Saturday, February 07, 2004

Hillary's Right Wing Conspiracy: The Death of Steve Kangas 

Former Mississippi state trooper Rex Armistead was gathering background information on Steve Kangas, when the former Army intelligence officer inexplicably shot himself in the head outside the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife in March 1999, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Prior to his untimely death, Kangas had published information on the Internet that detailed Scaife's efforts to defame then-President Bill Clinton. Armistead, a private investigator, had dug up dirt on the Clintons for American Spectator magazine and also worked as an investigator for Whitewater assistant special prosecutor Hickman Ewing.

Jim Ed's Resume 

James E. Reeves
Ward & Reeves
711 Ward Avenue, P.O. Box 169
Caruthersville, Missouri 63830
(Pemiscot Co.)
Telephone: 573-333-2396
Facsimile: 573-333-5462

Practice Areas: General Practice; Corporate Law; Personal Injury; Probate; Banking Law; Real Property; Condemnation; Drainage and Levee; Trial Practice; Appellate Practice

Admitted: 1951, Missouri; 1954, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri;
1955, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Law School: University of Missouri, LL.B., 1951

College: University of Missouri, A.B., 1948

Member: The Missouri Bar; American Bar Association

Biography: Order of the Coif; Phi Delta Phi. Recipient: Missouri Bar Foundation Trial Lawyer Award, 1962; Missouri Bar Foundation Spurgeon Smithson Award, 1980. Chairman, Board of Student Editors, Missouri Law Review, 1950-1951. Counselor, City of Caruthersville, 1954-1955; 1956-1970. Interim U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri, 1969, 1973. Associate, Office of Independent Counsel, Whitewater, 1994. Fellow: American College of Trial Lawyers; America n College of Trust and Estate Counsel; American Bar Foundation.

Born: Memphis, Tennessee, June 6, 1927

Will Malnik Own Neverland Someday? 

Loan shark Alvin Malnik and a partnership of investors is reported to have paid $70 million last December to Bank of America to keep Michael Jackson afloat.The pop star owes the bank hundreds of millions. The next payment is due in December 2004. At stake is the Beatles songbook, which Jackson acquired sometime in the 80s. If Jacko can't make the nut, he will have to ransom Miss Elenor Rigby and Sgt. Pepper to Sony, according to legally-binding rules set up at the time that he acquired the music. One sure bet, Malnik and company didn't bail Jackson out out of the goodness of their hearts. I wonder how many people gave up their cars or paid 300 percent interest on loans to Malnik's loan-sharking company to pay off Jacko's last debt installment?

Today's entry from the St. Louis Edition of the Devil's Dictionary 

judge a politician in a robe.

Today's Word Puzzle 

courtesy of Danny Casolaro's notes


Out of Control
Kings of Cocaine

Barry Seale
recruited by
flew the 123 Central America (line to)
Bill McCoy (703) 591-9451


John Cummings
Boston Globe

Felix Rodriguez
Terry Reed
W itchita
(913) 295-2595
Terry Reed former Air Force Intelligene Oklahoma City
recruited by Oliver North
John Cathey
Oliver North (circled, North's assumed name)

contra pilots
covert operations

Mena hilly

Stormont Laboratories

Al Martin
(305) 932-923-78 45

The Bootheel Illuminati 

Who's another Bootheel muckity-muck? Former U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri, Veryl Riddle, who is now a partner in Bryan Cave. You know Bryan Cave, Danforth's law firm. The law firm that not so long ago had Elizabeth Rindskopf -- former CIA and NSA general counsel -- on board.

The Ghost of Hearnes: Scraping Muck from the Bootheel 

For years, I thought former Democratic Gov. Warren Hearnes was dead. But there he was on stage at Forest Park Community College, my alma mater, standing right behind presidential candidate John Kerry.

Readers of Media Mayhem may recall that Flo yd C. Warmann was Hearnes' right-hand man back in the late 60s and early 70s. Last week, the Republican-dominated St. Louis County Council approved the nomination of Warmann to a seat on the St. Louis County Police Board. Warmann was named to the position by St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, a Democrat.

Readers may also recall that Media Mayhem recently revealed that the World Finance Corp. of Coral Gables Fla. owned a nine percent interest in Mercantile Bank of St. Louis in the 1970s. WFC -- a laundry for drug money -- was founded by Guillermo Hernandez Cartaya. Hernandez was a Cuban exile and Bay of Pigs veterans with ties to the CIA. Jefferson Savings & Loan of McAllen, Texas, which was owned by WFC, funneled dirty money to Mercantil e, according to former Texas bank examiner Art Leiser. Hernandez, the founder of WFC, bought Jefferson Savings from the family of Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

Am I adding apples and oranges? Yeah, maybe, but they're both fruit. What's this got to do with Hearnes, you ask? Well, in the mid 70s St. Louis P ost-Dispatch reporter Ronald Lawerence reported that Mercantile Bank was the depository of a slush fund controlled by Hearnes, during his governorship.

Here's Lawrence's lede, dateline Kansas City, Nov. 22, 1975:

"Former Gov. Hearnes controlled throughout its life the secret political fund that was financed by unusual transactions involving Mercantile Trust Co. of Jefferson City, an Internal Revenue Service agent has testified in United States District Court here.

"Testimony of IRS agent Edwin L. Reising, contradicted assertions by Hearnes that he had no control over the fund, called the Bootheel Committee for Hearnes and knew nothing about it. ..."

Let's dig a little deeper into Lawrence's story:

Lawrence reported that Hearnes was alleged to control the slush fund from 1968 to 1973.
Also, a Mercantile banker, Donald E. Lasater, was indicted for hiding the existence of the slush fund. A judge later let Lasater off the hook, claiming that his actions had not impeded the investiagation into the Hearnes' tax case.

Lasater was represented by James E. "Jim Ed" Reeves of Caruthersville, Mo., which is in Hearnes' part of the state -- the Bootheel. Reeves twice served as interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in the 60s and 70s. You gotta be politically connected to get appointments like that. Interestingly, George Reeves, Jim Ed's brother and partner in the Carthursville firm of Ward & Reeves, was a FBI agent in World War II.

Carurtherville, by the way, was a center of organized crime in the 1960 s, including bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. And Ward & Reeves represented the local gang leader Lee J. "Jaybird" Gatewood, who was gunned down in 1969 outside his house in Caruthersville. So you've got a criminal defense attorney who represents mobsters and then changes hats and becomes a federal prosecutors. (This is kind of the reverse of the Helfrey and Hart method.)

Jim Ed Reeves shows up much later, in the e arly 90s, as an assistant prosecutor in the Waterwater investigation, helping to nail Judge David Hale, a Clinton crony. Reeves worked under Hickman Ewing, an unscrupulous former U.S. Attorney from Memphis. Who did the investigation of Hale and other Whitewater targets for Reeves and Hickman -- Rex Armistead, a former Mississippi state trooper with a very checkered career in law enforcement. (Do a keyword search under Armistead and Richard Mellon Scaife and see what shows up.)

Sorry for the digression. Hope I'm not losing you. I just made the Reeves-Lasater- Hearnes-Mercantile connection myself, while perusing my Mercantile clip file. There was a Lasater connected to Whitewater, too, but I never figured out if he was related to the Mercantile exec. ...

I guess the point of all this meandering is that if you don't dig deep enough you're never going to figure out what's going on. Former Gov. Hearnes is not dead (unless somebody dug him up) and he was standing on the stage less than two weeks ago here in St. Louis directly behind Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the ex gov were former Senators Carnahan and Eagleton.

Can't Tell Your Players Without a Score Card 

Riddle me this: How does Judge Simon get hooked up with two feds from Kansas City? Is it a marriage of not only convenience but profit? Well, it ain't Dimas House is it your Honor?

Check the mugshots and dossiers of the players at Simon, Helfrey & Jones.

A Jurist with Impeccable Creditials, No Doubt 

Paul J. Simon, the senior partner at Simon, Helfrey and Jones, has a track record dating back to the early 60s maybe longer. Simon hails from the city's 7th Ward, the area south of downtown, which has been the traditional turf of Syrian and Lebanese-Ame ricans since the turn of the last century. The unofficial headquarters of that political power base is St. Raymond's Maronite Church. (Let's do lunch!) This puts Simon in the same boat with Gene Slay, Democratic powerbroker and cousin to the current m ayor. Other prominent Syrian-American political families include the Webbes, Aboussies, Leisures and last, but not least, Michaels. (Cuckoo, Boom!)

Paul J. Simon
St. Raymond's Maronite Church member and board of directors
St. Gabriel Church member
Daughter of St. Paul
Dimas House
Boys Club

U.S. Arbitration and Mediation
Missouri Bar
American Bar
Bar Association of Metro St. Louis

St. Louis U School of Law 1960
WU undergrad 1956


Mob Busters: Helfrey and Hart, A Tragic Comedy 

Code Names: Easy Money and Gravy Train

David Helfrey's partner in crime(busting) is Gary Hart, who investigated the Operation Strawman case out of Kansas City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Gary Hart previously served as a senior executive with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While with the FBI, Mr. Hart directed many complex cases and activities ranging from the investigation of the assassination of a Federal Judge to untangling a scheme by organized crime to acquire gambling casinos with uni on pension funds. He also directed numerous compliance and performance audits relating to the FBI's various domestic and international operations. Mr. Hart practices in the areas of corporate compliance, business litigation and the defense of white-collar criminal prosecutions.

He's Big in China, Too 

cut and pasted from Simon, Helfrey & Jones' web site. Did I violate intellectual property rights, David? Sue me.

