Air Date: October 25, 2013
Frank Cullotta. Former Chicago Enforcer Former Las Vegas Mobster
Frank was born on December 14, 1938 in Chicago. He began his criminal career as a teenager. Graduating from petty theft to burglary, armed robbery, arson and of course, murder. While growing up he met another tough young kid like him on the mean streets. His name was Tony Spilotro. They became friends. Stealing and committing other crimes together. Tony went on to become a made man and feared enforcer of the Chicago Outfit. In 1971, while Frank was in prison, the Outfit bosses sent Tony to Las Vegas to keep an eye on their casino interests.
After Frank got out on parole Tony invited him to join him in Sin City. Frank Cullotta functioned as Tony’s lieutenant, watched his back and formed and ran a crew of burglars, robbers, arsonists, and killers that became known as the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Tony and Frank had a serious falling out in 1982; and at Tony’s request the Chicago bosses approved a contract to have Frank killed. Frank Cullotta was facing either life in prison as a repeat felon or certain death at the hands of Outfit hit men. Frank did the unthinkable, He rolled and became a government witness.
Frank Cullotta entered the federal witness protection program in early 1982 and admitted to the FBI that he had arranged the murders of James Miraglia and Billy McCarthy, known as the “M&M Murders”, on behalf of Tony Spilotro. Frank Cullotta also admitted to the 1979 murder of Sherwin Lisner, and provided them with information regarding other burglaries.
Frank’s subsequent testimony resulted in the convictions of several of his former associates. Frank was preparing to testify against Tony Spilotro in June 1986, when Tony was murdered by the Outfit just prior to the trial getting underway.
In 1995 Frank was contacted by screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi regarding the Martin Scorsese film Casino. Frank was hired as one of several technical consultants to the movie in which actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro; and Frank Vincent played “Frankie,” a character based on Frank Cullotta. In the film Frank appeared in several scenes as a killer, including one that was a fictionalized version of a murder he actually committed in Las Vegas in 1979. Pileggi said it was the first time he knew of where a real-life killer recreated a murder on the screen.
In 2007 Frank and true-crime writer Denny Griffin co-authored Frank’s biography, Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness (True Crime)￼
Jack Marino & Frank Cullotta in Hollywood