Book Review: Sally Denton and Roger Morris, “The Money and the Power” 

Following the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines, Diana Johnstone wrote about the still-whodunit sabotage:

Imperialist wars are waged to conquer lands, peoples, territories.  Gangster wars are waged to remove competitors.  In gangster wars you issue an obscure warning, then you smash the windows or burn the place down.

Gangster war is what you wage when you already are the boss and won’t let any outsider muscle in on your territory.  For the dons in Washington, the territory can be just about everywhere, but its core is occupied Europe.

That description seems apt – not just for the current omerta in place over the Nord Stream but for current US foreign policy in general. So as I was recently looking to glean a little more insight on the US gangster state I dusted off “The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America.” This 2001 book not only tells the story of Las Vegas, but also of how organized crime fused with the state in the decades after World War Two.

Published at the beginning of 2001, there might not be a whole lot new here for readers familiar with the subject matter, but it does provide an overview of how the state and organized crime morphed into one the 1945-2001 period before the madness of the post-9/11 years. And at least from my perspective, being more familiar with the events of the post-9/11 years, this proved a valuable read. It helped explain what set the table for so much of the corporate and state gangsterism  – both domestically and abroad – of the past two decades.

The “Money and the Power” is authored by the husband and wife team of Sally Denton and Roger Morris.

Denton is a Nevada-based investigative journalist. She has a blurb from former Senate majority leader Harry Reid displayed prominently on her website, which is a bit concerning considering the book largely omits Reid despite his long rise in Nevada politics before becoming wealthy enough while in national office to make the Ritz-Carlton his DC residence and the fact he retired shortly after he was attacked by some exercise equipment.

Morris, with a doctorate in government from Harvard, started as a junior foreign service officer in 1966. He quickly rose onto the National Security Council staff under Lyndon Johnson and stayed on under Nixon until resigning after the start of the Cambodian Campaign.

Their argument is as follows:

Headquarters of a trillion-dollar industry commanding unparalleled influence, the end-of-century city is more than ever the wellspring of a corrupt, corrupting political economy, if not the seat of some postmodern Syndicate itself. In an America so widely dominated by corporate and individual wealth, the Strip’s once disreputable Mob ethic of exploitation and greed has become in large measure a national ethic. In a new millennium, radiant Las Vegas stands at the zenith of its power, in many ways an unacknowledged shadow capital…

The city has been the quintessential crossroads and end result of the now furtive, now open collusion of government, business, and criminal commerce that has become – on so much unpalatable but undeniable evidence – a governing force in the American system.”

Denton and Morris’ tale begins with Las Vegas as nothing more than a dusty intersection in the middle of the desert at a time when the state was still for the most part in opposition to runaway vice. In Vegas’ 1930s beginnings it was an organized crime outpost for money laundering and an escape for Hoover Dam construction workers. Local and state politics were largely in the pocket of organized crime, but still most contained to Nevada. While the US always has always had organized crime and corruption, it was for the most part local or regional and not in cahoots with the national state.

With World War Two, that begins to change.

The authors highlight the moment when US Naval Intelligence and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) struck a deal with Meyer Lansky, the man who put the ‘organized’ in organized crime, to suppress leftist unions on New York docks during the war by any means necessary. It was aptly called Operation Underworld.

Now the government had been hiring thugs for a long time, but this collaboration would grow into something more to the point the two sides are one and the same. As Denton and Morris describe it, this was ‘the start of what would be a growing covert alliance with organized crime, beginning during the war and becoming all but institutionalized afterward, a “continuing mode of operation,” as one scholar called it later.’

The war-time measures against leftists did not end with the war. The CIA and FBI entered into an alliance with organized crime against Communists and Leftists:

The collaboration commonly gave the criminals de facto immunity from government prosecution in return for informing or, especially, for aid in suppressing leftists at home and abroad, and in supporting American corporate interests and friendly foreign regimes.

What’s interesting is that these vignettes of Cold War cooperation are often told from the government perspective with the belief that the state is using organized crime as a necessary means to ends. But the flip side of that dynamic is what made Lansky, a driving force behind Las Vegas, so successful:

He did not, like most of his associates, merely bribe politicians or policemen, but worked a more subtle, lasting venality, bringing them in as partners.

