I put a lot of gangster information in Gangland Wire and not as much information abut the art colony started in the River Quay. In my film, I do interview two famous Kansas City artists. Philomene Bennett has work in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art as well as the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph and the Daum Museum in Sedalia. Bennett co-founded and served as president of the Kansas City Art Coalition. She credits much of her success to what she calls “belligerent conviction.”
Lou Marak is married to Ms. Bennett. I interviewed them in their south Kansas city home which looked like an art gallery. Marak has taught at the Kansas City Art institute, worked for Hallmark hand has pieces in many galleries and important private collections.

They rented a large gallery and living space above Poor Freddies for about $75.00 a month from Marion Trozzolo. The River Quay art colony was a thriving creative addition to Kansas City.

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailI have not said much about the River Quay development. The first 1/2 of Gangland Wire tells the story of how this entertainment district developed. A man named Marion Trozzolo (click on his name to see the book he wrote) had a business in the City Market area. He saw all these great substantial unused brick buildings going to waste. He bought up some and obtained leases on others. He fixed up a few and enticed artists, restaurants and other small boutique type businesses to open with cool spaces, low rents and a proximity to downtown KC.

The City of KC had forced a block long strip of seedy bars to relocate because of a new convention hotel construction. These guys were connected to the local mob and they wanted to move into the River Quay. The son of a mob guy owned a successful River Quay bar named Poor Freddies. Freddie Bonadonna resisted this move by these mob associates because he knew this would destroy the friendly family oriented atmosphere that was making him and others money. His father was ordered to make Freddie quit resisting and to help them make this move though his own political connections. Freddie refused and his father, David Bonadonna, was killed. This murder was the beginning of the end for the River Quay. Freddie Bonadonna lived out his life in the Witness protection program.

At age 32, a real estate developer named Allen Glick was getting into the casino and hotel business in Las Vegas. He found that making a deal with the Midwest Mafia families got him a 62 million dollar Teamster’s loan. He bought the Stardust hotel and casino. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was installed by the Chicago Outfit to oversee the skim. Lefty and Glick clashed and soon the Mob decided they needed a more pliable Strawman to install as the front man owner. Carl “Tuffy” DeLuna was dispatched to tell Glick he must sell out and leave the casino. Tuffy was recorded telling how he had told Glick he must leave the casino. This conversation was recorded at a rear table in the Villa Capri bar In Kansas City.

I was interviewed on the Crime Beat Radio show last night. Co-hosts R0n Chepesiuk and Willie Hyb have the world’s biggest audience in the true crime genre with over 200,000 listeners. Both are true crime authors in the area of organized crime. They both are very excited about the new perspective Gangland Wire brings to the subject with the extensive use of the actual wiretap audio from government archives. Click  here to listen to the interview.

Check out Crime Beat shows and more about Ron and Willie, go to Crime Beat Radio.

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIn the late 1970s, the Nevada Attorney General Bob List has filed  an action to ban Lefty from working at the Stadust. Mr. List is running for governor and Lefty Rosenthal has come up with a blackmail plan to get him to stop his action against Lefty. Joe Agosto has advised Carl “Tuffy” DeLuna of this plan. In this excerpt from the microphone in the Quinn & Peebles office, Tuffy tells Nick about the plan. Nick’s reaction shows he is not just an old gangster in modern times. A few days later Nick will get Lefty on the phone and tell him to “cool it, just cool it.”

In a modern twist, the daughter of a deceased Nevada Gaming Investigator, Dennis Gomes, has written a book that contains an account of Mr. Gomes investigation of the Stardust. Jane Morrison of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that this book cast allegations that Mr. List may have acted improperly in his investigation of the Stardust.

The F.B.I. investigation failed to uncover any malfeasance on the part of Bob List.

Bob Arnold and I had a source who ran a body shop and owned a tow truck. Carl Spero had stolen a  D-9 Caterpillar from a construction site. He had a spot to sell it down in the south central part of the state. He was taking it down on a low boy and the truck broke down. They called back to Kansas City and asked my guy to come down and tow the truck off and somebody else got the Cat pulled away and given to the buyer. We went down and my guy pointed out the exact spot. The County sheriff started asking questions and soon learned of a farmer with a new Caterpillar. A visit from the sheriff and the cat was soon returned to the owner.

No charges were ever filed because we did not want to expose the source. We had to be careful with sources as they may try to do illegal activities knowing they were protected. We could not allow that, but if they reported doing something shortly after the act and nobody was harmed,  then we may give them a pass. Plus these activities could not be started by the source, the source had to be an underling. This is how it works.

