tv American History TV CSPAN June 5, 2016 7:38pm-8:01pm EDT
[applause] announcer: you're watching american history tv. all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. our communications partners work with c-span city tours staff when we travel to las vegas, nevada to explore its history. state legalized gambling in 1931. learn more about las vegas all weekend here on american history tv. [explosions] professor green: a lot of people have this image of las vegas that we always blow up buildings.
and we have blown up a lot of hotels, casinos on the strip and build new ones. the mayor at the time had been an attorney who represented a lot of figures connected to or allegedly connected to the mob. he said, no, this is where i first practiced law at my first case. it's an important building historically. let's save it. it was a three-story building built in 1933. today, it houses one of the nations leading museums --certainly in our opinion -- of organized crime and law enforcement. the role that they played throughout united states history, but especially the 20th and early 21st centuries and in the development of las vegas. whether las vegas likes it or the rest of the world likes it, the mob played an important role in our development. where we are now is the centerpiece of our museum.
this is the courtroom on the second floor of the building and really the historical motivation, if you will, for having this museum. senator estes kefauver and other senators conducted hearings on organized crime in america. they went to 14 cities and the smallest city by far that they came to was las vegas. they spent an afternoon here and in this room -- up there in fact, they questioned various local casino operators and executives. so wilbur clark, he testified, bill moore who was on the nevada
tax commission and kefauver was aghast at the notion that you could have people who were involved in organized crime elsewhere could possibly come here and be legitimate businessman. nevada liquidity in the negative. speaks eloquently in the negative. well, the problem with this was in fact, it was legal here, whereas in other cities, you were shut down and the kefauver hearings are important in american history. he had been elected to the senate by attacking one of the most corrupt political machines in the country in memphis and he had great ambitions. he wanted to be vice president or president and going after organized climate going after democratic operatives. organized crime was big in the cities. so was the democratic party. example,icago at the
people were the daily machine were working with these people -- not necessarily with any particular vice in mind, other than getting ahead politically. that is what kefauver wanted to do. it does end up making him a household name. he ends up being the democratic vice president presidential nominee in 1956. what is interesting is around the country, people around the country react to the kefauver hearings and they say, my god, this is terrible. we've got to get rid of organized crime. where are they going to go to operate casinos legally? las vegas. in the 1950's, las vegas became the beneficiary of the hearings because of the numbers of people who came here to work in or operate casinos. these hearings are incredibly popular because it is the first big daytime tv show. in prime time at the time you have milton berle and jackie gleason starting out, and you have various shows. daytime, not so much.
so these hearings are being watched and cities around the country. interestingly enough, not in las vegas because las vegas does not get a tv station until 1953. seeing these people on tv, these mobsters, gangsters, accused killers, reduced a lot of the perception of them as robin hoods, people who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, they were not such bad people. and hollywood had created an image, if you will, of mobsters that maybe they were not so bad or some of them who were really bad, at least they got put away, you did not deal with them. this changes perceptions of organized crime in america. and so, it is a popular show. it is a riveting show. and it is also a transformative show. the hearings were a success and a failure. they were a failure in the sense that organized crime survives and illegal activities go on in
the cities and areas where they are being driven out. where it does serve the intended purpose, kefauver is a moral reformer. he wants change. and there is change that results. you can trace the trajectory from kefauver into the 1960's with bobby kennedy going after or has crime in his brother's administration and the 1970's to the rico acts. in that way it is a success. kefauver hoped that these hearings would make him a national figure and they did. did they take him as far as he wanted to go? no. but they certainly made him more powerful. and partly i think there was satisfaction among democratic politicians who were connected to these guys in one way or another. it also made kefauver more hated.
