During the golden era of Las Vegas, the Chicago mob was in charge. The late 1950's through the early 80's, when Chicago outfit bosses gathered for a conclave, it was in a private room away from the prying eyes of federal agents. But this weekend, some of the biggest mob names convened for something called Mob-Con.
Not only was it in public, it was for the public, and the reformed gangsters charged admission to get in.
"This town was built by the mob," said Robert Allen, promoter, 2013 Mob-Con.
Robert Allen may be a promoter, but he speaks the truth about Vegas having been built by the mob. From Bugsy Siegel to Tony Spilotro, when Las Vegas was mobbed up, it was the Chicago outfit that was calling the shots. And doing the shooting, in some cases, was Frank Cullotta, an admitted Chicago hitman-turned-informant and witness, and now turned mob-con organizer and pitchman.
"I actually moved down here in 1978; I was sent down here to be the underboss for Tony Spilotro, and Tony was mostly in charge of this town, and ah, I took over the street crime and I did some work in the casinos, catchin' thieves and stuff. If need be, break their legs or arms or whatever," said Frank Cullotta, organizer, Mob-Con.
Cullotta has been honing his Chicago tough-guy talk for several years and finally decided to take it on the road. Last weekend's Las Vegas Mob-Con featured more than a dozen speakers from former outfit investigators and federal agents to Frank Calabrese Jr. and other once-notorious hoodlums who have gone straight and are now trying to peddle their past.
With at-the-door tickets going for $230 per person, Mob-Con is something they would like to take on the road.
"We'd like to take it to Chicago, the mob cities: Chicago, New York, Kansas City. But that remains to be seen what happens," said Allen.
They might have a difficult time opening that attraction in Chicago. The city has always frowned upon mob tributes and any public celebration of Chicago's gangland past. The first Mayor Daley ordered most outfit landmarks torn down in the 60s and 70s so they wouldn't become mob shrines.