I had learned about this source from some public records checking. He held a business license to a car lot where some mob guys had been known to frequent. I searched him down at his new business. I walked in, identified myself and asked him what he knew about organized crime in Kansas City. This stolen property was on his mind and he agreed to help. He ended up becoming a valuable source for several years. I could send him into a situation and he would go in make some friends and let me know who was who. He was not really a criminal and never got involved in any more criminal activity. He knew a lot of people in the mob and was happy to keep me informed as to their legitimate businesses.

Gangland Wire will premiere at the Crown Center Screenland theater on Friday November 15, 2013. I have partnered with CinemaKC to show this film. I believe the film business in Kansas City is important for us as a Midwest cultural center and (click here to Like on facebook) CinemaKC promotes Kansas City films. CinemaKC produces a weekly television show on KCPT featuring local films and filmmakers talking about their work.

meat market smallThe B & C Meat Co. was owned by Al Brandmeyer and the Civella family. I remember it was located just east of Paseo about 8th or 9th St. They sold a lot of meat to restaurants. The Outfit has always owned companies that supplied bars and restaurants. Cigarette machine and other vending machines were often owned by mob dominated businesses. I believe this is  because many mob associates as well as people who gamble and drink are involved in these endeavors. You might notice the names of the two guys that did the arson on the Hereford House. Mr. Pisciotta and Mr. Sorrentino may be what we call, “connected guys”. When the Mob does business with restaurant and bar owners, they keep a constant  source of information coming in about who is doing good and bad. That information lets them know who is vulnerable and susceptible to illegal help.

Gangland Wire documents the war between the Spero Brothers and the Civella Family. Carl Spero wanted to put pressure on the Civella family in an attempt to “take over” the  La Cosa Nostra family in Kansas City. Part of this was the robbery of Al Brandmeyer of proceeds from B & C Meats.

Carl Spero helped  a  guy named Leonard Crego get out of the Missouri State Penitentiary by giving him a job (at least on paper). Crego was a very dangerous man. He was known as “the Arab” and was the head of all illegal activities among Caucasian prisoners in the pen.  His criminal specialty was armed robbery. He was in the pen for robbing a supermarket. During this supermarket robbery, The Arab carried 2 handguns.

Spero sent Crego to  B & C and he robbed Al Brandmeyer of over $10,000.00 in cash. This money was probably Civella money from the sports book. After the actual robbery, he forced Brandmeyer into the trunk of his own car. Once inside, Crego, who was carrying 2 hand guns, emptied both guns into the trunk. By some miracle, none of the bullets  struck Brandmeyer. While he was shooting, Brandmeyer reported the suspect yelled, “Tell that fucking Nick Civella the Arab is in town.” Shortly after, a suspect was arrested during the robbery of a drug dealer (a family member slipped out and called  the cops during the home invasion robbery). This suspect had 2 handguns and was named Leonard Crego. He was on parole and the parole was violated. Bob Arnold and I went to the Jackson County jail and interviewed him about the Spero connection. He refused to talk. The Arab was one of the scariest individuals I have ever interviewed.  I was relieved to exit that interview room. We heard that even the Spero brothers were relieved to get the Arab out of circulation because he was hard to control and so dangerous.

Leonard Crego goes back to Jefferson City, behind the walls, to maximum security. He has aged and lost something because he cannot regain his power and dies from a heart attack shortly after his return. This is not before he has to make a spear from a shank wired to a  broom handle and fight off 4 or 5 young prisoners. This guy was one bad dude. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the Arab.

Nick Civella and his gang learned the identity of the B & C Meat Co. robbery suspect and his connection to Carl Spero. They would soon strike back in a horrible gruesome manner.

After Duardi was released from the Grove Oklahoma sentence, he started holding court at a small used car dealership at Gregory and Troost. A loan shark named Frankie Robertson and a small time mob associate named Joe Sivliango were usingJimmy Duardi this as a front. Joe was involved in cheating lending institutions using wrecked cars to get floor plan money and then he expanded to be involved in obtaining loans from a corrupt banker at the Shawnee State bank.

Jimmy was more sophisticated and he backed a guy starting an escort service and helped another guy get a bank loan from the Traders National Bank though a Teamsters supported banker and politician named George Lehr. Now Mr. Lehr was not really a corrupt politician or banker, he just thought he could run with the big tough boys. Of course, he was way over his head and his bank lost $300,000.00.

Bob Arnold and I were following Jimmy and Clifford Bishop and we watched him unload boxes of frozen meat from the back of his pickup truck at the Italian Gardens restaurant. We knew something was up because a restaurant does not buy meat out of an unrefrigerated  truck.

We got a whole team on him and found his connection to a Jim Elgin who had obtained the above $300 K loan and was on his way to busting out his trucking company called J&L Refrigeration. Several Kansas City food outlets were buying meat from the back of a pickup truck.