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Reputed Mafioso Apparently Jumps Bail : Spilotro, Slated for Trial in Las Vegas, Reported Missing by His Family

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Times Staff Writer

A fugitive warrant was issued in Las Vegas on Tuesday for Anthony John Spilotro, reputed overseer of the Chicago Mafia’s interests in Nevada and California, whose family said he has disappeared.

U.S. Magistrate Philip Pro authorized the warrant after Spilotro violated terms of his $100,000 bail by failing to check in with court officials Monday.

Spilotro, 48, is scheduled to be retried next week in Las Vegas on federal charges that he headed a lucrative burglary, extortion and arson ring there. He also faces trial in Las Vegas on federal charges that he violated the civil rights of a suspected government informant by having him killed. And he faces trial in Kansas City on federal charges that he helped skim money from two Las Vegas casinos.

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Spilotro’s sister-in-law, Ann, reported him missing Monday. She filed a report with police in the western Chicago suburb of Oak Park, where she lives, saying that she had last seen Spilotro Saturday afternoon, leaving her house with her husband in her car.

Her report did not mention where Spilotro was heading, said Patrick Foran, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas office.

She also reported that her husband, Spilotro’s brother, Michael, 41, was missing. He is awaiting trial in Chicago on extortion charges stemming from an FBI investigation of organized crime links to sex clubs and prostitution in the city’s western suburbs.

Anthony Spilotro, whose most evocative nickname is “Tony the Ant,” had court permission to travel to the Chicago area for eight days to visit his family and to have another brother, Patrick, 49, a Chicago dentist, do some work on his teeth.

When the missing-person reports were filed, Oak Park police notified other Chicago-area police departments that Anthony and Michael Spilotro were “missing under suspicious circumstances and possibility of foul play exists.”

But authorities in nearby Schiller Park said they found nothing to suggest foul play Monday night when they discovered Ann Spilotro’s car, a Lincoln Mark IV, in a motel parking lot next to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. “The car was clean and parked legally,” said Schiller Park Police Sgt. Ronald Ballarini.

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Clothes and Golf Clubs

Inside were a few personal belongings, including “workout clothes” and golf clubs, said Schiller Park Police Chief Edward Bluthardt Jr.

Speculation about the disappearance among organized crime watchers centered on three possibilities: that Anthony Spilotro staged his own kidnaping; that he was killed by underworld rivals, or that he has become a government informant and is in hiding.

“It’s conceivable that he’s in government custody as a witness, but I don’t think so,” said Bill Roemer, former senior agent on the FBI’s organized crime squad in Chicago and now a special consultant on organized crime to the Chicago Crime Commission.

“It could also be that the mob is afraid he’s going to be an informant. He could have been hit,” Roemer continued. “But my educated guess is that he’s pulling a Bonanno.”

Fake Kidnaping

The reference was to Joseph Bonanno, “the only living charter member of the commission, which is the ruling body of organized crime,” who faked a kidnaping in 1964 after he was subpoenaed to testify on organized crime before a grand jury. “He disappeared for 18 months. And by the time he reappeared, the enthusiasm of the prosecutors had dissipated . . . and he walked away,” Roemer said.

The investigator said Spilotro recently lost out in competition for leadership of the Chicago Mafia. He said the four highest-ranking mobsters in Chicago were recently convicted and sentenced to long prison terms in the same Kansas City skimming case in which Spilotro faces trial. However, Roemer said, the competition, with a man who has long headed gambling operations for the Mafia in Chicago, was peaceful.

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Spilotro came to Las Vegas in 1971 after 10 years as a “street soldier” in the Chicago crime syndicate. FBI agents came to regard him as overseer for the Chicago Mafia’s interests in the western United States.

25 Execution-Style Killings

He became king of the loan sharks on the Las Vegas Strip, and his presence in Nevada coincided with unprecedented gangland violence. Spilotro himself was questioned or publicly accused in at least 25 execution-style killings. Most recently, he was acquitted in 1983 in a Chicago trial of the torture slayings of two men more than 20 years ago.

His first trial on charges that he headed the Las Vegas burglary ring--dubbed the Hole in the Wall Gang--ended in a hung jury in April.

The Associated Press quoted unidentified friends as saying they were worried because he calls his wife, Nancy, while out of town, but she has not heard from him.

Spilotro’s brother, Michael, is an actor who has had small roles on television and owns a Chicago restaurant.

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