In 1960 the original movie version of Ocean’s Eleven was released and those familiar with the plot will know that Frank Sinatra’s character masterminds a plot to pull a heist at a Las Vegas casino.
Well they say art imitates life, and while you may have heard of the movie, you may not have heard of the Vegas Black Book, released by Nevada’s Gambling Control board and containing a list of eleven unsavoury characters banned from Nevada casinos.
The book was a makeshift publication, taped together with scotch tape and was known as the Vegas Black Book, full of the ‘Rat Pack’ of Italians, unsavoury mafia types attracted by the bright lights and the smell of money, and feared and known by local establishments.
Today’s list contains just one woman, Sandra Kay Vaccaro, a lady in her late 70s who has been on the Black Book list since 1986. Many of the names featured in today’s book were small children when the original book was published in 1960, but that hasn’t stopped these men and women following in the nefarious footsteps of their predecessors.
While the Black Book is notorious from start to finish, some of the criminals on it are more notorious than others:
While Mr Bulgarino wasn’t added to the Black Book until 2004, he was known to federal police as a racketeer and money-launderer as early as 1998 when he pleaded guilty to said offences, admitting he was part of a slot machine ring. This run in with the law did not detract his activity and by 1997 he’d hit the big time so to speak, stealing $6.1 million from various Nevada’s casinos, a crime for which he was sentenced to almost four years.
By 2004 his name was added to the Excluded Persons List and his criminal activity seems to have come to an end where he lived out his life as a semi-famous mobster until his death a decade later.
Before his death he was immortalised in ‘Jackpot’ a biography by Tarvis El Alberty where you can find out everything about the man the FBI named ‘The Genius’.
Ronald Harris is a unique entry to the Black Book because he worked from the inside. Harris had enjoyed a 12-year career as an employee of the State Gaming Control Board assigned to evaluate gaming devices.
Somehow his hand was turned to less honest means of making money and he and an accomplice stole thousands in the early 90s from various machines using knowledge of flaws he had found thanks to his expertise in the industry.
Eventually Harris was arrested in 1995 in New Jersey for using a computer programme to win a $100,000 Keno jackpot upon which he served two years in prison.
Upon release Harris upped and moved immediately to Nevada and while he hasn’t been arrested or charged with anything since, he has been on the Black Book since his release from prison in 1997.
If you’re thinking this name is familiar, it’s because Sandra Vaccaro still finds herself in the Black Book to this day. Not only is she the only woman on today’s list of excluded persons, but also she’s the only woman ever to be featured; quite a dubious accolade.
John Vaccaro is part of the Los Angeles Organised Crime Family, a group of criminals first led by Joseph Ardizzone a century ago and based in California as part of the Mafia.
While John was incarcerated for his part in one of the largest slots cheating cases in Vegas history, he now runs a Construction company, based in the Nevada area where they couple bought a property in 2004 after his release from prison.
The grand detached, double-fronted property would suggest the Vaccaro’s haven’t done too badly from their shady past, the end surely of a criminal career dating back to the 1970s.
John Vaccaro has a criminal history dating back to 1971, and like many of those contained in today’s Black Book he has connections with some of the earliest members entering a criminal career after originally taking a loan from Louis Dragna back in 1970. The couple remain on the Excluded list where they are likely to stay until their deaths.
Another long-standing entry to the list is Anthony St. Laurent who found himself named in 1993 after a long criminal career as part of an organized crime family based in New England. Originally born in Italy, St. Laurent came under the eye of the authorities in the 1960s.
In the July of 1993 justice finally caught up with him, as he, Robert DeLuca and two dozen others were indicted for running a bookmaking operation out of the Foxy Lady Strip Club. St. Laurent was sentenced to just 10 months for his role in the operation, but his entry into the Black Book is likely to last a bit longer than that.
Although that could have been an end to the criminal’s career, he blamed DeLuca for his role in his imprisonment and would receive a further 7 years in prison for hiring a hitman and planning his murder. Although now released, St. Laurent is still considered an active criminal.
A career slots cheat, Tommy Glen Carmichael found his way onto the list back in 2003 where he remains. He’s totally unique in the criminal world, employing a method known as top-bottom joint in the early 60s, he used the method to defraud machines and was finally sentenced in 1985.
All prison did was teach him more tricks of his trade and upon his release he went to purchase a slot machine to see exactly how they worked due to changes in the industry during his incarceration. Here he discovered how to trigger the ‘slider’ and quickly became rich from his nefarious work.
The authorities eventually caught up with Carmichael again and his second sentence was a probation order, upon which he was added to the Excluded Persons List where he remains today.
While we picked a selection of interesting and illustrious criminal masterminds to feature on our Black List, they are just a small number of hundreds of criminals that have featured on the list over the years. And while it’s now 55 years since the original list, it seems criminals are well connected and will continue to be for a while yet. One thing the Excluded Persons List shows is that there may not be honour among thieves but there are certainly plenty of connections and it only takes a couple of minutes research to link today’s members to many of the original members in that old scotch-taped book back in 1960.
Every form of gambling has it’s con-artists and the lottery is no different. Check out our article about lottery criminals to find out more.