David Helfrey has more than 30 years of experience in litigation. He served in the United States Army, JAGC, as a defense counsel; prosecuting attorney; and Military Judge presiding over approximately 1,000 cases. While in the Republic of Korea he was an instructor of business law for the University of Maryland. Upon discharge from the Army he joined the United States Department of Justice's Kansas City Strike Force against organized crime, becoming the attorney in charge of the Strike Force in 1980. His final prosecution of the Mafia leaders of the Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee families for offenses related to the unlawful control of and "skimming" from various Las Vegas casinos was made into a major motion picture entitled "Casino." Since leaving the Department of Justice, Mr. Helfrey has developed extensive experience in intellectual property litigation. Currently, he is engaged in presenting seminars to various companies and governmental agencies in the People's Republic of China on international law, corporate and banking matters of concern in China. Although based in St. Louis, Mr. Helfrey has represented clients in various Federal and State Courts throughout the United States..

Simon, Helfrey and Jones 

Simon, Helfrey and Jones is a St. Louis-based law firm that specializes is representing defendants accused of white collar crime. Paul J. Simon, a retired Missouri Appeals Court judge, is the senior partner. His bio, on the firm's web site, indicates he is does strictly "mediation" work.

Partner David B.B. Helfrey, on the other hand, has represented Station Casino. In 1999-2000, Station was accused of illegally influencing the Missouri Gaming Commission's chairman Robert Wolfson through lobbyist-attorney Michael Lazaroff. During special Gaming Commission hearings in the summer of 2000, Lazaroff testified that he received a veiled threat from Helfrey and feared for his life.

But using Helfrey as its main source, The Riverfront Times placed the onus of the scandal squarely on Lazaroff, casting him as a liar and a clown. By the time the cover story came out in late 2000, Lazaroff had already pleaded guilty to the charges or was about to do so, giving the newspaper the freedom to say anything about him. Felons, of course, can't very easily make defamation or libel suits stick.

The story behind the story is more interesting. The RFT sat on the Lazaroff story from December 1999 until the summer of 2000. Then the paper ran a short inside feature on the hearings. The cover story wouldn't run for several more months, almost a year after the newspaper got the scoop.

While the newspaper dragged its feet on reporting the scandal, it continued to accept full-page ads from Station's.

Moreover, court records indicated that the founder of Station's -- Frank Fertitta Jr. -- was once a known associate of organized crime in Las Vegas. The RFT dismissed this fact.

The kicker is that Helfrey was the prosecutor in the 1985 Kansas City mob trial in which Fertitta's mob associations were revealed. In addition, Gary Hart, another attorney with Simon, Helfrey & Jones, investigated the case for the FBI.

I provided the information about Fertitta's mob ties to editor Safir Ahmed, managing editor Roland Klose and reporter Bruce Rushton, who was covering the Lazaroff case. But the finished piece, nevertheless, skirted Fertitta's checkered past. Instead, Rushton relied on Helfrey to discredit Lazaroff's testimony.

I first got the scoop on the Lazaroff case from a college chum of managing editor Roland Klose. Klose had attended Wash U with attorney Joe Jacobson in the early 1980s. Jacobson was involved in trying to get an Indian casino licensed in St. Louis or St. Louis County, and Klose told me to give him a call in late 1999. During a telephone conversation with Jacobson, the lawyer leaked rumors to me about Lazaroff's impending bust. I gave the information to Klose and he passed it to Rushton, who sat on the story for seven months before doing anything with it at all. After he finally wrote the short piece on Lazaroff in the summer of 2000, New Times, the owner of the RFT, sent him to Atlanta to cover a stock car race. The RFT doesn't normally cover sporting events, particularly ones hundreds of miles away from St. Louis. After writing the racing story, Rushton took a two-week vacation.

When I pressed for the RFT to cover Lazaroff and other controversies more agressively, Ahmed, the editor, told me to mind my own business. So much for the "free" press.

Loan Sharking Malnik Style 

Alvin Malnik, a contributor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooely's failed congressional bid in 2000, is the owner of Title Loans of a America, a Georgia-based loan sharking operation. Title Loans operates storefront lending agencies throughout the Southeast. Malnik controls more 60 loan shops in Florida alone. The scam works this way: Borrowers fork over their car titles for a high interest loan. Interest rates in some states are as high as 300 percent. If the borrower can't make the nut, Malnik and Company give the repo men a call. Here's the skinny on the predatory loan business from the Atlanta Contstitution, Oct. 5, 2000:

Consumer advocates call the practice "legalized loan sharking." They say borrowers complain the rates aren't explained to them. Some never get out from under the mammoth interest payments, default and lose their cars. With no transportation, some lose their jobs.

The complaints led to a protracted debate over whether to regulate the
industry. Florida reforms will make title loans there "disappear as you
know it," Coniglio said.

Florida title lenders grant more than 500,000 loans a month worth more
than $ 25 million in principal alone, Coniglio said.

As title lending dries up in Florida, Georgia becomes a potentially
deeper well from which title lenders can draw. Since 1992, Georgia has
allowed an annual percentage rate of 300 percent for title loans --- more than in Florida. Lenders say high operating costs and the credit risks of borrowers justify the interest rate. "The welcome mat's out. There's no pressure on them," said Melissa Burkholder, executive director of the Atlanta-based Consumer Law Center of the South.

Georgia title lenders faced no interest rate caps before 1992. Some
agencies charged 600 percent to 700 percent APR. In 1992, state Rep.
Billy Randall (D-Macon) was approached by the pawn industry to legalize
300 percent APR. "It was an act of compromise --- not a great one --- but it was a compromise that set some procedures in place and the (interest) cap," said Randall, now a civil court judge in Bibb County. "I admit the amount is pretty high, but before that it was worse. "Some people wanted to do away with the industry altogether. The title lenders wanted to pass something that would save them."

While she chaired the state Senate Judiciary Committee in 1997, Mary
Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) introduced legislation to ban title lending. Oliver ultimately pulled the bill, unable to get committee votes. "There were some legislators with strong constituencies who had title pawn loans," said Oliver, back in private law practice after an unsuccessful 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor. "They were reluctant to vote against those constituencies, plus there was not a large consumer lobby in Georgia" fighting the loans. Oliver said she was not swayed to the other side, despite flying in 1997 to the funeral of a state senator --- courtesy of the Georgia pawn lobby. "I didn't know whose plane it was at the time," Oliver said.

Title store homicides

In South Georgia, title lending has taken off because of Florida's
crackdown. Last year, Jacksonville capped title loans at 18 percent a
year. Four miles away in the Georgia city of Kingsland (population
15,000), there were no title loan agencies before the Florida crackdown. Two operate there today.

Kingsland's first homicides in three years took place Dec. 1 --- at Auto Acceptance Corp. Title Pawn. The store recently had moved from
Jacksonville. A customer walked into the title store downtown about 1
p.m. He found two men shot dead in the head, police said.

Robbery may have been a motive, but investigators aren't sure. No
witnesses have stepped forward. No arrests have been made. "There were
hundreds of people's names in their files. Any one of them could have
been a suspect," said Kingsland police Lt. Joseph Knight. "Maybe it was
an irate customer. But so far, we can't determine if it was a robbery or a target tied to it being a title pawnshop."

Kingsland City Manager Dayton Gillette --- who's also fighting massage
parlors and X-rated movie houses --- said the city council could zone
title businesses or cap their rates. But he's afraid that would invite
lawsuits, unless the General Assembly adopts legislation.

Gillette has turned to state Rep. Charlie Smith (D-St. Marys), one of
Gov. Roy Barnes' floor leaders. Smith supports title loan reform but says change is next to impossible in the current climate, which lacks
widespread public and political outcry. "The title pawn business is a
significant problem," Smith said. "You can change it if you can get
significant statewide support from a big group like the state chamber of commerce, but I don't see any statewide interest in that. "

In Florida, counties and cities faced with consumer complaints tired of
years of inaction by the state Legislature, so several local governments capped the interest rate on their own. The pressure helped secure state interest rate caps adopted this year.

Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth galvanized the attack on title
lenders, saying "their rates would make the mob blush." "What he didn't
realize," said Burkholder, the Georgia consumer advocate, " is that in
some instances it could well be the mafia."

Owner linked to mob

Based in Dunwoody, Title Loans of America is one of the giants in auto
title lending --- and its owner has been linked by the government to
associations with the mob. The company's ownership came into question
during a Fulton County civil suit. The action was brought by a woman
whose husband borrowed $ 150 against the title of his 1979 Toyota Celica. He struggled with a repo man and was shot to death.

According to 1997 court documents, Title Loans of America --- which owns hundreds of offices throughout the Southeast --- is owned by Alvin I. Malnik, a South Florida attorney.

Malnik, 67, was a longtime associate of organized crime boss Meyer Lansky and other reputed mob members, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. In 1980, the commission denied a casino permit to a company because of its association with Malnik.

In 1993, New Jersey gaming authorities filed a complaint when Malnik and his guests stayed free at an Atlantic City casino hotel. It reiterated the 1980 conclusions.

"This commission," chairman Steve P. Perskie wrote in 1993, "finds Alvin I. Malnik to be a person of unsuitable character and unsuitable
reputation. As to his character, the evidence establishes that Mr. Malnik associated with persons engaged in organized criminal activities, and that he himself participated in transactions that were clearly illegitimate and illegal."

Lansky died in 1983 at age 81. After World War II, he opened gambling
operations in South Florida and controlled casinos in Las Vegas and Cuba. Federal officials had long investigated his activities.

Malnik admits to being Lansky's attorney, nothing more. Never convicted
of a crime, Malnik helped develop the Atlantic City casino industry,
according to the New Jersey commission.

Title Loans of America officials did not return telephone calls
requesting comment.

Last year, however, as title loan opponents aggressively combed Florida, Malnik granted a rare interview from his estate in Boca Raton with the Palm Beach Post. He discussed lingering questions about his character. "My representation of a man in some civil matters in the early '60s has been converted by the media into relationships that never existed," Malnik told the newspaper. "It's the most preposterous, ridiculous, indefensible situation to be in." Malnik said he owns 61 title loan stores in Florida. He bought out his Atlanta partners in Title Loans of America.