“The Money and the Power” spends plenty of time on well-known figures like Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, and Howard Hughes – who was simultaneously the perfect Vegas front man and its biggest mark:

When he died on an airplane flying between Acapulco and Houston in 1976, the once handsome rake and dashing pilot weighed 93 pounds, was covered with bedsores, had a bleeding tumor on his head, hypodermic needles broken off in his arms, and a lethal amount of codeine in his dehydrated body. At the time of his death he was earning $1.7 million a day from U.S. government contracts, mostly from the CIA, the majority of which were awarded without competitive bids, and this was only a fraction of the public money that in effect financed his many-faceted deliverance and patronage of organized crime and his other beneficiaries in Las Vegas.

The book, to its credit, spends equal time on the lesser known spooks at the nexus of crime, business and government who played roles in Vegas and were crucial to the melding of state and organized crime, such as:

  • Edward Pierpont Morgan, “a former FBI agent who had been counsel to Senate committees, corporations, unions, and foreign governments. Though known for his advocacy of civil liberties, Morgan also had intimate, often covert, ties to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”
  • Robert Maheu, another former FBI agent. ‘Since the fifties, Maheu’s private “security” agency had served as a front, or “cut-out operation,” as Maheu called it, for some of the most repugnant covert actions by the CIA and multinational corporations. Maheu’s firm was involved in providing prostitutes for CIA clients and making pornographic films to embarrass the agency’s targets.’
  • George White. the man who helped steer the direction of the Kefauver hearings and made sure it remained in the dark on the burgeoning relationship between the state and organized crime. He joined the OSS during WWII, was a ranking officer in Operation Underworld, took over the FBN Chicago office after the war and recruited several double agents, including Jack Ruby. He was soon in Rome organizing bribes for Italian politicians and planning and carrying out lethal operations. He was an enthusiastic backer of the CIA experimenting with drugs on unwitting participants, going so far as to provide the narcotics, hire prostitutes to lure the subjects, and watch through a two-way mirror. ‘“Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage,” White later wrote to a writer’s question, “with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?”’

And so the state – whether through corruption or common interests – increasingly becomes indistinguishable from organized crime. They use similar tactics, pass through a revolving door, and exchange favors.

Was one of those favors helping to bring organized crime finances in from the cold?

Organized Crime Goes Mainstream

Despite assisting with dirty tasks for the government, organized crime and its outfits in Las Vegas were still facing barriers to legitimate financing. That changed after WWII.

According to Denton and Morris, the first bank to get in on the lucrative action in Las Vegas was Valley National Bank of Phoenix. It was ‘the principal bank of the mercantile and land development oligarchy of what came to be called “the Phoenix Forty,” including construction magnate Del Webb and especially the politically prominent Goldwater family…”

The bank loaned money to the Flamingo in 1946-47 – “the first significant capitalizing of the Syndicate by prominent American banks.”

Also participating in that loan was Walter Cosgriff’s Salt Lake City-based Continental bank. Cosgriff became the yeoman behind “character loans,” a kind of 1950s-60s ESG-esque smokescreen used to sell lending to Las Vegas casinos and their backers. In the 50s there were only a handful of banks in Nevada and entry was tightly guarded. Walter Cosgriff had a connection, however, and saw the potential:

A new financial institution in booming Las Vegas could do on the spot what no other local bank had ever been bold enough to do: loan to the fastest-growing, most profitable industry in the West. It could discreetly funnel and screen money from other banks, companies, or interests that either had to or wanted to conceal their investments in Las Vegas, people who wanted the profit but not the publicity for financing the city and all it represented.

The Bank of Las Vegas opened in 1954 and a young Continental officer was surprisingly put in charge. The 34-year-old Edward Parry Thomas spent WWII in a mountain unit of ski paratroopers and spent time in intelligence interrogating “important” German prisoners. After the war he got a B.A. in banking and finance and immediately went to work for Continental bank in 1948. Six years later he was the point man for all the investors that wanted to capitalize on organized crime’s growth potential:

…it was a revolutionary moment. Though local banks gladly took the growing deposits from gambling just as from Boulder Dam, the magnesium plant, or any other boon, there had been no question of legitimate lending or finance for the city’s unsavory industry.

