Frank Cullotta, the Hitman Turned Vegas Tour Guide

dailybeastJohn L. Smith interviews Huntington Press author Frank Cullota on being a Vegas tour guide.

Back when Frank was just a boy, his father was killed steering a car for the Outfit with the cops in hot pursuit. Frank was a loyal driver during a long criminal career as Chicago mob enforcer Tony Spilotro’s loyal lieutenant. Cullotta was along on plenty of capers.

When Cullotta was compelled turn on Spilotro, the reputed killer who was depicted by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, the loyal underling was marked for death. A consummate survivor, Cullotta cooperated with the FBI, endured threats and epithets, and emerged a winner in a death-defying game of chance. Spilotro and younger brother Michael were murdered in 1986. Their bodies were uncovered from an Indiana cornfield.

Less than a decade later, Nicholas Pileggi captured the Las Vegas mob zeitgeist in his nonfiction bestseller Casino, which became a star-studded blockbuster that entertained the masses and helped slap a coda on the mob era on the clean-shaven and corporate Las Vegas as the new century approached.

These days Cullotta faces a dilemma almost as great as getting a death sentence from his old pal Tony: how does a lifelong wise guy earn an honest living in Las Vegas, the town that used to be an open city for the mob?


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