Malnik disclosed nothing else about the business --- except that
customers are happy to borrow quick cash, then repay the debt. Malnik has denied government insinuations and is frustrated by decades of
speculation. "Frankly," he said, "I've given up. It's like fighting

Yes, We Have No Bananas 

Anthony William Giordano, aka, Tony W., is the grandson of the late St. Louis Mafia boss Anthony "Tony G." Giordano. The elder Giordano died of cancer in 1980. Giordano's son took over the family banana distribution business on North Broadway following his father's d eath. He quietly shuttered the produce company in the mid-90s. Anthony William, the grandson became a road construction executive for Fred Weber Inc. Federal Election Commission records indicate that the younger Giordano made polictical contributions to the late Gov. Mel Carnahan's campaign for U.S. Senate in late 1998 and Lacy Clay's congressional race in the summer of 2000.

Tony W. Giordano
Fred Weber
$1,000 Carnahan for Senate Committee

Tony W. Giordano
Fred Weber
Clay Jr. for Congress

Friday, February 06, 2004

"Professionalism" is Your Problem 

During the labor conflict at the Anheuser-Busch i 1998, the Post would send the same lame business reporter down to interview the workers. He would cop quote from somebody entering or exiting the plant. But when brewery workers opened the paper t he next day, you could count on the company line getting the top billing. See, the reporter would rely on the PR flack for the brewery to shape the story, a guy named Steve LeReshe. I'm probably spelling his name wrong. Anyway, I was looking at some Globe clips from 80s a while back and there was Steve's byline. Steve was another reporter who rolled over and went into PR. There's only a smidgen of difference between PR and business reporting. The business reporter and the corporate hack could re late to one another. They talked the same lingo, viewed the world in the same cockeyed way. So the workers' story was never told. The Post reporter knew that he was supposed to slant the stories in favor of A-B's management and he did just tha t w ith the help of the PR flack. In this sense,typical mainstream reporters act similar to the way that cops do during a strike. They protect corporate interests and property rights. A-B busted the Teamsters down at the brewery in 98.

Now Pultizer is t rying to do the same down at 900 N. Tucker. But I noticed that the business desk isn't covering the story.

Pulitzer's Union Busting Continues 

Here's the lede Joe:

Pulitzer Publishing Co., the owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has issued an ultimatum, demanding that members of the Newspaper Guild accept the terms of the company's latest offer or face the prospect of having an "open shop" clause reinserted into the contract prospect.

In December, the company withdrew its demand that employees be given the "freedom" of not belonging to the union. That effort to undermine the the union, led to a 96 percent rejection of the company offer by Post staffers.

But the company didn't get the message apparently. Management's latest proposal would end job security, nix maternity leave and give the company the right to outsource jobs. In addition, staffers could have their work hours chan ged without prior notice. And most importantly, the company would have the right to fire an employee without a full grievance procedure.

Why even have a union?

Firing people without notice is what the scabby Riverfront Times does best.

Definitions from the Original Devil's Dictionary 

by Ambrose Bierce

The greased pig in the field game of American politics.
The leading figure in a small group of men of whom -- and of whom only -- it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

Today's entry from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary 

intelligence-related program activities A secret CIA program, including the use of mind-altering drugs, aimed at making George W. Bush appear to possess average human intelligence.

I Feel Slighted 

Former Riverfront Times managing editor Roland Klose has joined the board of editorial advisers of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Klose is now the editor of Illinois Times, an teenie-weenie alternative weekly in Springfield. Is he taking the seat of former editor RFT Safir Ahmed or the late Sen. Paul Simon? One thing's for sure: nobody took his place at the RFT. I guess New Times, the anti-labor, Phoenix-based company that owns the RFT, no longer needs a resident snitch.

Bring Him On: Dubya Meets the Press this Sunday 

Seeing his approval rating drop 11 points in the last week, President Bush has made the risky decision to go on Meet the Press this Sunday. Incumbent presidents rarely grace the Sunday morning talk show circuit even in an election year. Bush appears to be running scared.

Owens Before Taxes 

The St. Louis Journalism Review's cover story this month is on Mike Owen's, ace reporter for KSDK, Channel 5. The gist of the story is that politicians claim that he has a conflict of interest because he's married to St. Louis Ald. Lyda Krewson. Owen's mugshot in the SJR looks like it's about 15 years old.

Can't SJR afford to hire a Webster University student to take a picture once in a while?

Schoemehl: The Next Generation  

Tim Schoemhl is vying for the Missouri House of Representative seat now held by Bob Hilgemann, who is banned from running for re-election because of term limits.

Malnik and Michaels' Ties Draw Nazi Hate  

Besides making headlines in the tabloids, mob financier Alvin Malnik's association with pop star Michael Jackson has piqued the curiousity of a scary bunch of right-wing extremists and racists. With that caveat, here's what the hate mongers are reporting:

There was speculation that the singer raised his $3 million bail with the help of Miami-based Al Malnik, a lawyer for notorious gangster Meyer Lansky, who died in 1983. Malnik reportedly began making large loans to Jackson when his career nosedived. Mal nik, 69, was cited by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1980 and 1992 as a person of unsuitable character.

... Shareef Malnik also demonstrates a distinct adeptness for acquiring high-profile wives. During a four year period while his father w as acting as chief financial advisor to Saudi Royal family member Prince Turki Bin-Aziz, son of the king of Saudi Arabia, Shareef married Sheika Hoda Al-Fassi, the daughter of Prince Turki's brother-in-law, the notoriously flamboyant Sheik Mohammed Al-F assi.

Click here to see Michaels and the Malniks clown around at the Forge restaurant in Miami Beach. From left to right (unconfirmed): Shareef Malnik, Al Ma lnik, Serena Williams, Michael Jackson, Chris Tucker and Brett Ratner.

Stop Ball Pork 

If retired Post-Dispatch reporter Fred Lindecke is "Dr. No," Post columnist Bill McClellan is "Mr. Maybe."

The latest on the fight to stop Fat Cat Republican backers of George W. from gaining millions in tax dollars to build a new stadium, courtesy of the folks at Stop Ball Pork:

DECEMBER 2, 2003 --- County Council
authorizes 45 million in bonds for ball park.
County will pay 110 million cost of retiring
the debt over 29 years out of hotel tax
revenue. But the bonds actually are to be
issued by the Missouri Development Finance
Board, which will give 45 million to t h e St.
Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment
Authority, which will give the money to the
Cardinals. The County backloads the bonds
to cause most of t h e payments in later
years because the hotel tax produces only
8.5 million a year, and after 6 million
annually is paid for the Jon es Dome, there’s
barely enough money to squeeze the
Cardinal bonds into the available revenue.

DECEMBER 23, 2003 --- Cardinals close on
the deal, but it turns out they had to issue
200 million in bonds themselves and they will
own the stadium, instead of having
investors they could not find issue the
bonds and own the stadium. This will cost
the Cardinal owners 350 million over 22
years to pay off this debt. This actually
save them money because under the
previous plan, they were going to pa y 14
million annually in rent to the private
investor owners for 29 years, or 406 million.
Taxpayers will pay 275 million over 29 y ears,
and in 2034, the Cardinal owners will give
the stadium to St. Louis County as payment
for the 45 million loan. For comparison, the
deal that died in the Legislature would have
cost taxpayers 430 million over 30 years.
The price of the ball park is now pegged at
387.5 million, not 402 million as had been

J AN UA RY 17, 2004 --- Cardinals break
ground. Cardinals will play in Busch Stadium
for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and open in
new park for 2006 season.
DECEMBER 2, 2003 --- Cou nty Co uncil
authorizes 45 million in bonds for ball park.
County will pay 110 million cost of retiring
the debt over 29 years out of hotel tax
revenue. But the bonds actually are to be
issued by the Missouri Development Finance
Board, which will give 45 million to the St.
Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment
Authority, which will give the money to the
Cardinals. The County backloads the bonds
to cause most of the payments in later
years because the hotel tax produces only
8.5 million a year, and after 6 million
annually is paid for the Jones Dome, there’s
barely enough money to squeeze the
Cardinal bonds into the availa ble rev enue.

DECEMBER 23, 2003 --- Cardinals close on
the deal, but it turns out they had to issue
200 million in bonds themselves and they will
own the sta dium, instead of having
investors they could not find issue the
bonds and own the stadium. This will cost
the Cardinal owners 350 million over 22
years to pay off this debt. This actually
save them money because under the
previous plan, they were going to pay 14
million annually in rent to the private
investor owners for 29 years, or 406 million.
Taxpayers will pay 275 million over 29 years,
and in 2034, the Cardinal owners will give
the stadium to St. Louis County as p ayment
for the 45 million loan. For comparison, the
deal that died in the Legislature would have
cost taxpayers 430 million over 30 years.
The price of the ball park is now pegged at
387.5 million, not 402 million as had been

JANUARY 17, 2004 --- Cardinals break
ground. Cardinals will play in Bus ch Stadium
for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and open in
new park for 2006 season.

Six Degrees of Separation  

We now know that mob financier Alvin Malnik contributed $2,000 to St. Louis County Exec Charlie Dooley's failed 2000 congressional race. In the recent past, Malnik, the owner of the Forge restaurant in Miami Beach, has also befriended Michael Jackson. Jac kson stayed at Malnik's Ocean Ridge manse last year and it's rumored that Malnik is advising the pop star on finanical matters, if not his personal life. Other stars who have partied at the Forge include, singer-actress Queen Latifah, tennis champ Sere na Williams and boxer Oscar de la Hoya among others. Can Kevin Bacon be far behind?

Mel Gibson, Norman Douglas, Tiberius and Me 

The Isle of Capri in the Bay of Naples has long been an alluring destination. The Roman Emperor Tiberius lived there from 27 to 38 A.D. British novelist Graham Greene visited the island, too. Greene's friend Norman Douglas, a minor British literary figure, also called Capri home. Douglas was known for his travel writing. But his most noted work, South Wind, a novel published in 1917, is set on a fictional Medittanean island modeled after Capri.