Just from a business standpoint, lending to organized crime seemed a risky venture. There was the absence of bankable collateral, it was impossible to know the true state of their books, and there was the possibility they might just refuse to pay and resort to violence. The Bank of Las Vegas pushed ahead, nonetheless:

 …Cosgriff, Thomas, and the forces behind them swept into the city with a radical new rationalization, treating gambling like any other western boom enterprise entitled to the expansive finance…

If there was a hidden force behind prominent finance extending its helping hand to organized crime, it remains unclear who exactly that was:

For years to come, in fact, several of the city’s insiders assumed there was some extraordinary unseen authority behind the Bank of Las Vegas, something not even the most notorious criminal gamblers would flout, ultimately ensuring repayment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

From there the floodgates opened. Major investments came from the Mormon church, the Teamsters, clandestine US intelligence fronts, and elsewhere. The results:

Legitimate money building up the Strip now enabled casino owners to fatten profits, including the constant skim and its state tax evasion. But they could also now reinvest more of that take, along with a greater share of the money from nationwide narcotics, prostitution, and other other exploitation, back into still more drug trafficking and corruption, as well as penetration of energy and food resources, entertainment, medical care, insurance, real estate, and full circle back to Las Vegas itself.

The authors spend a considerable amount of the mid-section on the Kennedys and their relations to organized crime. Suffice to say, JFK’s election marked organized crime’s arrival to the table of the nation’s ruling elite – at least that’s the way they viewed it even if JFK and RFK didn’t see it the same way.

Details begin to thin out afterwards with the authors jumping between various tales of shady figures in political campaigns, government, and business and connecting them back to Las Vegas and organized crime.

At the same time, the authors’ at times are confined by Las Vegas and Nevada, which might cause them to miss out on potentially interesting vignettes abroad. They only mention organized crime and the state’s cooperation abroad in passing. It would, for example, be interesting to map out the rise in foreign policy gangster tactics (assassinations, coups, etc.) to the state’s burgeoning relationship with organized crime. The same could be applied to Wall Street and the nation’s other economic institutions and sectors.

The authors are content to briefly examine the boost provided by Michael Milken, the Wall Street junk bond legend, who helped replace the largesse of the Teamsters raided pension fund. More exploration would be appreciated, but the conclusion seems sound:

‘As the founders of the city always understood, parties and personalities were minor compared to the stakes now shared among an ever-expanding group of profiteers. Corporate veils and Wall Street brokering had made thousands of stock-owning individuals and institutions, from the Harvard University endowment to the California State Employees Pension Fund, the successors to Costello, Luciano, Siegel, Giancana, and the others as capital funders of the gambling empire. … it was a form of the grand alliance of upperworld and underworld…’

And the damage wrought by that alliance would be immense.

“New American Hometown”

Long before Citizens United legalized political corruption, Denton and Morris detail how organized crime had a strong relationship with every president from JFK to Clinton. Reagan, in particular, became what they thought they had in JFK.

The washed up movie actor who had bombed during a two-week stand in Las Vegas a quarter century before becoming president helped usher in a new era for organized crime. Reagan, presiding over one of, if not the largest transfer of wealth in the nation’s history, was also a boon for organized crime.

‘Whatever the hoary compromises of the Washington regime, the face of the Syndicate was changing in the eighties as so much else in the country. By the natural attrition of aging feudal barons, by the periodic prosecution of crime lords in New York and elsewhere, the previously recognizable mob was fading. A new, educated, more refined, carefully groomed, and legalized postmodern Syndicate was already emerging. Financed and reinforced by the political economy created by the Reagan revolution, Las Vegas was no longer to be its outpost colony or clearinghouse, but its sparking capital.’

And as Reagan-era economic dogma still reigns, the long-present ills of organized crime’s capital has spread to every corner of the country.

Even at the end of the 1950s, ‘Nevada now had the highest crime and suicide rates in the nation, with Las Vegas employing three times as many police as any other city its size, and dealing with record-breaking crime rates in bad checks and burglary, as well as liquor consumption more than 200 percent above the national average.’

…‘“To be a vagrant in Las Vegas,” one visitor noted of a town crowded with homeless decades before they were even recognized as a national social problem, “is to invite a jail sentence.”’

Unaware of the foreboding, in 1994 Time declared that Las Vegas was an “all-American city” and representative of the “new American hometown.” In retrospect, Time was right, albeit not in the way it intended.

