Las Vegas Reporter’s Stories About ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal Featured on Media Website

Posted on: March 21, 2021, 02:23h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2021, 02:14h.

A website featuring mysteries and true crime now includes reporter George Knapp’s original Las Vegas television news stories on casino operator and Mob associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.

George Knapp
Veteran Las Vegas reporter George Knapp discusses the Mystery Wire website during a broadcast. The website includes Knapp’s reporting on the Mob, UFOs, and more. (Image: KLAS-TV)

Knapp, a veteran investigative reporter at KLAS-TV, oversees the Mystery Wire website for Nexstar Media Group. Nexstar owns the Las Vegas CBS affiliate and 197 other stations around the country. Knapp also hosts the national radio show Coast to Coast AM on some weekends. 

Knapp’s reporting on Rosenthal popped up on the Mystery Wire site earlier in March. It includes interviews with Rosenthal and footage from The Frank Rosenthal Show, which he hosted from the Stardust Casino. His guests included Frank Sinatra and other celebrities. 

Knapp’s stories include footage showing Rosenthal’s wife, Geri, a former Tropicana Casino showgirl, and Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. Spilotro was the Chicago Outfit’s representative in Las Vegas. He and his brother, Michael, were killed in a 1986 Mob beating. They were buried in an Indiana cornfield.

The Rosenthals’ volatile marriage, and Geri’s romantic relationship with Tony Spilotro, are at the center of New York-based author Nicholas Pileggi’s nonfiction book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Pileggi and director Martin Scorsese cowrote the 1995 Mafia movie Casino, based on the book.

In the movie, Robert De Niro plays a Rosenthal-inspired character, with Sharon Stone as his wife. Joe Pesci portrays a character based on Spilotro.

Rosenthal oversaw the Stardust and three other Las Vegas casinos for Midwestern crime families. He survived a car bombing in 1982 outside a Las Vegas Tony Roma’s restaurant and later moved to South Florida. He died of a heart attack in Florida in 2008 at age 79. 

A month after the car bombing, Geri Rosenthal died in Southern California at age 46 of an apparent overdose.

The Mystery Wire site also includes video of the 2007 Stardust implosion. That location on the Strip now is occupied by the under-construction Resorts World Las Vegas. 

Gaming Commission Spat

In his original reporting, Knapp notes that Rosenthal did not speculate about who might have blown up his car, other than to say it was not the Boy Scouts of America. No one has ever been held criminally responsible for the bombing.

A sit-down interview that an unnamed reporter conducted in Florida with Rosenthal also is on the Mystery Wire site. In that interview, Rosenthal says organized crime existed in Las Vegas when he was there. He adds that he knew who those approximately 20 people were.

“They were comprised of the Gaming Control Board, the Gaming Commission, all appointed officials, maybe one or two county commissioners, maybe two local judges, and possibly one Supreme Court justice,” Rosenthal says.

He says those people “controlled everything that went on within that state.”

That’s what I consider to be the real organized crime element,” he says.

Rosenthal’s battles with gaming regulators included a public confrontation with former US Sen. Harry Reid (D), who was Gaming Commission chairman at the time. That incident was dramatized in the movie.

Former Mayor To Honor Movie 

Rosenthal’s attorney, Oscar Goodman, a former Las Vegas mayor, is hosting a dinner on April 7 at Oscar’s Steakhouse in downtown Las Vegas in honor of the movie Casino. The restaurant at the Plaza Hotel Casino is named after Goodman.

Goodman will discuss his experiences with the movie, including a dinner at his home that he and his wife, Carolyn, hosted for the stars. Carolyn Goodman is the current Las Vegas mayor.