Feature Articles

May 2001

The Ant

By John William Tuohy

     Tiny Tony Spilotro got into the mob largely because his father ran an old style Italian restaurant frequented by Paul Ricca and the older, powerful mob bosses. Ricca and the others took young Spilotro under their wings and corrupted him. While he was barely out of his teens, the ambitious Spilotro was hand-picked by Sam Giancana to become an enforcer for his old friend "Mad Sam" DeStefano, an insane killer and juice lender.

     In the late 1960s, just after he shotgunned his boss Mad Sam to death, on orders from above, the bosses sent Tony out west to Vegas as their representative to the casinos. In effect he was the most powerful hood in the country, west of Chicago.

     But, where the past, Vegas Enforcers only killed when ordered, Spilotro seemed to solve every problem by murder. The FBI suspected Tony of no less than 25 murders while he was Chicago's man in Vegas.

     Then, in the early 1980s, five men from Tony's crew became government witnesses and testified against big shots back home like Aiuppa and Cerone. Spilotro himself was indicted in Nevada for heading a burglary ring within Las Vegas city limits, a serious violation of mob rules and for having an affair with the outfit's man inside the Stardust, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal.

     At first, the bosses figured they would punish Spilotro with a demotion. Then he tried to blow Rosenthal up, in the middle of Vegas and there were rumors that the Ant was doing too much cocaine and was thinking about flipping over to the FBI.

     Tony and his brother, Michael, were last seen the afternoon of June 14, 1986, when they left Michael Spilotro's Oak Park home to run an errand. It is believed that Sam "Wings" Carlisi, ordered Michael, or Micky as he was called, to bring his brother out to the Indian cornfield where they were both killed.

     Several days after they left home, the partially clad bodies of the two brothers were unearthed from a five-foot grave in a cornfield a hundred yards off the main road near Morocco, Indiana. They had been beaten, kicked, stomped and presumably buried alive by their assailants. While it is commonly assumed that Micky Spilotro was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the fact is, that he had been in training under his brother, who was grooming him to take his place in Vegas as the Outside man.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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