Social issues that had unsurprisingly plagued a city built by organized crime became national problems: crime and attempts to make economic problems disappear with more police, low wages, lack of healthcare, homelessness, and deaths of despair. Organized crime and the casinos were also always at the vanguard of attacks on organized labor – resorting to violence when corruption was off the table.

Nowadays, labor has been so thoroughly weakened that in many cases it (and daily life in general) more closely resembles a trip to the casino where the house always wins. As Hamilton Nolan writes about Uber:

Interviews with drivers reveal that the sheer unpredictability of this wage system transforms work into something more akin to gambling. Like slot machine players always wondering if the next spin will be the lucky one, workers are put in a position of being incentivized to constantly stay available, in the event that the fluctuating wage level happens to rise at any given moment.

National politics, too, mirror the longstanding practice in Vegas: “the regime runs nicely, politics confined to minor differences of personality or method on the margins of power.”

As Denton and Morris write about the gambling industry, which is true of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex, “Now it’s an open orgy of power. If politicians don’t give back what they want, they run them out.”

Maybe the following passage, which describes organized crime fear in Vegas’ early days that a crackdown would come, best shows how the attitude in Vegas became today’s national business creed and political standard:

“It was always part of their greed,” a lawyer for the casinos thought afterward. “They were grabbing everything they could get their hands on because there was still the fear, justified or not, that it could end any time, that it was all too good to be true.”

A 2001 New York Times review of “The Money and the Power” focuses almost exclusively on the more lurid aspects of Sin City and admonishes Denton and Morris for looking down their noses at how “ordinary people come [to Las Vegas] to feel, for a weekend, like big shots.” It also ignores the book’s argument that state and organized crime had become indistinguishable from one another, noting mockingly that “for Denton and Morris, even to wear tailored clothes indicates crooked venality.”

I would take the opposite view: Denton and Morris should have focused less on the more sensational aspects of Las Vegas and more on the state-organized crime fusion and its tentacles into every corner of the economy and foreign policy (maybe readers have recommendations on books that deal more completely with the latter?)

Nonetheless, if you need a refresher or a first-time peek, the book provides a summary of the interwovenness of the state and organized crime throughout the second half of the 20th century. No doubt an updated version nearly a quarter-century after the original was published would have plenty more evidence to work with.

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  1. ambrit

    I remember the Miami Heart Institute building, a multi story working hospital situated all alone in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the middle of Miami Beach. It was built, or repurposed, the stories disagree, as an apartment spot for Meyer Lansky. The entire top floor was Lansky’s “apartment” slash, hospital room. lansky dodged extradition to foreign climes by having tame medicos declare that his heart was too weak for him to take the trip out of America. So, he stayed in America on a medical exemption. Appropriately enough, the sprawling complex, on a canal no less, is now primarily the Ritz Carlton Residences.
    Miami Beach was a “retirement spot” for mafiosi. My dad knew one. Dad cautioned me to stay away from that crowd. The children of these modern day literal Robber Barons had all of the character flaws of rich kids everywhere, just with an extra dollop of “exceptionalism” thrown in. Dad’s criminal acquaintance later died in hospital under very ‘mysterious’ circumstances. (Losers in the lifelong game of “Top Dog” do not go home with ‘parting gifts.” They end up six feet underground.)
    Here, if I may say it, is the perfect Neo-liberal ethos. “Crime is the Health of the Nation.”
    Stay safe, keep that head on a swivel.

    1. Eric F

      Interestingly, the Las Vegas project seems to have been mostly run by the Jewish mafia(s), at least at the beginning.
      My ex-wife’s late father was on the far fringe of that crowd in the 1950-70s.
      I can’t help thinking about Sheldon Adelson & AIPAC.
      Maybe Israel is part of the money laundering aparatus?

    1. ambrit

      Oh H— no, it is not.
      The “real” message of the Christmas Season is revolution. The original “Carpenter Rabbi” was a trouble maker and a radical reformer. He paid the ultimate price. Therein lies a serious message; be not afraid.

  2. ciroc

    The difference between organized crime and the state is like the difference between gambling and finance capitalism.

    1. ambrit

      The old joke goes that the State always fights organized crime because it hates competition. These ‘modern’ versions of both institutions have decided on a friendly merger. Now, who is coopting whom? (And does it make a difference?)

