citroIt’s never been done before, but there’s always a first time: a 68-year-old Las Vegas man with numerous felony convictions who did a two-year stint in the Federal pen for illegal bookmaking and loansharking now wants his name cleared off of the infamous so-called “Black Book” that is kept by Nevada’s Gaming Control Board (GCB).

Yup, Francis Citro, aka “Little Frankie” on his Gaming Control Board rap sheet, wants his name cleared off of the document that prevents him from owning, managing or even entering a casino; even the latter could lead to a re-arrest, and Citro swore after his 1985 conviction that took him to the joint and away from his then one-year-old son that he would never do time again. So far, he’s kept good on that word.

Blackballed by the Black Book

Created in 1960, this slim book with only 35 active names in it pinpoints who the Control Board considers the most notorious and deleterious of the gambling underworld; not surprisingly, given Vegas’ history, many are mobsters and Italian-American in heritage. Citro, who fits both profiles, does the classic “best defense is a good offense” move and says the book discriminates against his people. Yep, all 35 of them with rap sheets a mile long: call the ACLU. In fact, infamous gangster Tony Spilatro, who was brought to life again by Joe Pesci in the classic film “Casino” and represented in real life by then defense attorney and later colorful Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, was on the list until after his beating death in 1986.

Depending on you who talk to, the book is either an outdated GCB entity from the days when Nevada realized they better do better at keeping organized crime at bay (since the early ’50s with the Kefauver hearings, the Feds had been keeping a close tab on organized crime’s Vegas connections); or a still necessary tool to eliminate the worst of the worst from being able to partake in any way in the legalized gambling industry in the Silver State.

Under current Nevada state gaming law, anyone who has a prior felony conviction can be placed in the Black Book, as well as anyone who’s committed a crime involving “moral turpitude” (possibly the greatest legal term ever) or violated any gaming laws in any other state. Also, those who have failed to disclose an interest (i.e., some form of ownership) in a gaming establishment, anyone who has willfully evaded paying taxes or fees, or anyone with a “notorious or unsavory” reputation established via state or federal investigations.

No Precedent

No one before Citro has ever requested to be removed from the book; the only way to get removed up till now has been to kick the bucket. And looking at Citro’s past performance with the Gaming Board, we’re not sure his chances look dazzling right now either.  Citro last appeared in front of the Board in 1990, and came dressed in a tuxedo, in a gesture that could only have been perceived as mocking.  And apparently, that lingering memory still stains him.

“For someone to come forward after so many years on the book, that’s something that’s never been tried before,” said James Taylor, deputy chief of the GCB’s enforcement division. Despite a fairly clean (by mobster standards) lifestyle since he got out of the joint, Citro ‘s post-prison ventures have ranged from bar and strip club manager to plumber and carpenter.  “Even today, I don’t know if we’d still want Frank Citro frequenting our casinos,” said Taylor.

Suggestion, Little Frankie: leave the tux at home this time.