Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sandy Smith's Nerves of Steel

In 1966, intrepid Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sandy Smith broke a national story about how the Chicago mob controlled and skimmed millions of dollars a year from Las Vegas casinos. The cash was lugged out in bags and suitcases and personally delivered to the Tony Sopranos of the day in Chicago, Miami, Cleveland and New York.

"To protect that vast funding of syndicate operations, a generous and steady supply of money was kept flowing into politicians' warchests," Smith wrote. "The gifts were labeled political contributions but were considered as payoffs by the gangsters and their casino frontmen."

Smith later testified for two hours before the Nevada Gaming Commission, and, less than a year later, seven Nevada hoods were indicted.

Nineteen years would pass before Martin Scorsese's film "Casino" would dramatize the "skim" that Smith revealed first.

Now, here's where the nerves of steel come in: As part of his research, Smith once crashed a wedding reception for the daughter of a mob boss and wrote down all the names on the table cards.

Thanks to the Sun-Times

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