Thursday, February 08, 2007

Battle of Thieves?

Friends of ours: Frank Cullotta, Tony Spilotro
Friends of mine: William "Slick" Hanner, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal

Since 1995, George Knapp has been the chief reporter on the Las Vegas Channel 8's I-Team investigative unit. In that capacity, he has earned two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a national Edward R. Murrow award for his investigative stories on the voter registration fraud in the Clark County election of 2004. Knapp has won eleven Emmy Awards. Seven were for his "Street Talk" commentaries and one was for an investigative story. Seven times, he has won the Mark Twain Award for best news writing from the Associated Press. Recently Knapp ran a series (Part 1 and Part 2) that covered his interview with Frank Cullotta, a former thief/mob hitman who turned government informant.

Slick Hanner has shared with me an email that he has sent to Knapp in which he challenges the credibility of Cullotta. In addition to providing examples, Hanner proposes a sitdown in which Knapp moderates a discussion between the Cullotta and Hanner as a "Battle of Thieves". It is a compelling idea and one that I hope that Knapp embraces. Below you will find Hanner's email to Knapp. Feel free to pass along your thoughts on this to both myself and directly to Knapp.

Dear Mr. Knapp,

The last couple of nights I watched your show on Frank Cullotta with my mouth open in disbelief. This guy is trying to whitewash every lousy thing he did. I admit to being a thief all my life. But I was an honorable thief, meaning I never snitched on my friends or turned states evidence against anyone. You will see that I'm telling the truth when you read my life story in my newly released non-fiction book, Thief! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist (Barricade Books.) In the book, I reveal my life of crime with the mob, prostitution and gambling when I lived in Chicago (Outfit headquarters,) Miami and Las Vegas. And I hold nothing back about what kind of a guy I was. I wrote THIEF to straighten out the public on Cullotta and Rosenthal's lies (Pileggi's main informants) in the book Casino.

Cullotta was the worst kind of thief. He thought nothing of betraying his friends and even turned on his brother in order to save his own neck. Now he's on your program telling so many lies, which I will be happy to refute.

For instance, Cullotta said Tony Spilotro brought him to Las Vegas to be in his Hole in the Wall Gang. But the truth is that Cullotta came to town as a pimp for his girlfriend, Debbie, who worked at the Dunes. Then Cullotta hooked up with his boyhood friend, Tony Spilotro, and asked Tony if he could bring his own burglary crew to Las Vegas. Tony said yes as long as he got a piece of Cullotta's action.

Mr. Knapp, this is only one example but there's much more. I can recite chapter and verse on the truth about Frank Cullotta. I also have a friend who is willing to step forward with more evidence of Cullotta's lies, and he was in a position to know. Together, we have an arsenal of information that has never come out previously. Should you want more information from me or care to have me on your show, I will be happy to give names, places, dates, etc., as would my friend.

Why would I even bother to do this? Cullotta makes the Hole in the Wall Gang seem like Robin and his merry men, just a bunch of innocent pranksters. What a joke! Let's get some facts on the table. Maybe you could have me and Cullotta on your show together in a "battle of the thieves?"

William "Slick" Hanner

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