You don’t have to be a local history buff to be interested in the chronicles of Kansas City’s infamous mob family. Those of us who were around here in the mid-1970s recall the headlines. We remember the explosion in the River Quay. We read the headlines of mob hits and watched the violence escalate as members of “the family” extracted vengeance.
Gary Jenkins, a former police detective (now attorney and author) takes us back to the players and key events of those days in Leaving Vegas: The True Story of How the FBI Wiretaps Ended Mob Domination of Las Vegas Casinos, recently released in paperback and Kindle formats.
He sets the scene with descriptions of the anti-government attitudes. Remember the Vietnam War protests and the Watergate scandal? Still, the groundwork that would lead to the end of mob dominance in Vegas had already been set with the passage of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968. That document allowed court-ordered electronic surveillance if investigators could prove they had already exhausted all other tactics.
When the court approved wiretaps of key mob figures, they had a flourishing sports gaming operation. They had also tapped Teamster’s Pension Fund to finance purchase of casinos in Vegas. The wiretaps soon uncovered just how complex those operations were. They also turned up evidence of how mob-placed workers skimmed millions of dollars in cash from two Las Vegas casinos. Wiretaps also overhead the skimmers worrying about the gaming board headed by Harry Reid and about the governor’s race in Nevada.
True crime fans will find Leaving Vegas a unique read. It provides verbatim transcripts of the actual wiretaps. Jenkins gives contextual explanations and behind-the-scenes scenarios as agents inserted themselves and their listening devices into place. They listened in as mobsters made phone calls to their operatives in Vegas and even where they gathered for pasta and family pow-wows.
We already know the story’s ending
We all know the rest of the story. Nick Civella and his lackeys, as well as members of the Chicago and Milwaukee mob families, were either convicted and sent to prison or went into witness protection. Despite knowing the conclusion, readers of Leaving Vegas will get a rare glimpse into some adrenalin-fueled drama and the conversations among career criminals as they plotted their strategies.
For those who want an even more intimate look at this era in Kansas City history, check out Jenkins’ Kindle version of Leaving Vegas. It provides links to Vimeo audio recordings of the actual wiretaps, some of it in Italian. The audio lends an extra dimension of authenticity to a fascinating time in local history. And in case you don’t remember what the key players looked like, Jenkins provides links to mobster photos too.
This is Jenkins’ second book. This Kansas Underground Railroad buff has even produced films on the subject. Gary also produces a true crime podcast called Gangland Wire. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His new book is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Vegas-Wiretaps-Domination-Casinos/dp/1540779254 and the Kindle version is available at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Vegas-Gary-Jenkins-ebook/dp/B01ND1TUYF/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486154804&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=kindle+version+of+Leaving+Vegas+by+Gary+Jenkins
Personal Chapters LLC enjoyed helping tell yet another fascinating bit of personal local history.