The apartment I rented in Capri in December 2001, included a housekeeper, who checked in once during my stay. She remembered Douglas, who died in 1952, when she was a young woman. The language barrier prevented me from learning much from her about the author's gay, island exploits, however.

Tiberius, on the other hand, was known to have a dozen palaces on Capri. The Roman ruler kept the island population in check by tossing a few people off one of the cliffs every now and again. The ruins of only one of his palaces remains. The French, under Bourbon King Charles, began ripping off the ancient marble in the 18th Century and carting it back to Paris. The plundering continued under Napoleon.

Vandals from the north are not so much a problem in winter, when Capri is reclaimed by the natives. But the exploits of the outside world still manage to invade this special place even in the off season.

While I watched Italian television one evening, a familiar face appeared on the screen. The commercial featured actor Mel Gibson, who wasn't selling the Passion of Christ but American bourbon..

Today's Word Puzzle 

courtesy of Danny Casolaro's notes

Shackley, Secord [pointing to Devlor(?)

nemesis (?) show that
federal subpoena power

POW issue
S.E. Asia

Judge King appointed by Nixon
Meyer Lansky
Carey stockholder
Roone Arledge
Ron Miller
POW conspiracy


Phil McComb Review of KTBG

state capitol
March 12 Oklahoma City
David Borin March

Frank McCloskey

POWs . ex

Mosser Beydoun (spell?) [Casolaro's own question mark]
[tied to] Carlos Cardeon -- Iraqi arms supplier

Miami -- Carlos Cardeon -- Mr. (?) James Guering (obtaining

Miami -- Carlos Cardeon [tied to] James Guering

U.S. Attorney --New Orleans?
old World War II weapons plant [Casolaro's question marks]

A Visitor to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love 

The unpublished news photograph from 1973 shows a tudor-style, brick cottage, with a slate roof; the kind of house you might find in St. Louis Hills. But this house was located out on Highway 141 in Fenton. Interior photographs of the basement show rows of 50-gallon chemical barrels, hoses and glass beakers.

Some years ago, the state widened the highway, so the house is long gone. Many of my memories are long gone, too. But I think I was at this house once-upon-a-time. I went along for the ride out to thi s isolated house in Fenton, which was still mainly a rural area in the early 70s. I can't remember much about the night, except that the purpose of the expedition into wilds was to score some pot. I never ventured down into the basement, where the LSD lab was located.

It has taken me some time to waken from this dream, decades, really. By the early 1990s, I was freelancing for the Riverfront Times, when I got the assignment to interview Timothy Leary. In preparation for the interview, I started doing background research on Leary. That's how I stumbled onto the story about the house that I briefly visited in Fenton

In January 1973, the FBI raided the house, at 425 N. Highway 141, arresting Leslie Daniels, an 18-year-old Canadian. Also arrested, as a part of the raid, were Judy Shaughnessy, 31, and Leland H. Jordan, 29.

Leland H. Jordan turned out to be an alias for Nicholas Sand, a chemist, who was closely assoicated with Timothy Leary, Billy Hitchcock and a bunch of California acid heads called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

Hitchcock, an heir to Mellon fortune, had been bankrolling the pyschedelic scene for a decade by the time Sand was busted in St. Louis County. In 1963, Hitchcock had rented Millbrook, his 4,000-acre estate in Duche ss County, New York, to Leary and company for the nominal fee of $500 a month. Millbrook became the tripping capitol of the universe, or, at least, the East Coast.

Among the equipment confiscated at the Fenton house was supposedly a sophisicated pill pre ss, which turned liquid LSD into tablet form.

After his arrest, Sand told authorities that he was a chemist at Signet Research and Development, at 2209 Delmar Blvd., which led to a second raid. Sand was assumed to be in control of the Signet lab on Del mar, but the police were unsure who owned the business. Photographs of the basement of the lab in Fenton showed chemical drums, including at least one marked clearly as being manufactured by Malinkrodt Chemical of St. Louis. Ready access to required chemi cals may have been one of the reasons that the LSD operation was centered in St. Louis.

While still being held in St. Louis County jail, Sand was charged in a multi-count federal indictment in San Francisco in April 1973, with seven others. The indictme nts included various criminal violations, including LSD manufacturing, dating back to 1967, the so-called "Summer of Love" in San Francisco.

Others involved in the distribution network were allegedly members of a loose-knit Orange County, Calif.-based gr oup called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The feds estimated the Brotherhood was a $200 million operation, involving 750 people. The Brotherhood was founed by an ex-biker, turned acid head, "Farmer" John Riggs, who revered Leary as a guru.

Sand began h is career making DMT, a powerful hallucenigenic drug, in his bathtub in Brooklyn. Around this time, he also became absorbed in the work of Russian mystic Gurdijieff. He wound up at Millbrook, Hitchcock's estate, cooking LSD for the Neo-American Boohoo Chu rch. After moving with Hitchcock to the Bay Area, Sand formed an alliance with the Hell's Angel's, which bought and distributed various psychedelic drugs that he manufactured.

Working together with Tim Scully, a one-time assistant to LSD wiz Augustus "Os wley" Stanley III, Sand cranked out 10 million hits of Orange Sunshine, a powerful type of LSD.

Hitchcock served as the Brotherhood's banker, acting as a broker for a small investment firm called Delafield from his home in Sausalito. "The dirty cash wou ld be laundered through Bahamian slush funds in the same way professional criminals hid their gains," according to Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, co-authors of Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and the
Sixties Rebellion.

According to the book, Hitchcock and Sand traveled to the Bahamas in the spring of 1968, and, using an assumed name, opened an account at the Fiduciary Trust Co., which was owned by Sam Clapp, a Hitchcock crony. Using Fiduciary, Hitchcock washed other diry cash from the Swiss-based Investors Overseas Services (IOS), a crooked off-shore mutual fund controlled by Bernie Cornfeld. From the false account at Fiduciary, Hitchcock further launderedmoney through Resorts International, Meyer Lansky's Bahamian casino. One of Lansky's aides was none other than Alvin Malnik, the loan shark who contributed $2,000 to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley's failed congressional campaign in 2000.

Uncited sources: The St. Louis Globe-Democrat and St. Louis-Post-Dispatch clips.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

And Now to Donna in Oakville 

Yes, I Donna, I agree there must be a reason why millions of people are upset with Janet Jackson baring her breast on national television for a nano-second. They're all sexually repressed idiots like you.

Donnybrook: Janet Will Burn in Hell! 

The Donnybrook bunch, minus Hartmann, expressed moral outraged this week about Janet Jackson's display at the Superbowl. Ho-hum. Meanwhile, Michael Powell, the FCC chairman, has done everything in his power, to allow Viacom, the parent of CBS (Charlie Brennan's emloyer) and Clear Channel to completely dominate the airwaves. None of these hacks are outraged about that, of course. Much to-do over a nipple. Everybody's got a pair, folks. Get over it.

Wendy Weiss Breaks the News 

"There's going to be a little Hartmann running around in a few months."

Malnik and Resorts International  

As Meyer Lansky's aide, Alvin Malnik was involved in a casino operation on Paradise Island in the Bahamas that morphed into Resorts International. Here's a little background on Resorts International:

For starters, Eddie and Dino Cellini fronted the operat ion for Lansky. Cellini: Now there'sfamiliar name. Were Eddie and Dino, presumably gambling up in heaven by now, related to William Cellini of Argosy and Alton Belle fame. At best a longshot. Don't bank on it.

Let's move on to the Weird Department, shall we?

Lou Chesler, another Lansky crony, and Wallace Groves, who allegedly had CIA connections, were both partners in a gambling venture with Mary Carter Paints, which later became Resorts International. In 1970, Resorts International formed a private int elligence corporation called Intertel, which was staffed largely by ex-CIA, NSA, BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs), Interpol, and Justice Department (FBI) officials. This is all according to Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, who co-authored Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD, and the Sixties Rebellion. Intertel's clients included ITT, McDonald's, and Howard Hughes' Summa Corp. Hmmm. Very interesting, but tangential. But what are blogs for, if you can't digress? g

Floyd's Hideway 

Newly appointed St. Louis County Police Board member Floyd Warmann has a luxury condo in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Addendum to Judge Romines Resume 

His Honor is the son-in-law of the late GOP Congressman Ted Curtis of St. Louis County.

Donnybrook: My Turn 

Odds are less than 50-50 that Donnybrook members discuss this week's unanimous County Council vote to approve Floyd Warmann's appointment to the County Police Board.

Odds are zero that Donnybrook members will discuss mob financier Alvin Malnik's 2000 campaign contributions to County Exec Charlie Dooley's failed congressional bid.

County Court Docket 

Thomas J. Erbland, Jr.

Wed 21-Jan-2004 08:00AM - Sat 01-May-2004 05:00PM

Accused in the murder of Nan Wyatt on February 18, 2003. Thomas J. Erbland, Jr., is currently housed in the St. Louis
County Jail. The case is set for trial in Division 14 on March 29, 2004.

The Tabloid Take: Alvin and Jacko 

In its March 18, 2003 edition, the Star, a supermarket tabloid, reported that mob associate Alvin Malnik was a confidante of pop star Michael Jackson. The two were alleged to have had lunch together at the Forge, Malnik's Miami Beach restaurant.

The Star reported that Malnik offered Jackson hospitality at his 40,000 square-foot mansion, which has 21 bathrooms.
The tabloid also reported that Malnik, 69, has triplets by his 28-year-old wife.[read more]

Get Out Your Notebooks 

What does the FEC data tell us about Alvin Malnik?

His middle initial is I.
He's a lawyer.
He's into real estate.
He owns the Forge restaurant
He's "retired."
He's owns Title Loans of America.
He's owned or owns American Loan and Title.

