Michael Spilotro

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Michael Peter "Micky" Spilotro (September 12, 1944 - June 14, 1986) was the brother of Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro and was an associate of the Chicago organized crime organization referred to as "The Outfit".

Family background[edit]

Michael was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 12, 1944. He was the son of Pasquale Spilotro, Sr. (1899–1954), a restaurant owner, and his wife, Antoinette. Michael had five brothers, Vincent, Victor, Pasquale "Pat," Jr., Tony and John. He stood at 5' 6" and no one ever called him "Mike" only "Michael".

He attended Burbank Elementary School, and entered Charles P. Steinmetz Academic Centre in 1953 with his brothers Victor, Vincent, Anthony and Pasquale.

His parents, Pasquale Spilotro, Sr. (who emigrated from Triggiano, Italy and arrived at Ellis Island in 1914) and Antoinette Spilotro (who was a domineering mother), owned Patsy's Restaurant. Unlike most Italian immigrants who settled in "The Patch," (located around Grand and Western Avenues), the Spilotros lived at 2152 North Melvina Avenue, on the west side of Chicago.

Mobsters such as Salvatore "Sam" Giancana, Jackie "The Lackey" Cerone, Gus Alex and Francesco Nitti ("Frank the Enforcer") regularly dined at Patsy's, which was on the west side at Grand and Ogden Avenues, using its parking lot for mob meetings. Patsy’s was a small place famous for its homemade meatballs that attracted people from all over town including Anthony Accardo, Paul Ricca, Sam Giancana, Gus Alex and Jackie Cerone.

In 1954, Pasquale, Sr. suffered a fatal aneurysm and died at the age of fifty-five.

His brother Anthony would later drop out during his sophomore year and transfer to a trade school with Frank Cullotta. It is thought that Michael dropped out of school shortly after his brother Anthony to follow in Anthony's footsteps.

Michael's brother, Pasquale, became an oral surgeon and dentist in the Chicago area, and Vincent lived a law-abiding life.

Tony, John and Victor became criminals like Michael. As a child he and his brothers grew up in a two-story wooden bungalow just a few blocks from Frank Rosenthal's childhood home.

Michael spoke in a dapper Chicago accent and pronounced his vowels flat.

He was married to Anne Spilotro and father to Michelle Spilotro Capozzoli, Paula Spilotro, and Michael Spilotro Jr.(born 1978).

He had once been arrested for aggravated assault with Rocco Lombardo, the younger brother of future mob boss Joseph Lombardo and Peter Schivarelli, a former Notre Dame University football player, but the trio had been acquitted.

Spilotro's wife and daughter would later testify in 2007 for the prosecution regarding the Spilotro Brothers' involvement with James Marcello.

In 2007, Anne Spilotro testified at the Family Secrets trial about how she reached out to mob boss James Marcello for help and allegedly was swindled after selling her husband's Chicago restaurant to state Democratic Senator James DeLeo and attorney James Banks, the nephew of Chicago's 36th Ward Alderman William Banks. Upon hearing the allegations, DeLeo expressed amazement at her complaint to reporters. DeLeo said he and James Banks converted the restaurant into a pizza parlor that later failed.

B-movie Hollywood career[edit]

Michael was childhood friends with actor Robert Conrad and through Conrad, also became close friends with Robert's fellow Hollywood actor Larry Manetti (one of the supporting stars of Magnum P.I.) and his wife Nancy DeCarl. In a 2008 interview, Conrad described the late Chicago Mob associate and burglar Michael Spilotro as his "best friend".

Michael first met Robert Conrad in May 1954, when Robert was only 25 years old. At the time Conrad had eloped with a lawyer's daughter and lied about his age to gain employment as a longshoreman down at the Chicago waterfront. He was later fired in December of that year for handing out a petition to have his union steward fired. The two remained close and Michael later appeared as a stick-up man in Conrad's TV series The Duke in 1979. On the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) website, Michael is labeled as a dramatic actor. Through Conrad he became close with actors Patrick Wayne, Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams. He later was featured in Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy released in 1982, and with Tom Selleck in the first season of the TV series Magnum, P.I., in the episode 12 entitled "Thicker Than Blood" as an armed federal marshall.[1][2]

After moving to Las Vegas, shortly before his death, Michael helped run The Goldrush Ltd. with Anthony and his other brother John who worked as a bookmaker. Michael soon became involved in bookmaking, drug dealing, prostitution, robbery, and extortion. Through his relationship with Larry Manetti he had connections in the Plaza Hotel & Casino when it was under the ownership of the Barrick Gaming Corporation. Lifelong friend and fellow actor Larry Manetti told reporters from The Chicago Tribune during the Family Trial, "I didn't know Michael was a gangster. I knew him as a guy I grew up with in the neighborhood. Michael wanted to be on TV, that's all. Who wouldn't.... He was trying to be a movie star or an actor, he was having fun." Manetti commented to reporters about Michael's acting ability stating, "He was OK as an actor, he wasn't so stiff." It is unknown if Michael approached any movie production studios for acting jobs, but his performances on television were said to be given "two-thumbs down" by critics. Robert Conrad attended funerals of the Spilotro's family, and made no effort to hide his appearances from the press there. There was no attempt on the part of either Robert Conrad or Larry Manetti to attend the funerals of Anthony or Michael. He didn't appear publicly with either brother even when they were alive. Conrad attempted to keep his association sub rosa also and when he struck the jackpot at Anthony Spilotro's Monte Carlo restaurant he quickly left before attention could be drawn.

