At the height of his underworld
career, Tony "the Ant" Spilotro (1938
) was the Las Vegas enforcer
for the Chicago Mob
, working with Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal
to ensure that profit-skimming operations at the casino
s went smoothly and attracted as little attention from law enforcement agencies as possible.
Born in Chicago to honest Italian immigrant parents, Spilotro began his criminal activities as a purse snatcher and shoplifter. He was recruited into the Outfit by the notoriously erratic and homicidal capo "Mad Sam" DeStefano for whom he carried out the job that made his reputation. Billy McCarthy and Jimmy Miraglia had committed three murders in a neighborhood where many mobsters lived and which was therefore decreed off limits to criminal activity. Spilotro was contracted to kill the pair; he caught up with McCarthy first and demanded to know Miraglia's whereabouts. When McCarthy refused to cooperate, Spilotro put his head in a vise and squeezed it till McCarthy's eyes popped out of their sockets. Soon afterward the bodies of both men were found in the trunk of an abandoned car.
In the early 1970s the new Outfit boss, Joey Aiuppa, decided that Spilotro was the man to oversee their operations in Vegas. This was a position of tremendous responsibility, and the fear Spilotro inspired in people kept things well in hand throughout the decade. However, Spilotro's unauthorized activities were a cause of concern to his employers.
While in Vegas he formed the "Hole In The Wall Gang" which committed a series of high-profile jewel robberies. It was also rumored that Spilotro was dealing drugs and that he was having an affair with Lefty Rosenthal's wife. This behavior, coupled with increased pressure from the FBI, led to Spilotro's downfall.
On June 16, 1986 Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael traveled to the Midwest for what they were told would be a strategy meeting. The pair were driven to a cornfield near St. Anne, Indiana where they were beaten savagely with pistol butts and then buried alive.