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The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob [Kindle Edition]

Dennis Griffin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Book Description

From the 1970s through the mid-1980s, the Chicago Outfit dominated organized crime in Las Vegas. To ensure the smooth flow of cash, the gangsters installed a front man with no criminal background, Allen R. Glick, as the casino owner of record, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal as the real boss of casino operations, and Tony Spilotro as the ultimate enforcer, who’d do whatever it took to protect their interests. It wasn’t long before Spilotro, also in charge of Vegas street crime, was known as the “King of the Strip.” Federal and local law enforcement, recognizing the need to rid the casinos of the mob and shut down Spilotro’s rackets, declared war on organized crime. The Battle for Las Vegas relates the story of the fight between the tough guys on both sides, told in large part by the agents and detectives who knew they had to win.

Editorial Reviews


A solid, well-researched account of the years Anthony Spilotro was the Chicago Outfit's enforcer in Las Vegas. -- Sunrise View, May 16, 2006<br /><br />Dennis N. Griffin uses all of his investigative and interviewing skills to bring this fascinating story to his readers. -- Rome Sentinel, July 22, 2006<br /><br />If you want to know about Las Vegas in the mob days, this book says it all. A great read. -- Tru Hawkins, KDWN Radio, April 2, 2006<br /><br />No punches are pulled in this hard-hitting account of some of the most vicious men to ever walk the earth., August 13, 2006

From the Inside Flap

Â"Tony Spilotro was the organized crime kingpin in Las Vegas for several years. I was a cop there at the time, and was in charge of the police department during four of the most eventful years. The Battle for Las Vegas tells it like it was, and is a story long past due. Even though I was part of those times, I still have trouble believing it actually happened.Â"

Sheriff John McCarthy, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (retired)

Product Details

  • File Size: 865 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Huntington Press; First edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ELANV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,033 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read November 9, 2006
Like most new things, Las Vegas had growing pains as aptly depicted in THE BATTLE FOR LAS VEGAS.

We have all heard of Bugsy Siegel and on the other side, Eliot Ness...but how many are familiar with the likes of Tony...The Ant...Spilotro? There is speculation as to how Spilotro got his nickname...some think it was a shortened version of his given name...others thought it was due to his stature. However the name The Ant came about, he is introduced to us in this exciting portrayal of how Sin City was steeped in not only sin but greed as well.

From murder to skimming to prostitution, this account tells it all. We meet the city officials as well as the law enforcement personnel who were `in the pockets' of these crooks. The general Las Vegas public appeared to be more obsessed with prostitution than they were with the mobs. There is a theory that most mob crime is mob upon mob and the average citizen would not feel the tentacles of this corrupt octopus. The public was so concerned with the sex crimes that they voted out their Sheriff, McCarthy, who went after the mob with a vengeance.

I would like to see the movie Casino once again now that I can put names to the characters with a much better understanding of who they are...thanks to Dennis Griffin.

If you'd like a vivid portrayal of how Las Vegas was tamed, be sure to put this on your reading list.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Business end of the dog July 1, 2007
By Dutch
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent, well-written and well-researched book. The book outlines the mobs' local crew under Tony Spilotro efforts to squeeze Las Vegas dry for their own purposes as well as the skim for their handlers in the midwest. The movie CASINO parallels this story. The movie presented law enforcement as country-bumpkins that, when unable to use effective law enforcement tactics, resorted to politics to interdict the mob. Griffin does a yeoman's job in showing that police/FBI were NOT ineffective and DID prevail. They prevailed, with hands tied in some cases, because they were intelligent and brave men that never gave up.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Las Vegas history August 12, 2007
This is the book that explains in wonderful detail, how the Mob came to control Las Vegas and what they did to lose it so quickly.

it also tells the tale of the Law Enforcement coming of age at the same time. Its growth problems and going from a small town to being a big city and dealing with the big city problems it had caused.

No real telling of Las vegas history would ever be complete without this book.

Denny writes in a unique style that grabs your attention and tells you what it was like. Not boring, yet filled with details and stories from the FBI, Metro and the Mob.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for Lost Vegans July 22, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book chronicles inter alia the corruption and in-fighting of law enforcement in Vegas during the 70's and 80's when the Feds and Metro finally got on the same team against the Chicago mob, and put a major dent in it. In the end, the mob pre-empted the law and did a little house cleaning of its own. This is the real story of the people upon which CASINO was based. Many of them played themselves in cameo roles for the movie. Written by an ex-cop it has a certain Dragnet style, but worth reading for sure.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, informative! June 12, 2007
By H20
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book! It's informative, well-written, and exciting! Sometimes the truth is much more exciting than fiction. My family and I would go to Vegas in the 70's, and after reading this book, I couldn't believe what was going on behind the scenes during that time. This book gives you factual information, and keeps your attention throughout the entire book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, very informative April 24, 2008
I just finished reading this book and highly recommend it.

This book pretty much focuses on the era when Tony Spilotro "King of the Strip" ran the strip with his alleged criminal activities and ties to the mob.