the second-floor talks about las vegas and the development of organized crime both locally and internationally and nationally and the940's, 1950's 1960's. in 1931, the state of nevada legalized gambling and in the 1940's legalized off-track betting. here are things that organized crime has been doing illegally. here was possible for them to come and run legal casinos. and at the time las vegas was a new enough community -- the auction and the to the creation of the town of las vegas was in 1905 -- there is not an establishment here where they would have to break in. other cities, like reno, for example, being 40 years older than las vegas, was a more established community. the land was cheap and plentiful and what was important -- it was accessible to southern california, where not only did organized crime have some
interest, but the l.a. area was always booming. there were people who wanted to drive to las vegas and here was all of this money waiting for them to make it. when we talk about las vegas as wide-open, it actually can mean a couple of things. one is it was wide open to the mob, to illegal gamblers, to come in here. now that suggests that organized crime itself was not that organized. when in fact yeah, there were guys in charge helping to broker disputes. but if you go down the strip, you would find people coming in from new york, miami, houston, cleveland, cities throughout the united states. in that sense, it was wide open for people to come in. the other thing is that because of the city they developed, because of the entertainment, the gambling, because of the image of las vegas, it struck
people as this wide-open, wild place. one writer, mark cooper, said you come to las vegas to certify you are an adult. what are you doing to certify you are an adult? you are doing things that suggest you are wide open. the case i'm in front of take you through the development of organized crime and gambling in las vegas from the 1940's to the 1970's. down below we have a briefcase moe, who had to driven liquor trucks for bugsy siegel during the prohibition era and was involved in casinos out here. and everything from one of the uniform jackets from the desert inn, that organized crime interests from cleveland operated, to the placemat from the moulin rouge, which was the first integrated hotel and casino in las vegas. las vegas was a segregated community. and if you were african-american, you could not
stay in or patronize a strip or downtown hotel or casino. entertainers usually had to stay in west las vegas and the moulin rouge, which itself had mob connections, was an attempt to integrate the industry and the community. the casino closed but it helped set standards that contributed to the civil rights movement that would lead to changes in las vegas and around the country. below that are photos and magazines featuring frank "lefty" rosenthal. if you have seen the movie "casino," robert de niro is playing a character supposedly based on him. and he ran the stardust and a couple other casinos on the strip and could never get a gaming license because of his background. the corner here is mostly about at theduction show tropicana hotel for nearly half
a century. this is one of the outfits that one of the showgirls would have worn and the headdresses can weigh up to 30 pounds, so you really have to be athletic to do this. augusto was helping them. here in this case, a lot about history was covered. what we have here, in addition to this list of occluded -- excluded persons, which became known as the black book, because believe it or not, it has always been in a black book. originally it was a three-ring binder. in 1960, the state regulatory board created it because they wanted to get a list of people they saw as just too bad to be in casinos. the original list was 12 -- all italian mobsters, which led to charges, with some justification, that there may have been a little discrimination here.
one of the 12 was still alive as of 2016. the guy in the mugshots next the book was anthony who came from chicago, accused of a lot of murders. he was the mob's enforcer on the streets of las vegas in the 1970's and 1980's. in the movie "casino," joe pesci plays a character based on him and if you have seen the movie, he meets a violent end and that is how he died. and among other things, he made sure the money got back to chicago in the midwestern cities that controlled the strip during the 1970's and 1980's. it he also had a burglary ring on the street that became known as the hole in the wall gang because they literally blew a hole in the wall of the building they were breaking into. and a right above it, an example of the kinds of donations we get at the museum. an fbi agent named mark casper arrested him in 1983 in las vegas. these are the handcuffs.
and in case anybody got a little too interested, the key is there, too, just in case. well, this is not the greatest exhibit in the museum, but it talkst of something that a little bit about what the museum does today. when he was chairman of the nevada gaming condition -- commission. we have on our website and interview i got to do with harry reid, where he talks about his days with the gaming commission. it was quite a period for him. he had been through a couple of electoral defeats. he goes on the gaming commission and he keeps his name in the news. what he did not suspect was this is when the fbi was really going through organized crime families, state officials are clamping down. so he ends up adding the closure of casinos, dealing with a lot of public controversy.
including a guy pictured right frank "lefty" rosenthal. he had this confrontation over frank "lefty" rosenthal for a license. i think you call this great cinema, bad history. but in the course of this, ried had to call the police because something was attached to his car that ended up being something that would blow up his car. he dealt with a few things in his past that might be a little bit rougher than moving stuff on the senate floor. we are on the first floor of the once we getnd through the second floor, the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, national, international connections, we get to how the mob was brought down and what law enforcement was doing and then ways organized crime spreads beyond where we think it might be. so, for example, right here, thanks to the federal government and the fbi agent in charge here, we were able to get access to wiretaps.
