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VIDEO VAULT | 1980s mob hits in Los Angeles had ties to Las Vegas casino dealings

Carlos Fandino.jpg

Organized crime has an unfortunate history in Las Vegas. There are plenty of stories from the early 80s in the Channel 3 archives with familiar names like Spilotro, Rosenthal, Cullotta and more.

Los Angeles saw some mob hits around the same time. When their local NBC affiliate looked into it, the story led here.

"On the surface, you can't see much of a connection between Las Vegas and Los Angeles," reported KNBC's Warren Wilson in 1981. "But we've found there's a strong connection. One of deadly violence and organized crime."

"This is the Las Vegas Strip, any night," came Wilson's voice over a shot of the Flamingo, which was part of the Hilton chain and had only one tower at the time. "It's glamorous, it's fast... it's fun city. Glamorous showgirls, money, promises of riches all combine to attract all kinds of people. Then there's a darker side. That too attracts all kinds of people. People with roots in Los Angles like Carlos Fandino, Jerry Farula, Tony Albanese."

Tony Albanese had been operating the Crazy Horse Topless Saloon in Paradise Market at the northeast corner of Paradise and Flamingo when he disappeared in early 1981. His head--minus body--was found a few weeks later in the desert near Needles, California.

Carlos Fandino fared no better.

"The wealthy Hollywood/Las Vegas businessman was found shot to death here in Los Angeles in his car, one month before," reported Wilson. "We've learned that Fandino had come out on top in a battle with former partners over who was to manage and control their concessions at Circus-Circus."

Las Vegas crime associate Jack Gordon along with Jerry Ferula had flown into Los Angeles to visit Fandino. There was speculation that the meeting resulted in Fandino's death.

"From his posh home in Beverly Hills, Gordon denies he had anything to do with it," said Wilson. "But Ferulo can't deny it. His body was found in a plastic bag just a few yards from his Las Vegas home."

Oddly, Ferula's shoes had been stolen.

"Does not make sense," Ferula's son told KNBC. "Maybe that stood for something or was supposed to symbolize something."

"We've learned that Ferula had a violent argument earlier in the day, with a man known only as Francois, an alleged cocaine dealer," reported Wilson in front of the Maxim Hotel--now the Westin Causerina--on East Flamingo. "Leaving behind a complex of businesses in Las Vegas known to be the target of crooks from the midwest. Los Angles police also believe now, that organized crime has come to Los Angeles from the Midwest, via the Vegas route."

The murders of Carlos Fandino, Tony Albanese and Jerry Ferula were never solved.

Reporter Warren Wilson retired from KNBC in 2005 at age 69.

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