There is also a lot of information on Frank Cullotta and his subsequent role as informant.
The secondary focus of the book is the term of Sheriff John McCarthy and his team and their war on organized crime.

I found this book to be very detailed and informative, containing interviews with those, who, either lived or worked on the strip during the relevant period.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this factual, well-written book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads more like a history lesson... March 5, 2013
By GeneS
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book reads more like a history lesson. Although it was informative, I just didn't get into any of the characters. It seemed very impersonal.
The time line jumped around quite a bit as well, as the author chose to write the chapters according to subject matter, more than time line.
I prefer books that tell the history while getting you engaged with the characters and therefore, the story.
This was not a page turner...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading for Any vegas fan August 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, where should I begin. Having been a frequent visitor to the Las Vegas area for over 40 years now, I have frequently heard stories about how much better things were "when the boys ran the town". One of my best friends made in Vegas was John who worked as a mechanic at the Hilton and other notable casinos. When he first told me over dinner one night on his yacht on Lake Mead, I asked "what kind of cars did you work on?". He laughed, then explained to me how he used to hide in the ceiling above the casino floor observing gambling operations below. Whenever a gambler began winning too much or his methods were suspect, a "mechanic" was sent down to even the score. John's payment was a fixed hourly wage and half of whatever he could recover from a high roller. And, judging from his yacht and sending all his kids through college, he was paid quite well indeed.
This is the Vegas that was dominated by Mob interest in 'The Battle for Las Vegas".
The book is well written and holds your interest throughout, although a bit too often it lags when discussing minor characters or other related personalities. But it is at its best when detailing the crimes and lifestyle of certain criminal residents, especially Tony Spilotro and Frank Rosenthal. And don't forget Oscar Goodman, who I have met several times, and seems to be a good guy. Allen Glick reminds me of a city attorney for a city I worked for, and he apparently had similar morals and pitfalls as well. But, I didn't know Glick lived in La Jolla, a suburb of my home town San Diego.
If you haven'y yet watched the movie "Casino", you might do so before or after you read this book. From all accounts and reviews I have read, along worth talking to some older Vegas residents, the movie was pretty close to the way things actually were.
Well worth reading. Highly recommended.
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More About the Author

Dennis N. Griffin was born in Rome, New York in 1945. He joined the U. S. Navy in 1962. After being honorably discharged in 1966, he returned to central New York. He is married and has four adult children.

Mr. Griffin began his career in investigations and law enforcement in 1975, when Pinkerton, Inc. hired ...him as a private investigator. His duties included insurance fraud, missing persons, financial and background investigations, as well as undercover operations.

In 1979 the Madison County, New York Department of Social Services hired him as a Senior Child Support Investigator. He was responsible for locating and conducting financial investigations of persons failing to provide legally mandated child support.

In 1981 he joined the Madison County Sheriff's Department, and attained the rank of sergeant. He was a shift supervisor and public information officer. During the same time-period, he moonlighted as a part time patrolman for the Village of Chittenango Police Department.

In 1987 Mr. Griffin was hired by the New York State Department of Health as Director of Investigations, Wadsworth Center. The primary mission of his unit was to investigate violations of the Public Health Law relating to clinical and environmental laboratories, and health care fraud. He was responsible for hiring and training investigators, case assignments and general supervision. In addition, he personally handled the more difficult and complex investigations. Many of these cases received both local and national media attention. He retired in 1995.

In 1996, Dennis was supposed to be retired, but decided to tell the story of what he learned while investigating the operation of a medical examiner's office. It was an eye-opening experience and he felt compelled to share it with others. Dennis eventually authored a fictionalized account called, The Morgue. However, readers didn't believe anything in the book could actually happen, but they liked the story and his style; rough edges and all. Six more mystery/thriller fictions followed.

The author is an active member of the Police Writers Association. He attended Onondaga County Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College and the Central New York Regional Academy for Police Training. He has three other novels published through 1stBooks. The first, The Morgue, was published 1999. Red Gold, followed in 2000.

In January 2002, his writing career was at a crossroads. Would he continue the uphill struggle for recognition in a genre with a number of well-established authors? Or was it time to find another hobby? The question was answered at a writers' conference when a lady suggested Dennis try his hand at police-related non-fiction. That was the turning point. He began writing Policing Las Vegas, the history of law enforcement in Las Vegas and Clark County from 1905 thru 2004. Policing was released in April 2005.

Writing that book opened his eyes to some interesting things about Las Vegas and the mob that he wanted to explore; leading to his second non-fiction book, The Battle for Las Vegas, the story of the Vegas reign of Chicago mob enforcer Tony Spilotro. In the movie Casino, actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Spilotro. The Battle for Las Vegas was released on July 1, 2006.

In writing that book, Dennis relied heavily on resources such as retired FBI agents and police detectives from that era, and through his conversations with career criminal and former Spilotro lieutenant Frank Cullotta. Those conversations led to a third Vegas-based non-fiction, CULLOTTA - The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, released nationally in July 2007.

Since that time, Dennis has written several books on the true stories of the Las Vegas mob and the era in which they reigned.

In 2007 Denny began hosting his own Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio. You can hear his broadcasts live or listen to archived shows at


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