The Hole In The Wall Gang[edit]

Spilotro, in 1976, formed a burglary ring with his brother Anthony and Herbert Blitzstein, utilizing about eight associates as burglars. The crew became known as the Hole in the Wall Gang because of its penchant for gaining entry by drilling through the exterior walls and ceilings of the buildings they burglarized. The Hole in the Wall Gang operated out of The Gold Rush, Ltd.

Other gang members included his younger brother John Paul Spilotro, Polish-American brothers Peanuts Pancsko, Butch Pancsko and Pops Pancsko, Frank DeLegge, Michael LaJoy, Joseph D'Argento, Gerald Tomasczek, Peter Basile of Wilmette, Illinois, Carl Urbanotti of Chicago, Illinois, Ernest Lehnigg of Addison, Illinois, Samuel Cusumano, Joseph Cusumano, Ernesto "Ernie" Davino, 34, Las Vegas, "Crazy Larry" Neumann, Wayne Matecki, Salvatore "Sonny" Romano, Leonardo "Leo" Guardino, 47, Las Vegas, Frank Cullotta, 43, Las Vegas, and former Las Vegas Sheriff's Department Detective, Joseph Blasko, 45, Las Vegas, who acted as a lookout and who later worked as a bartender at the Crazy Horse Too, a gentleman's club, and died of a heart attack in 2002.[5]

Following the botched burglary at Bertha's Household Products on July 4, 1981, Cullotta, Blasko, Guardino, Davino, Neumann, and Matecki were arrested and each charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted grand larceny and possession of burglary tools. They were locked into the Las Vegas police department's holding cell in downtown Las Vegas. The only members of Spilotro's gang not arrested for the July 4 burglary were Blitzstein, Michael Spilotro, Romano and Cusumano. Meanwhile, Cullotta had turned state's witness, testifying against Anthony and to a lesser extent Michael Spilotro. But the testimony was insufficient, and Tony was acquitted.

Grisly execution[edit]

By 1983, Michael was the main point of contact for mobster Joey Lombardo, in Chicago. Michael probably would have become a "made member" of the Outfit if his brother Tony had not ended up in trouble with the organization. In the end, the Outfit bosses allegedly decided to kill both brothers.

On June 14, 1986, the bodies of Michael and Tony Spilotro were uncovered from a cornfield near rural Morocco, Indiana. The two brothers had been severely beaten, strangled, and then buried in shallow graves. Dr. John Pless, a forensic pathologist who helped conduct the autopsies on Michael and Anthony, stated, "Michael Spilotro's Adam's apple was fractured, his nose was broken and kidney was torn," and "there was so much bleeding, almost [his] entire right lung was filled with blood".[3] Their brother Pasquale, Jr., could only identify them with the help of dental records. Spilotro's black Cadillac Deville was later found at a Schiller Park Howard Johnson's motel parking lot.

On September 27, 2007, a jury in U.S. District Court found longtime Chicago mob boss James Marcello guilty in the Spilotro brothers' murders. In February 2009, Marcello was sentenced to life in prison for the murders. The killings were ordered by Angelo J. LaPietra "The Hook" who was one of the top bosses for the Outfit and controlled the 26th Street Crew (AKA Chinatown Crew) from a local social club on 26th Street. Frank Calabrese and John Fecarotta were given the go ahead and developed a crew of several men for the contract.

Vincent Spilotro, the son of Tony and nephew of Michael, stated during the media coverage of the Family Secrets trial that his uncle Michael Spilotro had actually been the main target of the executions after angering Outfit leadership, and that his brother Tony was only killed to prevent later revenge actions. The veracity of his statements was not commented on by the jury, attorneys or others, although this scenario, in light of both Spilotro's earlier (and unauthorized by the Outfit) activities in Las Vegas, is probably unlikely.[4][5]

In popular culture[edit]

Philip Suriano's character "Dominick Santoro" in the 1995 film Casino is based on Michael Spilotro. Santoro is shown assisting his brother and his crew in beating up a man outside of a bar, spitting in a police officer's sandwich, and later gunning a cop's home. In the infamous cornfield scene at the film's climax, Dominick is the first of the Santoro brothers to be brutally beaten. While Dominick appears to be killed with two particularly lethal blows to the head before being dumped into the hole, Robert De Niro states that both were still breathing when they were buried. In reality, both brothers were dead before they were buried, although it has been speculated that Anthony died from asphyxiation due to sand discovered in his lungs during an autopsy.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • The Enforcer: Spilotro-The Chicago Mob's Man in Las Vegas by William F. Roemer, Jr. ISBN 0-8041-1310-6
  • Honolulu Star Bulletin Vol. 12 Issue 175 "Maui fest shows film stars under the stars" John Heckathorn
  • "Mistress Humiliates Marcello" The Chicago Sun Times Steve Warmbir August 3, 2007
  • Doctor At Mob Trial Says Spilotros Beaten To Death by Chicago Associated Press

External links[edit]