Mobster turned rat Frank Cullotta has died Thursday morning at the age of 81.
Cullotta was friends and right-hand man of mob boss Tony “The Ant” Spilotro since they were both teenagers in Chicago carrying out burglaries and murder.
In 1979 Cullotta moved to Las Vegas to join Spilotro, who had been there since 1971 taking care of the Chicago mafia’s business interests. Eventually, Cullotta took charge of Spilotro’s “Hole in the Wall Gang” who carried out many high-end burglaries.
In October 1979, Cullotta murdered his friend and grand jury witness Sherwin “Jerry” Lisner. Cullotta suspected him of informing on a money exchange scam the two of them were working on together. It wasn’t until later on, after Cullotta became an informant himself, that he admitted killing Lisner on orders from Tony Spilotro.
Spilotro was on top of the world running Vegas street rackets in the 1970s and 80s however, things changed on July 4, 1981. This is when the Hole in the Wall Gang decided to rob Bertha’s Gifts & Home Furnishings on East Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas. The robbery was a disaster and most of the gang were arrested including Cullotta. This drove a wedge between Cullotta and Spilotro.
In 1982, Cullotta was eventually sentenced to 8 years in Metropolitan Correctional Center, San Diego. He was paroled after 2 years and directly entered the witness protection program. He left the program after 2 years of moving around on an assumed name.
Since then, Cullotta has spoken in interviews about his time with Spilotro most notably in an interview in 2016 that marked 30 years since Spilotro and his brother were found murdered and buried in a cornfield in Indiana.
Cullotta liked to tell stories and was an adviser for the movie “Casino” as well as having a small part in the movie.
He also took part in a Vegas Mob Tour, going around Las Vegas pointing out infamous locations to eager tourists.
There was also of course his YouTube channel Coffee with Cullotta where he spoke about his time with the mafia. It was on this channel Thursday morning that the show’s host, Adam Flowers broke the news of Cullotta’s death saying that “Cullotta was in the hospital for COVID-19, along with other health conditions”.
Before his death, the Mob Museum was in talks with Cullotta about collaborating on a new museum program. Vice President of Exhibits & Programs, Geoff Schumacher described him as “the living link between Las Vegas and Spilotro”.