Mobster Monday: Tony “The Ant” Spilotro


The Ant is buried in a cornfield. The sentence may sound odd, but to fans of the Italian Mafia, it’s standard jargon. Tony “The Ant” Spilotro’s body was found buried in a cornfield along with his brother’s.



Anthony John “Tony, the Ant” Spilotro, was born on May 19, 1986, to immigrant parents. Pasquale “Patsy” Spilotro, Sr. had six sons. Five of them would join the criminal underworld, but one went to school and became a respected oral surgeon in Chicago.


No one knows why some people choose the life of crime, and others choose a better path. Perhaps Patsy’s restaurant turned mobster hangout introduced his sons to crime at an early age. Who knows? Whatever the reasons, Tony chose the Mafia. He dropped out of high school and started his life of crime with petty larceny and purse snatching.


Spilotro officially became a made member of La Cosa Nostra in 1963 at the age of 25. In 1971, “Joe Batters” put Spilotro in charge of Las Vegas matters, but Spilotro would spell the beginning of the end of the Mafia’s reign of Las Vegas. He was a brutal enforcer and brought a lot of media and law enforcement attention to the operations.


In 1974 an article in the L.A. Times stated there were more gangland-style killings in Vegas than in the past 25 years combined! Obviously, that type of spike in murder will draw attention from the FBI and local law enforcement.


Two years after that article hit the headlines, Spilotro decided to branch out beyond the Mafia’s control. He created the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” Like most other monikers, the name was given to him by the media. The group was known to drill through walls and ceilings to gain access to their target. The stolen goods were fenced through the Gold Rush, LTD pawnshop that sat right off Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas.


During this time, The Ant’s relationship with his childhood friend became strained. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was a casino executive and ran four different major casinos for the Mafia. Lefty and The Ant’s relationship reached a boiling point when The Ant began having an affair with a Vegas showgirl named Geri McGee. McGee was married to Lefty at the time.


July 4, 1981:The Bertha’s Robbery Disaster

The Hole In The Wall Gang had spent weeks laying out an elaborate plan to rob the Bertha’s Gifts & Jewelry store. Spilotro and his gang were set to cash in big time, but there was one problem. Sal Romano was a specialist in disabling alarm systems. He was also an informant. By the time the robbery went down, the FBI and the local police had the building under surveillance.


Six members of the gang were arrested, but four avoided the arrest. After sitting in jail for six months, the authorities successfully turn one of Spilotro’s men. Somehow the police had gotten Spilotro on tape hiring a hit on Frank Cullotta. This was all that Frank could take. He had done everything for The Ant. Cullotta agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify against Spilotro.


Spilotro was tried and acquitted due to lack of evidence, but he had bigger problems lurking in the shadows of his organization. A secret meeting had taken place, and the Mafia wasn’t happy with Spilotro’s behavior. He was supposed to be protecting the mob’s interest in the casinos, not running around with a mobster’s wife, and bringing attention from the FBI for his robberies. A hit was sanctioned, and two of the six Spilotro brothers would pay.

June 14, 1986: The Disappearance:

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael left Mike’s home in Oak Park and was never heard from again. Mike’s car was found abandoned in a motel parking lot near the O’Hare International Airport.


Eight days later, their bodies were found by an Indiana farmer 96 miles south of Chicago. The farmer noticed the fresh grave and thought a poacher had buried an illegally killed deer, but he was in for a shock. Tony Spilotro and Mike Spilotro had been killed by blunt force trauma, stripped of their clothes, leaving nothing but their underwear and buried on top of each other. The burial plot was in a cornfield near the Willow Slough Preserve just outside of Enos, Indiana.


Sadly, the one brother who took the high road ended up having to supply his own brothers’ dental records for identification. This case would go unsolved for nineteen years. On April 25, 2005, the FBI announced it had indicted 14 members of the Chicago Outfit for 18 murders, including the two Spilotro boys.


