Wednesday, May 23, 1979 | 6 a.m.
FBI affidavits released Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Harry Claiborne alleged proof of hidden ownership, fraud in the sale of securities, racketeering, distribution of funds gained by illegal activity and conspiracy on the part of Tropicana Hotel and Casino showroom producer Joseph Agosto and top figures in Kansas City organized crime.
The more than 300 pages comprising two affidavits by FBI Special Agent Thomas R. Parker in Las Vegas supported five search warrants executed on Agosto's home and office last Feb. 15 seeking evidence of hidden ownership in the Strip resort.
The affidavits linked Agosto to Kansas City mob figures and claimed to prove that Agosto is in "day-to-day management of the Tropicana Hotel and Casino, even though he publicly denies same."
Parker wrote in the affidavits that wiretap surveillance and physical evidence indicate Agosto is involved in negotiations to acquire control of the Argent Corp. for a Kansas City organized crime family.
The affidavits also claimed to prove that Agosto and Deil Gustafson, who owns Consolidated Financial Corp., which in turn owns Tropicana Holding Co., have "devised and implemented a scheme to artificially and illegally inflate the market price of publicly-traded stock of the Eldorado International Inc. at a time when that corporation and the Tropicana were in the process of merging.
A significant portion of the management of the Tropicana was done by Agosto from his home at 4550 S. Pecos Road, the affidavits said. Wire taps on Agosto's home telephone provided some of the evidence presented in the affidavits, the documents explained.
Among those named in the affidavits as individuals whose activities were monitored by wiretaps were Nick Civella, identified as the number one man in the Kansas City mob; Carl DeLune, pegged as second in command of Kansas City organized crime; Carl Civella, brother of Nick and a ranking crime figure in Kansas City; Frank Rosenthal, former entertainment director of Argent's Stardust Hotel; Ed and Fred Doumani, who are in the midst of negotiating a lease with option to buy of Argent's Las Vegas properties, the Stardust and Fremont hotel-casinos; Mitzi Briggs, major stockholder in the Tropicana Holding Co.; Gustafson, a Minneapolis banker and businessman; and several Tropicana employees.
Kansas City organized crime bosses were also named in the affidavits used to support search warrants executed in Kansas City at the same time as the Las Vegas raid.
Claiborne had sealed the affidavits after the raid by more than a dozen FBI and state gaming agents, but ordered the documents unsealed Monday on a motion by Joseph V. Agosto Production and Leasing Inc.
No sooner had the judge ordered the affidavits opened than Geoffrey Anderson of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force filed a motion asking the unsealing order to be stayed, citing jeopardy to the continuing investigation if the documents were open.
Claiborne denied the motion early Tuesday morning while the affidavits were being copied, then ordered a 24-hour stay, giving the strike force attorneys until noon Wednesday to appeal the matter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco, Calif. before opening the affidavits.
Several reporters, however, already had the affidavits in their possession, and at least one defense attorney had obtained a copy.
The reporters were allowed to continue reading the documents, but the judge ordered they be returned and not further distributed.
Parker said the Las Vegas strike force office would send an attorney to San Francisco Tuesday night to appeal the matter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday morning, within Claiborne's 24-hours stay.
Agosto was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.