Reported by: Tom Hawley
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) – This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Martin Scorsese’s "Casino” – a movie which unlike many others set in Las Vegas – gets it right.
In this Video Vault, we look at one small scene from that movie that happened 40 years ago.
“Well it was based on a woman named Tamara Rand who was a real estate investor in San Diego,” says the Mob Museum’s Geoff Schumacher.
“Who was really the front man for the Argent* Corporation, which owned the Stardust and three other hotels in Las Vegas,” explains Schumacher. “But, of course, which was secretly operated by the Chicago outfit and other Midwestern mob groups.”
Joe Bonpensiero picked up the story, talking about his uncle, Frank “Bomp” Bompensiero: “Frank had a good reputation in the Midwest, in the East Coast -- Chicago, Kansas.”
Bompensiero operated out of San Diego, where Rand lived and Glick had gotten his start. Joe says his uncle Frank was acquainted with Las Vegas muscle man Tony Spilotro, played in the movie by Joe Pesci as Nicki Santoro.
“Spilotro, being from Chicago, etcetera, or back and here. Not familiar with the area,” Joe said. “Turned to somebody he knew that lived there he could trust. And that would have been Frank.”
Spilotro had been sent to San Diego because Rand was suing Glick, having been a silent partner in his enterprises.
“She invested in it on the premise that she wanted to get into the casino business,” says Schumacher. “But she felt like Glick had betrayed her, and that he had not honored his obligations.”
The lawsuit would have meant opening the Stardust account records, exposing the skim.
“But before she could start counting her money, the boys back home decided to settle the case out of court instead. So they called me,” says Santoro/Spilotro in the movie.
Rand was shot five times with a .22-caliber gun, Spilotro’s weapon of choice. The movie implies Spilotro made the hit solo, and Bompensiero is not represented.
“They were together,” Joe explained emphatically. “No question about it.”
Was Frank just a wheelman, or did he pull a trigger? All people can do is speculate.
“Where are they gonna get the information?” asks Joe rhetorically. “From the source? And they ain't talkin'! Or they're gonna go to the dead guy?”
The two men sent on the hit went out gangland style themselves. Bompensiero was shot in a phone booth in 1977; Spilotro, whose legal counsel in Las Vegas was future mayor Oscar Goodman, was beaten to death and buried in a cornfield in 1986.
Another Video Vault will shed a lot more light on Frank Bompensiero later this month.
Meanwhile, the Mob Museum is hosting a "Courtroom Conversations" discussion on the movie “Casino” with legendary Las Vegas broadcasters Gwen Castaldi and Bob Stoldal on Saturday, Nov. 7.