Las Vegas is a city known for its seedy underside. A lot of shady dealings and criminal operations have gone down in the city of sin. Let me show you three cases which really shook this town when they happened.
1. Hilton Arson
The Las Vegas Hilton is well known for its amazing musical acts. Back in the day they had Elvis and Liberace headlining. But it was also the scene of a horrific crime.
Philip Cline was working as a busboy at the Hilton for exactly two days when a horrible fire broke out in an elevator lobby. He alerted as many guests as possible and claimed that he used a nearby garbage can to throw water on the fire. The fire subsequently consumed most of the building, killing eight and injuring more than 200.
At first everybody lauded Cline for his brave deed but soon enough investigators started to grow suspicious when he accidentally blurted out that he had “grabbed a trash can and filled it with fire”. He eventually came clean to smoking a PCP laced joint before work and in his stupor used his cigarette lighter to set fire to some curtains. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
2. Kidnapping of Steve Wynn’s Daughter
Steven Wynn, the billionaire that owns Treasure Island and the Bellagio was the target of criminals who in 1993 kidnapped his daughter. They demanded $2.5 million in ransom for the return of his 26 year old daughter. They settled for $1.45 million after he told them that was all the cash he had on hand that night. He left the money in a car a few miles from the strip. After the kidnappers picked up the ransom they called Wynn and told him where he could find his daughter. He found her safe and sound in a car at the airport parking lot.
The police got lucky thought when just one day after the kidnapping, Ray Cuddy, a sporting club manager, walked into a car dealership and tried to buy a $200,000 Ferrari with cash. When he returned to the car dealership to finalize the deal, the FBI was waiting for him. Shortly after his arrest they also caught his accomplice, Jacob Sherwood. They were both convicted with multiple charges and sentenced to decades in federal prison.
3. The Hole in The Wall Gang
Tony “The Ant” Spilotro was the go to guy for mobsters who needed an enforcer. During the 70’s and 80’s, Spilotro worked for a lot of mob bosses around the country, protecting their investments in strip casinos. When they needed an informant or troublemaker gone, Spilotro was the man hired to do the deed.
But Spilotro had bigger ideas so he started his own criminal enterprise. He formed a group which became known as “The Hole in the Wall Gang”. Their usual jobs were robbing drug dealers and loan sharking but they were most notorious for performing high-end burglaries. Their name came from their tactic of smashing a hole in the walls or ceilings of the stores they robbed in order to bypass alarm systems.
All of this came crashing down in 1981 when six of its members were arrested during a burglary. The federal government charged Spilotro but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. In June 1986 before his retrial he was brought to his bosses in Chicago along with his brother Michael, a fellow mob enforcer. They were sent to Indiana for a business meeting where they were met by a group of mafia hit men. They were beaten and strangled and their bodies buried in a nearby cornfield. Live a violent life, die a violent death.
So if you’re thinking of going to Las Vegas for a gambling vacation, keep in mind where you handle your business and who you talk to. You wouldn’t want to end up on the news now would you?