Malnik Loves the Show-Me State 

Forty percent of loan shark Alvin Malnik's political contributions from 1998 to 2002 went to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and the Missouri Demoratic Party, according to Federal Election Commission records. Don't believe me? Check out the FEC records yourself


2/18/2000 1000.00
02/18/2000 1000.00


07/02/1998 1000.00
07/02/1998 1000.00


03/30/2000 1000.00


12/31/1999 1000.00
03/16/2000 1000.00


07/20/1998 2000.00


05/10/2002 1000.00

Total Contributions: 10000.00

Malnik Links 

I know you're all busy down there at 900 N. Tucker, drinking coffee, rewriting press releases, running spell checks. So I'm volunteering to do some legwork on Malnik for you.

From Creative Loafing
Car title loan companies, often funded by major auto
retailers, blossomed in every neighborhood (and America's
largest, Atlanta-based Title Loans of America, boasts one of
the nation's most infamous organized crime figures, mob
lawyer Alvin Malnik, as its major investor). [read more]

Yesterday and Today 

Yesterday, Media Mayhem revealed that St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had accepted $2,000 in campaign contributions in 2000 from Alvin Malnik, an organized crime figure in Florida. Background research indicates that Malnik was involved in a skim operation in Las Vegas at the Frontier casino in the 1960s, which resulted in the conviction of St. Louis Mafia leader Tony Giordano and and a Detroit mafia boss in 1972. Ancient history? As recently as 1996, the Justice Department issued further indictments connected to the same case. Here's an excerpt from my story on the 1977 death of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles:

By the time he (Bolles) testified before the House Select Committee on Crime on May 16,1972, Bolles had been re s earching Emprise for three years. Asked by a congressman what he had discovered, Bolles answered:“We found there was a continual association with organized crime figures over a 35-year period.”

In late April 1972, only a few weeks before Bolles’ cong re ssional appearance, a federal jury in Los Angeles had convicted Emprise and fined it $10,000 for concealing the Mafia’s ownership of the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Mafia figures convicted along with the concessions firm i ncl uded the late Anthony Giordano of St. Louis, and Anthony J. Zerilli of Detroit.

Although the case dates back a quarter of a century, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit (1996) last year charged Zerilli and other surviving Detroit mobsters with a multi-count racketeering indictment that includes their illegal ownership of the Frontier and other casinos in Las Vegas.

Horseface "Black Pete" Licavoli 

Peter Licavoli (1903-1984)

Peter Licavoli migrated from St. Louis to Detroit in 1930 to act as a gunman for the Purple Gang. He moved to Arizona in the late 1940s at the request of his ally Moe Dalitz of the Cleveland syndicate. Licavoli controlled Arizona organized crime along with Jospeh "Joe Bananas" Bonanno into the 1980s. The following notes on Licavoli have been compiles from newspaper clips

Licavoli developed a criminal record in the St. Louis area as a teen, including a robbery conviction in the early 1920s. After serving his sentence, he was implicated in the robbery of the Edison Hotel here.

Peter Licavoli Sr. was implicated in the 1930 death of a radio broadcaster in Detroit. Gerald E. (Jerry) Buckley worked for radio station WMBC as a political commentator. He openly opposed organized crime’s involvement in narcotics trafficking.

Licavoli had a girlfriend, Marjorie Mansell, who also worked as an entertainer at the same station. Police found a bank book in her apartment that showed an average daily deposit of $2,000.

The book was issued to Egbert M. Hofmann, a political worker for then Mayor Charles Bowles.

Buckley was shot in the lobby of the LaSalle Hotel on July 23, 1930, while attending a “recall party.” Witnesses observed three assailants fired their pistols at Buckley’s back.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Peter Licavoli Sr. served a prison sentence for tax evasion. The two-and-a-half to five year sentence was imposed in 1958 for a tax evasion case dating back to 1950. He was described in the article as a former St. Louis rum-runner.

Peter Licavoli was indicted for the 1929 robbery of the Edison Hotel in St. Louis. He was arrested shortly after the crime at a residence at 4657 Delmar. His address was listed listed as 1628 Carr St. He is described as a “huckster.”

Licavoli was arrested in Detroit in 1933 for the murder of St. Louis gunman Milford Jones, who was killed at a fashionable nightclub in June 1932.

Ten years prior to his Detroit arrest, Licavoli was sentenced from 10 years to life in prison for staging a fake holdup of a messenger. The messenger, Gus Bova, who worked for the Tri-City Grocercy Co. in Granite City (Ill.), confessed that he had participated himself in the crime, allowing Licavoli to take $1,500 that he was carrying. Licavoli was said to be a member of a St. Louis crime group called the “Green Onion Gang,” comprised of Italians.

Licavoli was suspected in a 1930 murder that was part of a Detroit gang war that killed 11 people in 12 days.

In 1924, Licavoli was found guilty of larceny in St.Louis. He was alleged to have stolen a watch. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Licavoli was known as “Black Pete,” and also “Horseface.”

AP -- Aug 22, 1930
Licavoli was convicted of murder in Detroit for killing Henry Tupancy on July 14. The article says Detroit police detectives acknowledged that Licavoli was known to be a part of the underworld in of St. Louis for 10 years.

He was sentenced when 18 years old (in 1922)for the Tri-
State robbery of March 1921. After serving seven years in Menard State Prison in Chester, Ill., he was rearrested on release for his alleged participation in the Grand Avenue Bank of St. Louis, which later became Grand National, on Oct. 10, 1921. That robbery netted more than $100,000. He was released in that case for lack of evidence, however.

AP, Aug 1, 1930
Licavoli with Joseph Bommarito 25, another St.Louis gangster, were arrested in Detroit on July 17, after several hoodlums in that city were slain in a "gang affair.”

Special to the Globe-Democrat, July 18, 1930
“Joseph Bommarito, 25, had a police record of 64 arrests and no convictions until he was picked up here (Detroit) in 1926 for carrying a revolver loaded with “dum-dum” bullets, and was later sentenced to two years in the penitentiary on the gun-toting charge.

Giordano Notes 

culled from Anthony Giordano's 1980 obit by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ronald Lawrence

Giordano obit notes, Aug. 31, 1980

Giordano served two federal prison terms.

He commanded 40 Mafia “soldiers” and dozens of associates.

Giordano lived at 5966 Finkman Ave.

Wife’s name Catherine.

Adopted son William.

Owned Banana Distributing Co., 2622 North Broadway, at the time of his death in 1980.

Also a partner in Anthony Novelty Co. beginning in the 1950s.

His underboss was John J. Vitale.

Died at age 67 of cancer.

Considered “Don” in Denver.

Believed possibly to be a member the LCN’s national commission.

Known to have smuggled heroin from Italy.

Convicted in 1958 of income tax evasion. Served four years. Released in 62.

Convicted in 1972 for having concealed his ownership of the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

First major brush with the law occurred in 1934, when he was arrested for questioning in the murder of a deputy constable in St. Louis County.

Arrested with him at that time were Ralph Caleca and Frank “Three Fingers” Coppola.

Coppola deported in 1949 to Italy.
Through Coppola, Giordano gained association to two warring mob families in New York City: Frank Costello and Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

In the height of bloodshed between the two gangs, many Sicilian members fled to Detroit, where they established the crime family that today is said to be one of the most powerful in the country. Mr. Giordano was related to some of these hoodlums, giving him another important power base in his climb to the top.

In the early 50s, Giordano, not yet 40 years of age, climbed to power. He was allowed to share in Anthony Novelty Co., a vending machine firm that figured in numerous investigations.

Law enforcement authorities suspected Giordano was engaged in heroin smuggling with the help of his associate Coppola.

According to Charles Siragusa, then a Federal Bureau of Narcotics official in Italy, Giordano was involved in smuggling pure heroin from Italy to America. officials said Mr. Giordan o once negotiated the purchase of 44 pounds of pure heroin, worth a fortune.

The smuggling and distribution ring was centered in St. Louis and Detroit and was said by Siragusa to have supplied a large part of the country,including New York. Officials sa id the ring here included Mr. Giordano, Caleca, Vitale, and the late Lopiparo, then the head of organized crime in St.Louis.

Other “friends of Giordano included: Mickey Cohen, gambler; Santo Trafficante, Tampa Mafia head; Nick Civella, KC mob leader; Fr ank Bompensiero, San Diego Mafioso, who was killed in a car bombing after it was learned that he was a government informant.

Giordano was arrested often but not convicted until 1958 on tax violations along with Lopiparo and Caleca. Lopiparo died in p ris on, Giordano was released in 1962.

Authorities say Giordano was engaged in a variety of crimes: gambling, vice, loan-sharking,labor racketeering, extortion,and fencing of stolen goods.

Giordano formed an alliance with the South St. Louis Syrian-Le bane se faction, headed by James “JImmy Michaels Sr., thus giving Giordano some political clout.

The police also say Giordano was allied with Eastside rackets boss Frank “Buster” Wortman.

Giordano used Paul Leisure, a Syrian faction member, as his b odyguard.

Giordano gambled in Las Vegas often at the Dunes casino then owned by Syd Wyman, a friend of his.

He was eventually barred from gambling establishments in Vegas by the state’s Gaming Control Board, and its “black book,” which listed undesira bles.

In 1969, he claimed the St. Louis police violated his human rights for arresting him without probable cause. He lost the case even though it was pursued to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Giordano’s influence with the national “commission” was dem onstr ated several years ago, after the body of hoodlum Johnny Roselli was found in a drum floating in the ocean off southern Florida.

Organized crime leaders told the New York Times that one of the reasons for Roselli’s killing was his grand jury te stimony that led to Mr. Giordano’s conviction in the Frontier case.

He is survived by his wife Catherine, his adopted son William, who now head the Banana Distributing Co. on North Broadway, 2622

Funeral was held at Kriegshauser Funeral Home on S. King shighway.

Post Dispatch obit -- Aug. 31, 1980

Today's Word Puzzle 

courtesy of Danny Casolaro's notes


Tips for Blog Writing Online  

1. Use a computer not as old as my 10-year-old car.
2. Genuflect to Chairman Bill Gates and buy an IBM clone.
3. Ditch Netscape for the evil Internet Explorer.
4. Beg, borrow or steal a DSL connection.
5. When all else fails, use library computers.

