December 8, 2022 — In the early 1980s, Anthony (Tony Paradise) Albanese was a New York-backed gangster in a beef with mobsters in Las Vegas and Los Angeles over his desire to open a co-ed bathhouse in a shopping plaza he owned just off the Vegas Strip, according to FBI records and informant reports.
On May 18, 1981, “Tony Paradise” Albanese, a 41-year old strip-club impresario, pimp and racketeer allegedly paying protection to the Bonanno crime family out New York, disappeared from his Las Vegas home at around 6:30 p.m. His severed head was discovered in the California desert three weeks later. Las Vegas Police found Albanese’s signature white Cadillac with gold-rimmed tires abandoned in the long-term parking section of McCarran International Airport.
Per sources, authorities in Las Vegas believe the rest of Albanese’s body was possibly dumped in Lake Mead and could surface in the midst of the water-level crisis the area is experiencing. At least five sets of human remains have been found since May — Clark County Officials are expecting dozens, if not hundreds, more to wash ashore in the coming years.
The FBI in Sin City is hoping to use the unfortunate set of environmental circumstances to their advantage and be able to clear old cold-case homicides and missing-person investigations connected to the Tony (The Ant) Spilotro mob crew of the 1970s and 1980s. Originally, Albanese was thought to have been buried in the Needles, California desert near where a hiker came across his head and there are still investigators that subscribe to that theory.
Spilotro and his “Hole In The Wall Gang” ran wild in Vegas, sent West by the Chicago mob to watch over its interests in the hotel and gaming industry on The Strip, but in the end he took up so much oxygen in the proverbial room that those interests would ultimately be crushed by federal prosecutors and his mafia superiors in the Midwest imprisoned as a result. The classic 1995 film Casino depicts Tony the Ant’s bloody reign in Las Vegas with Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci portraying a character based on Spilotro.
The Tony Paradise beheading murder is actually referenced in the movie. “Frankie, they found a guy’s head in the desert, did you hear about that?……Everybody’s talking about it, Making a big deal about it. It’s in all the papers…….And I mean, that’s no good,” a Chicago mob boss informs a Spilotro underling, while instructing the underling to tell Tony the Ant do conduct his business quieter.
Tony Albanese landed on the West Coast in the 1960s. With financing and muscle behind him being provided by a Bronx crew of Bonannos, Albanese began his career in owning topless bars in the Los Angeles area, opening up a string of strip clubs under the name “Lil’ Abner’s.” Although friendly with the mafia in L,A., Albanese didn’t pay tribute to the Dragna crime family, according to his FBI jacket, instead relying on his bosses in the Bonannos out East to smooth things over for him if it ever became an issue.
Moving to Las Vegas in 1972, Albanese purchased the Paradise Market shopping mall plaza at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise Avenues, earning him a new nickname, “Tony Paradise.” At his new shopping plaza, Albanese opened the Crazy Horse Saloon strip club, the forefather to the famously mobbed-up Crazy Horse Too. Albanese bought Billy Joe’s Power Company topless bar in 1979 on a piece of property where Industrial Road and a Sahara Avenue highway overpass meet and turned it into the Crazy Horse Too.
Throughout this time, according to FBI records, Albanese, was paying the Bonannos tribute from the operation of his Vegas strip club and its baked-in rackets, however not to Spilotro and the boys from Chicago. Albanese’s “benefactor” in the Bonannos was alleged to be Patrick (Patty from the Bronx) DeFillipo, a then soldier and eventual capo in the Bonanno clan.
Around the early summer of 1980, Tony Paradise conceived the idea for a “co-ed spa” to be opened in the Paradise Market Plaza, per Las Vegas Police intelligence documents. He modeled the concept after the bathhouse and swinger-sex clubs operating openly in New York City. For the rest of 1980 and into 1981, Albanese went around to his underworld pals selling ownership stakes in the club, aiming for a $250,000 start-up costs bill. The problem became both Spilotro and the Dragna crime family in L..A. — thought to be connected to some of the investors — wanted a piece for themselves, free of cost.
Per informants, members of the Bonanno crime family came into Las Vegas for a sit down with Spilotro in January 1981 to discuss the matter. The issue wasn’t resolved though. Another sit down was held with Spilotro and members of both the Bonannos and the L.A. mob in Beverly Hills in March. Albanese was “mouthy” at the second sit down, according to one informant, angering Spilotro.
Tony Paradise was dead two months later. The ending for Spilotro wasn’t much prettier. Tony the Ant was beaten and strangled to death inside a basement in Chicago in June 1986 for his continued insubordination and negative headline-grabbing behavior out in Las Vegas.
This article was originally posted here