By the time of his death, the FBI suspected Tony “The Ant” Spilotro in 22 murders. This information and more was obtained through the FBI’s inquiry called “Operation Family Secrets.” Not only were several mobsters indicted, but two former Chicago police officers were also included.

Anthony Doyle was a former officer included in the indictment. Doyle worked as a counterintelligence officer for the Mafia and kept the mob bosses informed of various investigations. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.


The other officer indicted was Michael Ricci. Ricci was convicted of passing information for the imprisoned mob boss, Frank Calabrese, SR.
During this investigation, officials learned the true story of what happened to the Spilotro brothers. The two men were lured to a house in Bensenville, IL, under the pretense of making Michael a made man. Once the brothers entered the basement, they were beaten to death and taken to the cornfield.


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Further Reading:

Chicago Tribune


Recommended Reading:

There have been several books written on Tony Spilotro. Here are a couple of them.


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Mobster Monday – Stefano “Steve the Truck Driver” Vitabile

Photo courtesy of Mafia Wiki

The New Jersey mobster who once killed his boss for being bisexual was released from prison in 2013. He served as consigliere for three decades before being ratted out by his cohorts. Where is Stefano “Steve the Truck Driver” Vitabile now? 


Stefano Vitabile joined the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family as an associate in the early 1970s and would rise in the ranks until he reached the rank of consigliere. He would hold this position for a staggering thirty-five years. Steve The Truck Driver started out as a soldier in a crew ran by Giovanni Riggi. When the family boss, Sam DeCavalcante retired to Florida, Riggi was promoted to boss. Vitabile became consigliere and Girolamo Palermo became the capo. This hierarchy would stand for the next fifteen years. 

In 1990, Riggi was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 15 years in prison. This shook up the long-standing organization and ended up seeing Gaetano Vastola becoming the “acting boss,” but the consigliere remained Vitabile. This wouldn’t last a year before Vastola was convicted of extortion and sent away. This time John D’Amato was named acting boss. There was one problem with this, however. 

Although the acting boss was constantly being changed, one thing remained the same. Stefano Vitabile remained in his position as consigliere. When rumors began to fly about the new acting boss, it would be Vitabile who would call for a hit. D’Amato’s girlfriend had revealed a grave secret about the new boss. D’Amato was a bisexual male and this would not be allowed in La Cosa Nostra. The New Jersey mafia already had an inferiority complex when it came to the big New York families. How would it look to the big dogs if New Jersey had a gay mob boss? Vitabile decided D’Amato had to go. 

After D’Amato’s death, Giacomo Amari was named as acting boss, but this was also doomed to failure. Amari came down with stomach cancer became disabled to the point that he could no longer run the family. In a desperate attempt to end the constant upheaval, Vitabile got permission from Risso to completely restructure the family.

Vitabile named three captains to rule on a committee. This committee would work together as the acting boss of the family. Their consigliere would remain the same. The three capos were Vincent Palermo, Charles “Big Ears” Majuri, and Girolamo Palermo. This sounded like a good idea, but in reality, there was a future rat among them. 

In June 2003, the Decavalcante family was hit hard by law enforcement and mobsters started turning stool pigeons right and left. Vincent Palermo would turn state’s evidence and testify against the family. Up until this point, Vitabile hadn’t been in the limelight. He always stayed in the shadows and law enforcement bypassed him. 

After a seven-week trial, StefanoVitabile and two capos were convicted of racketeering charges and murder. He was convicted of four murders including D’Amato. Vitabile received life in prison on October 17, 2003. Five years later he would win the right to a new trial due to some technical errors in the trial. Vitabile would be released from prison in 2013.

Where is he now? That’s a good question. He’s sort of fallen off the map. Is he dead? Is he keeping a low profile? Is he still consigliere? I guess time will tell.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Further Reading:

Caselaw.com

U.S. District Attorney Press Release

Mafia Wiki


Recommended Reading: Books About The New Jersey Mafia


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


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