  3. Wukchumni

    I’m allergic to Pavlovegas, although i’d suppose the people watching would be utterly sublime, that is if you were into watching people bet too much when they’re losing, and not enough when they’re winning.

    My wife is from Buffalo and had a few mobsters in her family milieu, but growing up in LA, I can’t remember anything that was controlled by the mob, must have been something though, eh?

  4. Jade bones

    Whitney Webb’s two volume “One Nation Under Blackmail” published in 2022 references this book and might be more extensive, and in response to ‘chuck roast’ above is heavily footnoted and documented. Webb has encouraged readers doing their own follow up research.
    The second volume was added to expand on the Epstein epic which despite the media focus on adolescent victims, was primarily a story of power, money and the continuation of the ‘blackmail as a modus operandi’ of the Criminal World cum deep state.

  5. Camelotkidd

    Money quote–“I would take the opposite view: Denton and Morris should have focused less on the more sensational aspects of Las Vegas and more on the state-organized crime fusion and its tentacles into every corner of the economy and foreign policy (maybe readers have recommendations on books that deal more completely with the latter?)”
    Whitney Webb’s One Nation Under Blackmail Volume 1 details the merging organized crime, corporate America and the alphabet agencies
    Merry Christmas to all at NC that help us discern what’s happening behind the curtain

    1. Adam Eran

      I’ve always thought the Godfather series was an accurate paradigm for American business practice.

      One relevant example: Fred Koch invented and patented the processes for producing useful products from crude oil. He discovered Rockefeller’s refineries were using those processes without paying patent royalties…and sued. He lost the suit…only to find out a few years later that Rockefellers had bribed the judge. He was vindicated on retrial, but one really can’t blame him for being anti-government (and passing that sentiment along to Charles and David).

      The Gresham’s law in this context says crime generates more crime.

  6. BillS

    Wow! Thanks for this. Sounds a bit like the inspiration for James Ellroy’s American Underworld Trilogy.

    Being here in Italy, there is much agreement that the state and organized crime have been long intertwined, where the various mafias form a type of shadow government. This arrangement grew in importance in the post world war ii years as a means to suppress the PCI (the communists). Today, there is less fear of leftist takeover, but in some areas the line between legitimate business and organized crime is so thin, it becomes almost impossible to separate the two.

  7. vegasmike

    I retired from New York City to be close to family. Both my son and son-in-law work at the Convention Center. They are both members of the Teamster’s Union. The hourly wage is close to 40 dollars. Overtime pay kicks in on a daily basis. If you work eight hours, the ninth hour is paid at a time and half rate. Workers can make 70 thousand or more. The Culinary Union is also quite effective. Hispanic people here live much better than on the East Coast. The city has relatively small PMC class, which makes the place feel less snobby. On the other hand, there’s almost no high culture, which I miss being a native born New Yorker.

  8. B24S

    At one point in my misspent youth in NYC, my brothers’ “godfather”, “Vinnie D”, took my brother and I aside, and made us promise to never, ever, accept a favor from “certain individuals”, as once you accept that favor, you owe them forever.

    I kept that promise, and remain in relatively good health, if not wealth.

    The last time I was in Vegas was over 40 years ago, and as I was knocking on the door of the residence I’d sent $ to for car parts, the gentleman in question was climbing out the back window.

    You can keep your Vegas…

  9. Betty

    No one mentioned (yet) the federal hearings on the mob and union pensions. Why did that emerge as an issue? What was that about? I’ve always wondered. Any thoughts, references?

  10. JBird4049

    Our government working with thugs to suppress the commies and keep the docks unhindered during World War Two; I keep thinking about how too many people think that the ends justifies the means, and of Jeremey Bentham’s Utilitarian philosophy, which posits that doing what brings the greatest good pleasure for the greatest number of people is always the right choice. A suggestion to read Those Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin might be a thoughtful response. There are always, always reasons, often very good ones, for that ostensible one-time exception, isn’t there?

    In my ethics course, it was pointed out that under utilitarianism, the suggestion to sell grandma into sexual slavery as she is old, would bring pleasure to many people, and we need the money would be a good argument. One can legitimately make such vile arguments, but they are the result of lazy thinking, much like with doctrinaire Neoliberalism, as well as the various forms of capitalism – Industrial, Financial, and Free Market, or Communism, or the modern American Security State. All this leading to our extremely corrupt, over-policed, underserved nation.

