October 5, 2022 — Cantankerous and colorful Chicago mafia associate Frank (Lefty) Rosenthal survived a car-bomb attack 40 years ago this week in Las Vegas. Who gave the order to kill the valued mob inside man and expert handicapper remains a mystery to this very day.
Rosenthal’s Cadillac El Dorado was blown up as he put the key into the ignition following lunch at Tony Roma’s Place For Ribs on East Sahara Avenue on October 4, 1982. Rosenthal was known to ruffle feathers and was feuding with famously unstable Chicago mobster Tony (The Ant) Spilotro and mafia bosses in Milwaukee and Kansas City at the time of the attempt on his life.
Childhood friends Spilotro and Rosenthal were sent to Las Vegas to look after Midwest mob affairs in the gaming and hotel industry. Rosenthal ran The Stardust, and other mob-controlled gambling palaces. Spilotro operated a bevy of street rackets on and off the Strip and watched over the mob’s “skim” (stolen cash out of casino count rooms distributed to mafia shot callers in rustbelt towns hundreds of miles away).
By the 1980s, the working and personal relationship between Spilotro and Rosenthal began to significantly fray. Spilotro engaged in an illicit romance with Rosenthal’s former showgirl wife, Geri McGee that caused concern from his mafia superiors in Chicago. The love triangle was a central part of the plotline for the classic 1995 film Casino, starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone as characters based on Rosenthal, Spilotro and McGee. The car bombing scene opened and closed the movie.
McGee died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles less than a month after Rosenthal and his car got blown up in Tony Roma’s parking lot. She was hanging around a group of L.A. bikers, who would surface as suspects in the car bombing.
Spilotro was brutally stomped, strangled and beaten to death in June 1986 for his increasingly insubordinate behavior, which resulted in a sprawling federal takedown of mob dons from Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Cleveland in the preceding years. According to FBI records, Spilotro died a suspect in some three dozen gangland homicides in a mob career that stretched back 30 years to the Windy City’s rugged Westside.
Rosenthal was kicked out of Las Vegas in 1987, placed in the city’s Black Book, and re-located to South Florida. Following his passing of a heart attack in 2008 at age 79, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Rosenthal’s longtime status as a top-echelon confidential informant for the FBI.
This article was originally posted here