what makes these wiretaps possible, what changed was in 1970, congress passed rico, and rico is a great acronym if you think of "little caesar" and edward g. robinson and all of the old gangster movies. and it enables them to go after the mob in less traditional ways. if you think of al capone, the guy who got capone was not j. edgar hoover or a prosecutor. it was the man who ran the irs. they got him on tax evasion. now what they will be able to do is bug, wiretap, use evidence against someone, but not necessarily be person who gave the order to hit somebody or do the skimming. it makes it easier for the federal government to get the evidence it needs against these
gangsters. now, this wall has a couple different wiretaps people can listen to and over here is a conversation between alan dorfman and joe lombardo. joe lombardo was connected to the teamsters, so was dorfman. dorfman was in charge of the teamster's pension fund. he had mob connections through his family, which was close to al capone. here they are talking about loans the teamsters made. where the teamsters were incredibly important, with very few exceptions, banks would not lend money to casino operators. the theory being, oh, they are gangsters, are they going to pay it back, are they going to pay it back at the rate we want, should a bank invest with a casino? and there were banks that realized the benefit of lending money. but the teamsters did this and in turn, were able to get
skimming operations going. it was dorfman who called to help out a friend of his who ends up coming to las vegas to oversee the skim. to teamsters lend the money alan glick who becomes the front man running a couple of casinos in las vegas, who worked with the chicago mob. where this is also important -- the teamsters and the midwestern families had pretty well replaced new york and miami operators were tied to meyer lansky. they are really the dominant mob presence in las vegas in the 1970's and 1980's. when the federal government through the rico act, when state officials bring down organized crime, it's really these people who they get. the organized crime task force, they end up prosecuting the
midwestern crime family leaders and dorfman, and dorfman is eventually gunned down because there is a fear he might testify and he knew too much. indeed alan dorfman was literally the man who knew too much. now, in this set of wiretaps, there is a -- i would call it a threat to the attorney for jimmy hoffa and various teamsters leaders. the heading was how he could live to his next birthday. he had a loan to operate the dunes. he was having a little trouble. representatives of the teamsters were reminding him he needed to pay. well, we all think of organized crime as violent, and we should, it was very violent. a lot of people depicted in this and.m were in the business -- end.
they were skimming money or they were just operating casinos where the profits go to some organized crime people, some who are not connected, and the casinos here are going to find all kinds of things going on nationally and internationally from the drug trade to various violent crimes or burglary rings. when somebody leaves this museum, i hope they realize that history itself can be fascinating. not everybody thinks that, unfortunately. and that the history of organized crime and law enforcement is intertwined. there are bad guys on both sides. the good guys are on the law enforcement side. organized crime provided a lot of economic benefit to places like las vegas. people thinking that this is a tribute to the mob are going to have their perceptions changed. that is what i hope they leave with. announcer: our cities tour staff recently traveled to las vegas,
nevada to learn about its rich history. learn about las vegas and other stops on our tour at www.c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: monday on "the communicators," the privacy act requires the government to get a board to search e-mail less than 100 and 80 days old. congress now wants to expand protection to those forms of personal data and the house passed the e-mail privacy act in april and the senate is now considering legislation to. the commonwealth's in out senator, virginia has a different perspective on the legislation. they are joined by a technology reporter. >> unfortunately, a law that
access when police can digital content has not been updated since 1986. an interim there have been courts that said please need to get a warm before they can get things like e-mail or facebook messages. what this would do with that protection into the law. >> that is really what our main concern is, to make sure electronic communications are provided with the same level of protection, not a natural level of protection, beyond what you would expect in your home or bank account. announcer: watch "the communicators" monday night on c-span2. >> madam secretary. give 72bly -- pproudly of our delegate votes to the next president of the united states. ♪
announcer: next, we had to colonial williamsburg to learn about george washington's life after retiring from the presidency. explores hisez conflicting desires to retire and to continue to be an active player in politics. no washingtont he was retired, he continued to meet with political figures from the district of columbia and often was called on the craft policy. the colonial williamsburg foundation hosted this event.