Join the C.D. Stelzer Defense Fund 

Parking in downtown Dogtown was a bitch last night. So naturally I parked in front of the fire hydrant near the front door of the laundromat. I got a roll of quarters from the Mexican clerk, loaded six washers with laundry and added the detergent.

Then, being an upright citizen, I moved my car. I may be a scofflaw, but I’m not going to endanger the lives of Dogtown restaurant patrons by leaving my 10-year-old Geo Metro parked in front of a fireplug.
Besides, I was hungry.

I drove over to Chinese Expr ess on Hampton and got some fried rice to go. When I came back, the parking situation was the same. So instead of parking in front of the fire hydrant, I parked across the street in front of the mailbox. In hindsight, this was inconsiderate of me, but at least I wasn’t creating as much of a safety hazard.

So I went back in the laundromat to eat my fried rice and watch the second half of Smallville, the TV show loosely based on the character of Superboy. As I shoveled rice into my mouth and glared at the screen, a cop came in and asked the customer at the counter behind me if that was his SUV parked in front of the fireplug. The guy told the cop that the vehicle was his and the cop asked him politely to move it.

This set off alarms bells for me. I dashed out the door and crossed the street to find that my car had been ticketed for parking in front of a mailbox. The fine for my flagrant violation of the law -- $25.

The moral of this story is that -- if you’re going to be a scofflaw -- think big, drive an SUV, and have the Mexican woman do your laundry for you. Don’t worry about parking in front of fire hydrants – St. Louis’ Finest are sure to give you a break.

Donations to the C.D. Stelzer Defense Fund may be sent to scofflaw himself:

C.D. Stel zer
6545A Clayton Ave.
St. Louis, Mo. 63139

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


1. Why would St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley nominate Floyd Warmann to the St. Louis County Police Board? Because he's a nice guy?

2. At age 70, why would Warmann be interested in the post? Because he's a nice guy?

3. Why would Dooley except $ 2,000 in campaign contributions in 2000 from Alvin Malnik, a known associate of organized crime? Because he's stupid or did he get an offer he couldn't refuse?

4. Why would Malnik, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., be interested in contributing to a congre ssional race in St. Louis? Because he's a good Democrat?

5. Why does it take a former brewery worker and unemployed alternative journalist to clue the mainstream media into what the hell is going on? Is anybody paying me to rake the muck?

A Beautiful Place to Kill Yourself or was it Murder? 

In Feburary 1993, law enforcement authorities in Riverside County found the bodies of Don Chilton and his wife Patricia in the garage of a rental home at the Palm Desert Country Club near Palm Springs, Calif.

The discovery of the bodies corresponded wi th the announcement of federal indictments against the Chiltons by the U.S. attorney in St. Louis. The indictments charged Chilton, his wife and his brother -- all officers of Cape Girardeau-based First Exchange Bank -- with ripping off $15 million from t h e financial institution.

Bill and Patricia Chilton were found inside their car, which was still running, with .38-caliber gunshot wounds to their heads.

"It looks like he killed her and then himself -- but we don't know for sure," said Mike Werk, a d eputy coroner in Riverside County.

After being convicted of bank fraud, Bob Chilton, Bill's brother, hung himself in his prison cell at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla. in 1994.

In the 1980s, the Chiltons built First Exchange into a regional powerhouse, w ith branches in Jackson, Fredericktown and St. Louis. First Exchange bought out the failed Cass Saving & Loan to make its move into the St. Louis market. James Davis, a housing developer and one-time campaign manager for the late St. Louis County Executiv e B uzz Westfall, managed the two St. Louis branches of First Exchange.

Millions in bad loans were issued by the St. Louis branches of First Exchange, including a $500,000 real estate loan to Floyd Warmann and his partners. The $500 million bank failure remains the largest in Missouri history.

Warmann: My Debts Are Settled Thanks to Judge Romines  

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Floyd C. Warmann, who was appointed to the St. Louis County Police Board yesterday, submitted a letter to the St. Louis County Council clearing himself of any fiancial improprieties.

Post report er Martin Van Der Werf wrote: "... Warmann submitted a letter to council members, saying that he has paid his obligations or did not have to pay them because of court judgments. He said that he was a member of a real estate partnership that received the l oan from First Exchange Bank but that more than $1 million has been repaid. He also asserted that the man who bought the debt from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. could not collect because a judge ruled he lacked standing in the case. ..."

Who's the judge?

Kenneth M. Romines
DOB: 8-13-42, Wilmington, N.C.
bachelor's degree: William Jewell College
law degree: University of Mississippi, "Old Miss"
St. Louis County Circuit Court judge since 11-17-86
Spouse: Jane Romines
Chi ld ren: Elizabeth Romines, Katherine Romines, Emily Romines
previous public office held: Assistant Missouri Attorney General 1969-1972
church: Central Presbyterian

Back to Warmann 

When I learned from this morning's edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the St. Louis County Council had unanimously approved the nomination of Floyd C. Warmann to a seat on the St. Louis County Police Board, I decided to take a closer look at the man who appointed him, St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley.

I pulled a list of 481 contributors to Dooley's unsuccessful 2000 congressional race from the harddrive of my computer, and did a random keyword search using the letters FL. (I wanted to see if Dooley got any out-of-state money and Florida seemed like a good place to start.) The first Florida hit I came across was for Alvin Malnik, a loan shark from Miami, with longstanding ties to the Mafia. Malnik gave Dooley's campaign a total of $2,000 in 1999 and 2000.

But we shouldn't forget Warmann, that's why I started looking at Dooley in the first place.That and the fact that I saw Dooley berate retired Post reporter Roy Malone last year at a County Council meeting. Malone had addressed the council on behalf of Stop Ball Pork, the ad hoc committee that opposed the County giving $46 million in tax money to the baseball Cardinal owners to build a private stadium downtown.

A little further background on Warmann's finance woes:

By 1992, Warmann found himself in dire financial straits. His businesses were on the skids. Two of his oil firms were sold to a holding company controlled by one of his lawyers, and Warmann Oil Co., the mothership, filed for bankruptcy. Boatmen's Bank then sued Warmann to recover $1.7 million in debt. At the same time, Warmann allegedly reneged on a $500,000 real-estate loan from First Exchange Bank. The Cape Girardeau-based thrift had established itself as a high-stakes player in St. Louis in the wake of the savings-and-loan debacle of the 1980s, snapping up the assets of failed financial institutions. Before long, the bank's two local branches were themselves doling out questionable loans to homebuilders and commercial developers. After homebuilder James P. Davis -- a political donor and campaign manager for St. Louis County Executive George "Buzz" Westfall -- became chairman of one of the St. Louis branches, he approved millions of dollars' worth of loans to companies in which he had interests. When the FDIC finally took over First Exchange in 1992, it cost the government insurer an estimated $250 million. Although Warmann was not accused of wrongdoing, the collapse remains the largest bank failure in state history. After the U.S. attorney for eastern Missouri announced a string of indictments, two of the bank's officers -- a husband and wife -- died almost immediately in an apparent murder-suicide pact. Another First Exchange executive later hung himself with an electrical cord while serving time in federal prison.

Malnik and Resorts International 

The sages of St. Louis journalism have long pronounced organized crime dead here. But how do they explain the top public official in St. Louis County receiving campaign contributions from an organized crime figure whose career dates back to the early 1960s?

They don't.

Here's more background on mob financier Alvin Malnik courtesy of organized crime expert Gary W. Potter, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University:

"... Sam Cohen was a Los Angeles bookmaker who was closely associated with the Fl a mingo Hotel in Las Vegas in the 1960sand accused with (Meyer) Lansky of operating a major skim operation at the Fremont and Riviera casinos. With his sons Alan and Joel, he was involved in some interesting deals in both Florida and the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. These real estate deals were conducted in association with Alvin Malnik, Lansky's supposed "heir." ...

"... Malnik (born 1932), was picked by some observers of organized crime to be Lansky's probably successor. He first came to prominence in the early 1960s with the attempt to establish a gambling resort at Paradise Island in the Bahamas. He had already established himself in the banking and real estate businesses in Miami but soon become Lansky's public "front-man." Th e Paradise Island venture led to the establishment of Resorts International, the entertainment and gambling conglomerate which was the subject of intense law enforcement scrutiny for years as charges of control by Meyer Lansky surfaced. ...

" ... In the early 1970s, Malnik was also involved with Sam Cohen's sons in land deals in Florida and the Poconos. Their companies -- COMAL and "Cove Associates" -- dealt with Caesar's World and the Teamsters Pension Fund, both institutions which have attracted a su bstantial a mount of law enforcement attention. ..."

Malnik References 

Namebase lists these additional references for background on Alvin Malnik:

Brewton,P. The Mafia, CIA, and George Bush. 1992 (53, 177, 308)
EIR. Dope, Inc. 1992 (463)
EIR. The Ugly Truth About the ADL. 1992 (43)
Kwitny,J. Vicious Circles. 1979 (399)
Lernoux,P. In Banks We Trust. 1984 (50)
Messick,H. Lansky. 1973 (227, 231, 234, 241, 248, 265-8)
Parapolitics/USA 1981-08-15 (52-3)
Parapolitics/USA 1982-03-31 (8)
Parapolitics/USA 1983-06-01 (12)
Piper,M.C. Final Judgment. 1993 (87, 116)
Summers,A. Official and Confidential. 1993 (331-2)

More on Malnik 

As first reported by Media Mayhem this morning, St. Louis County Executive Charlie "Combat" Dooley received $2,000 in campaign contributions for his failed 2000 congressional race from Miami-based mob financier Alvin Malnik, owner of Title Loans of America. Here's a little more background on Malnik from Steven Brill's 1978 book, The Teamsters:

"...(Teamster) pension fund records show that from 1965 to 1972, $20,400,000 was lent to Caesar's Palace. Later, FBI memos asserted, Jay Sarno, the ostensible boss at Caesar's Palace was a front; in 1965, it was alleged a mob meeting was held in Palm Springs, California, to discuss the division of hidden ownership of Caesar's Palace between New England and Midwestern organized-crime forces. Suspicions about Caesar's Palace were rekindled in 1975 when, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board records, the Caesar's Palace parent company (called Caesar's World) entered into a deal with someone called Alvin Malnik to buy two resort hotels in Pennsylvania that Malnik had purchased with the proceeds of his own (Teamster) pension fund loans. The deal raised suspicion about Caesar's World that still lingered in 1978, when the company moved to set up gambling operations in newly liberated Atlantic City. It appeared that Malnik was known by law enforcement officials as an associate of longtime mob financial wiz Meyer Lansky. ..."