    I think these thoughts are somewhat muddled, but I hope they are understandable.

  11. Chris Cosmos

    I’ve known about much of this for a long time–not so much the Vegas angle but the emerging organized crime domination of all major social institutions. Not that they are “controlled” by Italians or Jews or any other ethnic group but a diverse bunch of power players who are willing to do anything they have to do to get ahead. The country is systemically corrupt. The people in the institutions whether entertainment, government, medicine, education, and so on are mainly not corrupt they just go along to get along. The few predators who end up on the top of any organization insure that the system stays in place and the result is a certain crooked kind of stability.

    Misha Glenny’s book McMafia published in 2009 goes into the international aspect of criminality he said that it makes up about 15% of world GDP. I believe today it’s more like 25% if you include corruption in government. You can start with the “Defence” Department. From what I know (and I have some experience in procurement and the consulting rackets) about 50% or even more I suspect of the budget for the Pentagon is fraudulent. You can see this in the fact that the US which spends over ten times what Russia spends on war can’t even supply a fraction of what Russia produces for its military. Also notice that there are no more stories about Pentagon corruption–those stories disappeared after Obama was elected POTUS.

    We can’t ever come close to government or social reform until we address not “mistakes” (are they really?) in policies but the truth of the systemic corruption that is at the heart of our true malaise and decline.

    1. AG

      “Also notice that there are no more stories about Pentagon corruption–those stories disappeared after Obama was elected POTUS.”

      Highly fascinating but I lack the real knowledge on this inside wisdom.
      Could you explain that a bit (in how far DID Obama change anything and is the disappearance only a feeling or a measurable sum) or recommend something?
      I have noted down the various book titles mentioned here already

  12. Carolinian

    This is great stuff. Thanks Conor. What was that line in Godfather 2? ‘In five years the Corleone family will be completely legitimate.’ The theme of that movie was of course exactly the theme of the book being reviewed above.

  13. JBird4049

    >>>We can’t ever come close to government or social reform until we address not “mistakes” (are they really?) in policies but the truth of the systemic corruption that is at the heart of our true malaise and decline.

    I am thinking that the American Police/Security State mission has had what bit of it was actually defending both the people and state and replaced with protecting the elites from any consequences for their corruption and abuses of power. All those wars, not to mention the entire carceral state, which is the largest on Earth, and nobody except the innocent or the just suffer.

  14. Vicky Cookies

    Hannah Arendt, in the section on imperialism in Origins of Totalitarianism: “…the mob is not only the refuse but the byproduct of bourgeois society, directly produced by it and therefore never quite seperable from it.” She notes “…high society’s constantly growing admiration for the underworld, which runs like a red thread through the nineteenth century, it’s continuous step-by-step retreat on all questions of morality, and it’s growing taste for the anarchic cynicism of its offspring.”

    That the American mob and intelligence agencies could collaborate on a political project shows that the two groups recognized themselves in one another. Of course mafiosi are anti-communist; gangsters are as honest of adherents to free-market thinking as they come, complete with exceptions when it doesn’t go your way, and a recourse to violence. The mob in Boston was used to beat up striking workers, including my communist father.

    One area of overlap between today’s Alphabet Boys and organized crime in foreign affairs: the drugs trade. It is as unlikely that a significant and persistent traffic in banned substances alien to this climate could exist without 3-letter sanction as it is that such people would care what its effect is. See Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin, any book on Michael Hand, or the Iran-Contra affair.

  15. The Rev Kev

    In WW2 the mafia provided lots of ‘help’ and thus accruing favours from the Federal government. Before the invasion of Sicily, the Allies needed as much intel as they could on that island. So the mafia sent out the word and all these Sicilian-Americans started to turn up with their photo albums and giving information on the areas that they lived in before emigrating. Another ‘service’ was where mafia hit-men in prison were used to train specialized army recruits on the fine arts of killing people and I think that those guys wore masks so that they could not be identified and came out on day release.

  16. Bryan

    It’s long been known that professional sports in the US was, among other things, an effort by rich underworld and underworld-adjacent figures to create vehicles for laundering, graft and, ultimately, entry to respectable society. Dan Moldea’s somewhat simplistic but still useful analysis of how organized crime influenced the NFL includes information about how football owners came to employ law enforcement in the growth of their enterprise. This essay details one important episode:

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