VIDEO VAULT | 35 years later, looking back to the murder of mob financier Allen Dorfman

Allen Dorfman 1983 (KSNV file)

The most accurate Hollywood portrayal of organized crime in Las Vegas during the '70s and early '80s has to be Martin Scorsese’s "Casino", and over the years, the Video Vault has compared many of the central scenes in the movie to what actually happened.

Even the minor roles were based on reality, such as comedian Alan King's portrayal of organized crime money man Andy Stone. The way his character was taken out is very much like what happened 35 years ago this month to mob financier Allen Dorfman.

"According to police, Dorfman and a business associate, Irwin Weiner were on their way to lunch at a suburban Chicago hotel," reported NBC's Jim Cummins on Jan. 21, 1983. "Two men approached them in a parking lot and yelled, ‘This is a stickup.' One of them drew a 22-caliber pistol and shot Dorfman several times in the head, killing him."

Dorfman's companion was known to police too, according to News 3 Reporter Holly Echols.

"Weiner is an alleged money man for the mob," she explained. "He was once tried for fraud along with Dorfman and reputed Las Vegas mobster Anthony Spilotro. All three men were acquitted after a key government witness was killed."

But Dorfman had been convicted along with Teamsters President Roy Williams of attempting—unsuccessfully—to bribe Nevada Senator Howard Cannon on a trucking bill. Former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, whose control of the pension fund helped build Caesars Palace and other casinos and had disappeared without a trace in 1975, had also been a close associate of Dorfman’s.

Author Stephen Brill, who would go on to found Court TV (now TruTV), had studied Dorfman's career.

"There was a legitimate worry that he might talk about Hoffa murder or anything else having to do with the Teamsters and organized crime," Brill told NBC.

After a few days, there seemed to be some progress in the Dorfman investigation.

"Officials are working with two sketches," said Echols. "One of Alan Dorfman's suspected killer, and a sketch of the man seen driving the getaway car.

"The Chicago Sun-Times reports that two underworld crime figures are prime suspects," reported CNN's Jerry Levin. "Anthony Panzica and Frank Schwiehs. According to the Sun-Times, federal investigators say that the two are ruthless hit men, master jewel thieves, and masters of disguise. They think there is some resemblance between them and the two men in FBI drawings eyewitnesses say are the bearded man who did the shooting, and the clean-shaven man who drove the getaway car."

Frank "The German" Schweihs would many, many years later be implicated but not convicted in the 1986 murder of Tony Spilotro. He and Panzica were never charged with Dorfman's death. The only thing clear about the hit was the motivation.

"The outfit killed Mr. Dorfman for the simple reason of the names that he could give law enforcement both in the organized crime field, politicians at every level. Plus, businesses that dealt with him on a legitimate and illegitimate basis," said the Chicago Crime Commission’s Patrick Healy.

The Dorfman murder was never solved, but as lightly fictionalized in the movie "Casino", the mob's control of the Las Vegas skim was already falling apart. It was largely over by the mid-80s with most of the suspects either dead, flipped for the prosecution, in prison, or leaving Las Vegas for good.

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