Charlie's Personal Loan Shark 

During his unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley received two contributions totaling $2,000 from loan shark and organized crime associate Alvin Malnik, according the Federal Election Commission campaign finance records.

Malnik -- regarded by many as the heir apparent to mob financier Meyer Lansky -- owns Title Loans of America, a chain of high-interest, storefront money lending outlets.

The operators of Caesar's Palace were denied a gaming license by th e New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in 1979 because of their associations with Malnik. . "He is not welcome here," said James Hurley, the chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. ... "He's done nothing to overcome his reputation of be ing closely identified with Meyer Lansky and other organized crime figures."

In 1962, Malnik was a director of the Bank of World Commerce, a Bahamas-based bank that catered to organized crime investors.

In 1978, a Bahamian company named Appolonia In v estment Ltd. paid more than $3 million for property just north of Malnik's estate. Records from the Register General's Office in the Bahamas indicate the principal owner of Appolinia was a Saudi prince and longtime friend of Malnik's. Malnik and the prince, a son of King Abdul Aziz, once lived in neighboring condos at the Cricket Club in Miami. Malnik's son later changed his name from Mark to Shareef and married into the royal Saudi family.

Charlie's Boy, or Is It the Other Way Around?  

Yesterday, the St. Louis County Council unanimously approved the nomination of Floyd C. Warmann to a seat on the St. Louis County Police Board. Warmann, 70, will take the place of his brother Gene, who is ill. St. Louis County Executive Charlie "Combat" Dooley refused remove Warmann from consideration after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial and news story last weekend that were critical of Warmann's past financial troubles. Warmann has failed to pay back debts totaling millions of dollars. He has avoided his creditors by putting his assets in other people's names, including his attorney and longtime girlfriend, Julia Von Wellen, aka, Dorthoy Ann Pyron. Madam Pyron has an arrest record in St. Louis County for promoting prostitution.

When the FDIC ran a credit check on Warmann a few years ago, the regulatory agency found that only asset in his name was a 1979 Ford van. I've got more possessions than that in my name -- and I've been umemployed for going on three years! Warmann is as crooked as a dog's hind leg. Ditto Dooley.

American Hires D.J. Wilson 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch gossip columnist Jerry Berger reported today that the St. Louis-American has hired former Riverfront Times reporter D.J. Wilson. Wilson was fired from the RFT in August.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

You Say Usama, I say Osama 

CIA Directory Testifies Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Feb. 7. 2001:

Al Qaida

"... Usama bin Ladin and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain the most immediate and serious threat. Since 1998, Bin La din has delcared all U.S. citizens legitimate targets of attack. As shown by the bombing of our Embassies in Africa in 1998 and his Millennium plots last year, he is capable of planning multiple attacks with little or no warning. His or ganization is conti nuing to place emphasis on delveloping surrogates to carry out attacks in an effort to avoid detection, blame and retaliation. As a result, it is often difficult to attribute terrorist incidents to his group, Al Qaida. ..."


"...There are still constraints on Saddam's power. His economic infrastructure is in long-term decline, and is ability to project power outside Iraq's borders is serverely limited, largely because of the effectiveness and enforcement of the No-Fly Zones. His military is roughly half the size it was during the Gulf War and remains under a tight arms embargo. He has trouble efficiently moving forces and supplies; a direct result of the sanctions. These difficulties were demonstrated most recently by his deployment of troops to western Iraq last fall, which were hindered by a shortage of spare parts and transport capability. Despite these problems, we are likely to see greater assertivness largely on the diplomatic front over the next year. Saddam already senses improved prospects for better relations with other Arab states. One of his goals is to sidestep the 10-year-old economic sactions regime by making violations a routine occurence for which he pays no penalty. Saddam has had some success in ending Iraq's international isolation. Since August (2000), nearly 40 aircraft have flown to Baghdad without obtaining UN approval, further widening fissures in the UN air embargo.

"Moreover, several countries have begun to upgrade their diplomatic re lations with Iraq. The number of Iraqi diplomatic missions abroad are approaching pre-Gulf War levels, and among the states of the Gulf Cooperative Council, only Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have not reestablished ties. Our most serious concern with Saddam Hus sein must be the likelihood that he will seek a renewed WMD capability both for the credibility and because every other strong regime in the region either has or is pursuing it. For example, Iraqis have rebuilt key portions of their chemical prodution inf rast ructure industrial and commercial use. The plants he is rebuilding were used to make chemical weapons precursors before the Gulf War and their capacity exceeds Iraq's needs to satisfy its civilian requirements. We have similar concerns about other dual-use research, development, and production in the biological weapons and ballistic missile fields; indeed, Saddam has rebuilt several critical missile production complexes. ..."

Fertitta is a Fat Cat Republican 

In 1996, Frank Fertitta Jr., owner of Station's Casino, made the top 10 of GOP contributors, donating more than a quarter million. [$$$] This is the guy the "progressive" Riverfront Times shielded.

Summing it Up 

Let's take a look at what Media Mayhem has reported on Frank Fertitta Jr. and Station's Casino:

Sam Maceo, a relative of Frank Fertitta Jr., helped Moe Dalitz get a Nevada for the Desert Inn, Vegas' first casino.

Maceo headed Galveston crime family from the 1930s to 1950s, which was under the control of New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello.

Dalitz was a partner with Las Vegas developer and gambler Irwin Molasky, the cousin of Allan and Mark Molasky of St. Louis. The St. Louis Molasky family were involved in illegal gambling and pornography operations from the 1930s to 1970s.

Frank Fertitta Jr. was mentioned as being involved in the Mafia skim of Vegas casinos in the 1970s. The evidence came in the form of phone taps carried out by the FBI's Operation Strawman, and were presented in a 1985 mob trial in Kansas City.

The top federal prosecutor in the Kansas City trial was David Helfrey. By 2000, Helfrey had went into private practice and represented Station's Casino in St. Louis, after a scandal broke involving Station's efforts to buy the influence of the Missouri Gaming Commission chairman.

The Riverfront Times delayed reporting on the scandal. When the RFT finally did report on the issue, it ommitted any information that tied Fertitta to organized crime even though editors and reporters at the newspaper were well aware of the connections.

During the year that the RFT sat on the story, Station's continued buying full-page ads in the paper.

Frank Fertitta is a major GOP contributor.


Did you vote today?

Today's Word Puzzle 

courtesy of Danny Casolaro's notes

Iraqi Missile and Guidance Capablity
The Alexandria Group
Cross Technology Resources Consultants
Denver, Houston, D.C.
fax 303/371-8022

I have become intimately aware of the duplicity and illusion of the last ten years in the activities of our government its agents and operatives in supporting the Technology Transfer activities of the Iraqi government. My knowledge is derived from actively participating in an early 1989 investigation that was called off after establishing that agents of the Iraqi government were seeking to acquire a highly sophisticated list of equipment. ...

Crime and Secrecy: The Use of Offshore Banks and Companies, a report made by the Permanent Subcommittee on In vestigations of the Committee on Government Affairs, U.S. Senate (8-25-85)

Robertson: We Need Another Warren Commission 

Sen. Pat Robertson (R-Kan.), the co-chair of the Senate's investigation into the U.S. intelligence problems regarding Iraq, told NPR radio this morning that what is needed is a "Warren Commission" type inquiry. Robertson's remarks were in reference to plans by the Bush White House to hand-pick a commission to cover up George W. Bush's lies.

Burn Her at the Stake Half Wit 

On the PBS News Hour last night, FCC chief Michael Powell chastized Janet Jackson's half time breast-baring routine at the Super Bowl, saying the singer had "violated a sacred time."

Monday, February 02, 2004

Flash Time at Half Time 

Show the replay.

Following Fertitta 

Readers of Media Mayhem by now know that the owner of Station's Casino is Frank Fertitta of Las Vegas. In the 1990s, Fertitta was one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party. Station's was kicked out of Missouri in 2000, after it was found to be illegally influencing Missouri Gaming Commission decisions. When the Riverfront Times wrote its cover story on the scandal, it failed to report Fertitta's organized crimes associations even though they had been informed of them. Evidence in a 1985 mob trial in Kansas City revealed Fertitta's Mafia connections. Here's more background on the Fertitta family culled from Pete Brewton's book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush:

The Fertitta family was originally from Galveston and is related to Sam Maceo, the mob boss of Galveston from the 1930s to 1950s. (Maceo paid homage to Mafia don Carlos Marcello of New Orleans.) Maceo helped secure a Nevada gaming license for Moe Dalitz, when the Cleveland mobster moved to Vegas in the 1940s. Tilman Fertitta is a successful restaurant chain operator, who owns Landry's seafood chain and Willie G.'s.

Frank Fertitta is Tilman's cousin and owns Station's Casino. "He (Frank Fertitta) had been associated with Carl Thomas at the Tropicana when it was being skimmed for the Kansas City and Chicago Mafia families," according to former FBI agent William F. Roemer Jr., author of War of the Godfathers.

