50s. Not in the same timeframe. Ash was around Caesars quite a bit. And we do know, I have an FBI document that shows who one of the biggest stockholders was in seizures. That was “Fat” Tony Salerno. So there’s some issues there, you know.

George Knapp
So do you think they were trying to kill him or they wanted to send a message his car blew up, right?

Geno Munari
No, no. The FBI put a fake bomb in. They let the guy go through with it, the thing. They did shoot at him one time, but that was a different incident. It never happened. Chucky, Chucky Burns was arrested for your house arrest by Judge Goleman he fled the town and went to St. Louis and never found him. Oh, that’s a crazy story.

George Knapp
There was another guy named Marty Buccieri. Can you share about what happened to him?

Geno Munari
Well, I met him one time. But he basically claimed that he’s the one that got the loan for Allen Glick. And he kept bugging everybody about it. I guess he was bugging Lefty (Frank Rosenthal at the Stardust), about getting some money for it. And basically, they just eliminated as he was, you know, he probably was a little too loud with his mouth and causes some problems. That’s the story that I heard.

George Knapp
Let’s see. Wally Cox, you have a story about Wally Cox. People today might not remember who Wally Cox was, but he was pretty famous back then.

Geno Munari
Mr. Peepers. I don’t think he’s the right kind of an act on the Dunes myself. But they wanted women.

George Knapp
Yes, they booked him for the Dunes, for the showroom.

Geno Munari
And they booked him in there. He never rehearsed. And he came in there. And who do you think his number one fan was in the audience? Marlon Brando. And he was there, he was clapping and, you know, and he got into a beef with Jake Gottesman, Gottesman was one of the original builders of the dunes with Patriarca and Bill Solomon. And they got into a big argument. And it was in the newspapers. And that was that, he didn’t last.

George Knapp
Did you know Sheriff Ralph Lamb?

Geno Munari
I did.

George Knapp
What’s your take on him? You’d mentioned that he gave him a pass. He’d let the dunes off with a warning or something like that, let Civello get out of there. But what was your take on Ralph?

Geno Munari
I liked Ralph. I think he was a good sheriff. And you wouldn’t have all this pornography on the street we have today if Ralph Lamb was still the sheriff. Basically what they did is they busted, the new sheriff that came in busted all the bellman. So now, how do they get the girls to the rooms? Through pornography. Through freedom of the press. They are handing it out right in your face. So you know the town was, it ran smooth, it ran smooth, and you didn’t have any trouble. I mean, I hate to use that word safe, but the streets were always safe. But basically, they were pretty safe.

George Knapp
Well, that’s the cliché is that the town was better when the mob ran things. But the argument could be made that Ralph Lamb ran things. I mean, he had a live and let live philosophy with the mob guys on the strip. As long as they didn’t got a line. I mean, he didn’t really mess with him. Which, you know, some people might complain about that. But it was it was necessary for the town, but does the mob get credit for keeping the peace and keeping crime low? Or does it just happen coincidentally, at that time?

Geno Munari
Well, those guys didn’t tolerate any, you know, first of all, the girls had pimps. Okay. Ralph Lamb didn’t tolerate that. And, you know, to come around, and be active and present. He didn’t tolerate that. He kept the streets clean. And you know, he did have a presence and people were a little bit afraid of the cops. You know, you get out of line you’re gonna get you’re gonna get smacked.

George Knapp
And Ralph would do it personally.

Geno Munari
That’s an interesting story about that with Rosselli, the Desert Inn. And he did that. You know, and a lot of people claim that Rosselli’s death was caused because of him ratting on the owners of the Fontier. But I don’t know that that’s true. I don’t think Rosselli ratted on them. I don’t believe that’s the case, I believe somebody else did, which I can’t talk about TV about.

George Knapp
Johnny Rosselli was involved in a lot of stuff over the years. He had a meeting, he was a go between the mob and the CIA and a plot to kill Castro. That’s the story we’ve been told. So when he was going to testify about that in the Senate committee, that might have been a reason for him to end up in a drum in Biscane Bay.

Geno Munari
It could have been, could have been. Also, though, you know, at the same time, Geincana died within a year I think of that time, and they believe he was going to start talking because he didn’t have power anymore. So that’s could be very well could be.

George Knapp
One other question. I remember when they imploded the dunes. It’s kind of heartbreaking to see a classic property like that go, a piece of Las Vegas history. I know that they replaced (it) with something else grand and wonderful, was built on that property. But all of those implosions, to see those places go. It just takes a piece out of your heart. I’m sure that is more true for you. You’ve been here longer than me.

Geno Munari
It bothered me so much when they left the sign lay there for days. The Dunes sign would just lay there. You know, it was just terrible. That was a great hotel. It was wonderful. Interesting story of Kerkorian wanting to buy that hotel. And he prepared one of his chief executive officers a deal to go buy it. And the middle of the night, he called him up and he canceled. Kerkorian was very impulsive that way. And this is gonna sound this is gonna sound crazy, but it’s just a theory. Kerkorian would have been a great frontman run a hotel, I’ll put it for you that way.

George Knapp
Well, I mean, he was rich enough. He didn’t need the mob’s money, though. At least later in life anyway.

Geno Munari
Yeah, he was a gambler. I mean, he, you know, he did things. But, you know, it was always very strange to me. When he sold the Grand Hotel, first Grand Hotel, his own, the president of his hotel. The Chief Executive Officer of his hotel, his casino director, none of them knew about it. None of them were consoled. It was done in the middle of the night. Done. And he sold it cheaper than the par value. People wonder about that. And I wonder about it. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but I always wonder about competition. And the MGM Grand was big competition for the deal. That was a really classic hotel.

George Knapp
Where do we get your book? Where do people buy it?

Geno Munari
It’s gonna be available. mid summer. (It is now available). So looking forward to it.

Geno Munari
I want to just tell you one thing I forgot about. Hoffa. You know, every day I would drive to my work, and I stopped at the red light, where The Cromwell hotel is on the strip, and wait five minutes for the red light to cross the street. Well, at that time, there was a place called the Desert Villa Motel where The Cromwell is. I kept looking at it, and said what a great place that would be to put a small casino. So I went to work. I thought about it. And then I approached George Duckworth. I say, George, I want to tell you about an idea. It’s a place across the street. You could do something like Circus Circus did and built Slots o’ Fun. Let them do it. You could do that there. He says, well, let’s go take a look at it. We went over there and met the owner, Phil Empy. And we talked to him and we looked around and George says, I like this. This is good deal. We’ll get a Teamster loan. We’ll buy it. He said that to me. we’ll get a Teamster lone. So then, he says go back to Empy, get his final price. He had told us $2 million. Okay. So I went back to Empy and I says, George wants to do something here. Just give me your right price that you want for this. He says I want $2.1 million. He raised it by 100,000. George says f that. That’s the end of this. And then I see later on when the Barbary Coast is going to be built, the Dunes complained about them and so did a couple of other hotels. They didn’t want them to build it. So that was my part of fame that went down to tube.

George Knapp
Gino, thanks very much. I recommend the book.

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