Even though the rightful name of the new museum in Las Vegas, is The Law Enforcement and Organized Crime Museum, but I do believe that when it opens in the old post office down town it will simple be called “The Mob Museum.
The museum when it opens in a few months will pay honor to founding fathers and most influential figures-guys with names like Bugsy, Lefty and Lansky.
The mob museum will stand as frank acknowledgment of the major role mobsters played in developing Las Vegas into the gambling capital of America and giving the city its rakish glamour during the 1940s and ’50s.
“Let’s be brutally honest, warts and all. This is more than legend. Its fact,” said Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former defense attorney whose clients once included mobsters Meyer Lansky and Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. “This is something that differentiates us from other cities
The project has gained the support of the FBI and is guided by a retired FBI agent. They say they are involved because you can’t tell the stories of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, his banker, Lansky, casino boss Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and others without telling the story of the lawmen that pursued them.
Ellen Knowlton, who retired in 2006 as FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas and now heads the not-for-profit museum organization. The FBI has offered to share photographs, transcripts of wiretaps and histories of efforts to kneecap organized crime in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Officials expect to open the museum by 2010 in a brick federal building that was the centerpiece of this dusty town of 5,100 residents when it opened in 1933. In 1950, the three-story building hosted a hearing by Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver’s special investigating committee on the rackets.
Goodman, who showed his own willingness to play up Las Vegas’ mob past by making a cameo in the 1995 Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci movie “Casino,” has pushed the idea of a mob museum from the time he was elected mayor in 1999.
He brokered a deal for the city to buy the building in 2000 for $1, with the understanding it would be turned into cultural center. Officials expect the final cost, including renovations, to reach almost $50 million.
It was Siegel who pioneered the transformation of this one-time desert stopover into a glittering tourist mecca, opening the $6 million Flamingo hotel on the fledgling Las Vegas Strip in 1946 with financial backing from Lansky. Ok the real truth here is that he stole the building from the owner, after he met an untimely death.
Siegel was murdered six months later in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the home of his girl friend, perhaps because he annoyed the mob with funding on the hotel.
Stories about Moe Dalitz, a Cleveland businessman who rescued the Desert Inn and Stardust casinos in the 1950s and ’60s and built a Sun Rise hospital, and few local golf courses was also linked to the mob.
Organized crime eventually was driven out of Las Vegas in the 1970s and ’80s by the FBI, local police and prosecutors, state crackdowns and casino purchases by corporate interests.
Organizers say paying visitors might be asked to decide as they arrive which side of the law they want to be on, and then be given a story line tracing the life of a famous lawman or mobster or a street cop or numbers runner.
“Were you a hit man? Were you a prosecutor? What choices do you have to make?” Green said. “We’re telling a story of things that are multisided.”
Organizers also hope to have an oral-history area where visitors “can sit down in front of a camera and say, `I knew Bugsy,’ or `I saw Meyer,’ or whatever,” he said.
Organizers have also hinted that the St Valentine’s Day wall will make its way from Chicago to Las Vegas Mob museum.
Mayor Oscar Goodman remaindered everyone that the mob is a part of all of our past, that the museum will honor that past.