If Roemer, the former FBI agent knows that Fertitta has been mobbed up, surely former FBI agent David Helfrey would know so, as well. Helfrey prosecuted the Operation Strawman case in Kansas City in 1985, when Ferttita's name was mentioned in evidence (bugged phone conversations). Because of his Mafia ties, Fertitta couldn't get a license in his name in 1992, when he was trying to start up a Station's casino in St. Charles, Mo. Instead, he had to put it in his son's name. When the casino got in trouble years later, it hired Helfrey as outside counsel. By then Helfrey had quit the FBI and went into private law practice in St. Louis. The Riverfront Times relied on Helfrey's word in its story about the gambling scandal that resulted in Station's being kicked out of Missouri.


Apex Oil: The Black Hole Expands 

Reporters have attmepted to investigate Paul A. "Tony" Novelly's empire for decades. All have failed or had limited success. When I tried, back in 1998, the U.S. bankruptcy court wouldn't even cut loose of what were supposed to be public records. So I called an attorney who had represented one of Apex's creditors. I figured maybe somebody on the other side of the litgation might be willing to talk. (Apex went belly up in the late 80s.) The lawyer talked down to me like I was a stepchild. When you start looking into Apex, you hit a stonewall.

This much I did find out: Novelly and his buddy Thomas Dunne, the Fred Weber exec, have beaucoup bucks in some off-shore outfit called Imperial Bancorp. If I recall correctly, it's out of Bermuda. Bermuda seems so staid. Why not the Caymans, boys?

Oh yeah, Novelly and Dunne's old high school, CBC, has some money invested in Imperial, too. As does, William Powell of Fred Weber, the Novelly Family Trust, the Novelly Exempt Trust, West Bank Trust, PAN West Bank Trust, CNN West Bank Trust, Apex Oil Co. Inc., W&B Investments Ltd. and the Apex Oil Company Employee Savings Plan.

But that was back in the 90s. Only the Shadow knows what's going on now..

Stogel's Dirty Little Secret 

For those of you who may have missed my Saturday evening critique of this week's Riverfront Times cover story, here it is, again. I've cleaned the copy up a bit, but it's essentially the same. The main problem with the story is that the lede is buried way deep. If you don't want to read the entire critique, I've moved the gist of it up.

The lede, as I see it, shows up about 3,000 words into the piece. It comes in the form of a quote by attorney Matt Ghio, who is suing Stogel and company on behalf of a downtown resident.

"They were having these meetings and not letting anybody in the community know about it."

So you write a short descriptive lead, using Toft or somebody as the source. Then quickly go to the nut graf, which is the closed door meetings and then stick the tax credit details in the next sentence. Bullet some other main points and then stick the rest of the details in the rear. What you get by structuring the story this way is -- news. It's punchy and it's got legs and the reader doesn't have to wade through 3,000 words to understand what the hell is really go on.

Steve Stogel's deal to rehab the Old Post Office and build a beautiful parking garage across the street from it

Of f the top of my head: It appears Mr. Sogel, aka Stogel, has backed other projects that have bulldozed downtown landmarks in the past. He was involved the the Gateway Mall fiasco in the 1980s, which resulted in razing the Title Gurantee and a couple of ot her early 20th Century skyscrapers. The RFT under Ed Bishop, now editor of the St. Louis Journalism Review, made a crusade out trying to save the buildings. The new "Gateway Mall" also destroyed a decades-old, New Deal plan for a real ma ll, which was to extend up Market Street to Union Station.

More Random thoughts:

This week's Riverfront Times, cover story on the Old Post Office cites an earlier article by Elizabeth Vega about the imminent death of the Cen tury building . The reference, of course, doesn't mention that the RFT fired Vega.

That's not germane to a downtown architecture story. Unlike scatter-branined bloggers, a reporter can't wander off on some unrelated tangent.

Randall Roberts' story is well researched and written. It's too bad his editor didn't take the same care with the cover this week. On the cover, Stogel's name is spelled S-O-G-E-L. Whoops! there I go, again. I've already pointed this out twice since Wednesday. Pouncing on the typo has brought accusations that I'm some kind of sadist. So I'm turning a new leaf: What's one missing letter in the larger sheme of things.

I'm about half way through the opus at this point, and Roberts' story, on the whole, seems "balanced," whi ch isn't necessarily a good thing in what used to be considered an alternative newspaper. Alternative newspapers once-upon-a-time advocated progressive positions.

After a long, but well written intro, this week's cover story gives the critics of the Old Post Office boondoggle a few short paragraphs to give their positions and then allows Stogel to talk about his lofty ambitions for several column inches.

The story is heavy on the politics and business angles of the development deal, which is obviously required in such a complex issue. But the Century building, which will be demolished if Stogel gets his way, is dismissed as a "reclic" early on. If this description was tongue-in-cheek, I missed it.

Moreover, in the first half of the story, at least, there aren't any architects cited, unless I missed it. The story is about architecture isn't it? We ll, maybe not. It's really about greed. But neither the bricks and mortar or dollars and cents are brought to the fore.

In addition, preservationist Ca rolyn Toft doesn't get a word in until the last several graf in a story that's probably 5,000 or more words long.

In the "old" days, when the RFT shamelessly supported the preserving downtown architecture, the story would have probably lead wit h Toft (an over-used source) escorting the reporter around the block pointing out the integrity of all the buildings surrounding the Old Post Office -- which is self evident even to somebody like myself who knows little about architecture.

If Stogel and his ilk tear down the Century building and stick a parking garage across the street from the Old Post Office, they will rip the heart out of downtown. St. Louis isn't Chicago. The scale is much smaller. The blocks surrounding the Old Post Office are the only ones remaining downtown that give pedestrians a sense of being in a big city. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out, obviously.

The other thing that needs to be front loaded in the story is the cost of the proposed project and where the money is coming from. Roberts doesn't get around to that until about 1,000 or 1,500 words into the
story. Deep into the story, Roberts pegs the cost of the project at $73 million ($43 million minus the garage costs) and talks in general terms about "funding through tax credits." Sounds like a rip off, but not much else is mentioned about the tax credits.

The lead, as I see it, shows up about 3,000 words into the piece. It comes in the form of a quote by attorney Matt Ghio, who is suing Stogel and company on behalf of a downtown resident.

"They were having these meetings and not letting anybody in the community know about it."

So you write a short descriptive lead, using Toft or somebody as the source. Then quickly go to the nut graf, which is the closed door meetings and then stick the tax credit details in the next sentence. Bullet some other main points and then stick the rest of the details in the rear. What you get by structuring the story this way is -- news. It's punchy and it's got legs and the r eader doesn't have to wade through 3,000 words to understand what the hell is really go on.

None of this is necessarily the fault of the reporter. This is the way that New Times, the owner of the RFT, wants stories like this reported and written. They want the stories looooong and unfocused. and New Times loathes the idea of being perceived as "politically correct." New Times also has an aversion to taking a solid editorial stand on anything. Finally, New Times is based in Phoenix, where they have no historic architecture. To paraphrase one wag's view of New Times: They don't give a rat's ass about no stinking old building. For that reason among many, it's surprising that Roberts and the RFT would even attempt to write anything about the subject. After all, writing about downtown architecture in the "New" RFT is like asking to be hit by a wrecking ball. Look what happened to Vega.

Lefty and Adnan 

This is the story I started to tell before I got distracted by Frank Fertitta and the Riverfront Times' inability to even name the owner of Station's Casino.

When Lefty Rosenthal was managing the Stardust in Vegas in the 70s, he would sometimes host Adnan Khoshoggi, the Saudi arms dealer. Lefty would comp 20 or 30 members of Khoshoggi's entourage for a show and drinks. And in return, the arms dealer would lay down a bet. Rosenthal told author Nicholas Pileggi that Khoshoggi could drop as much a s $2 million. Also, he had an eye for the ladies.

"When Khoshoggi would light on a casino," said Rosenthal, "half of the good-looking women in Beverly Hills would get on planes."

They Made a Movie Out of It 

Remember the movie Casino? De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci. The movie was based on Nicholas Pileggi's non-fiction book of the same name. The plot involves the Vegas scams of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Tony "the Ant" Spilotro. The FBI busted up the scams as a part of Operation Strawman. As a result, dozens of mobsters, from across the country, went to prison. The scam was the skim. Midwest Mafia families were all getting a cut of the casino action off the top. KC, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland. The trial was conducted in Kansas City, home turf of the Civella crime family. The assistant U.S. attorney heading the prosecution was David Helfrey. Chief investigator was FBI agent Gary Hart. The two now run a criminal defense practice here in St. Louis. One of the unindicted, mob-connected wise guys implicated by evidence introduced at the case was Frank Fertitta Jr., who later founded Station's Casino. When Station's applied for its Missouri license in 92, Post-Dispatch reporter Phil Linsalata discovered that Frank couldn't put his name on the license because he was a known associate of organized crime. So Fertitta had his son sign the papers. After the Station's got busted for illegally influencing Misouri Gaming Commission decisions through attorney Michael Lazaroff, I told my editors at the Riverfront Times and the reporter working the story about Fertitta's mob connections. I gave them copies of all the background info I had collected on the case. None of it -- zero -- ended up in the lame story -- delayed for almost a year -- which finally ran in the alternative weekly. Meanwhile, Station's kept running full-page ads every week until they were fined a $1 million, forced to relinguish their license and kicked out of the state. After convicting the bad guys, lawyer Helfrey and agent Hart set up shop here in St. Louis and guess who they represented? Fertitta and Station's Casino. Now who do you think the RFT reporter used as a primary source for his lame story on Lazaroff? -- David Helfrey. Looks like the "reporter" served more as a public relations hack for Station's doesn't it?

I know I've already told this story. It bears repeating.

Cueto's Back  

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Belleville attorney Amiel Cueto has been released from the federal correctional facility in Marion, Ill., after serving his sentence for his 1997 conviction. Cueto was found guilty of obstructing the f ederal prosecution of his client and business partner Thomas Venezia, the Eastside organized crime boss. Cueto has already approache the the court to get his conviction overturned, claiming that his indictment was rigged.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?