Las Vegas Sun

October 2, 2014

Spilotro released on bail

Reputed mobster Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro posted a $75,000 bond Wednesday, after surrendering to the FBI on a nine-count federal racketeering indictment.

Spilotro identified by the FBI as the Chicago mob's overseer in Las Vegas and three associates were accused of running illegal enterprises out of his West Sahara Avenue jewelry store, Gold rush Ltd.

Also named were:

-Jon Spilotro, Anthony's 39-year-old brother who operates Gold Rush Ltd., 228 W. Sahara Ave.

-Herbert Blitzstein , 47, a former partner in the Gold Rush and a close friend of the Spilotro family.

-Joseph Blasko, 45, a former Metro detective described by law enforcement sources as a messenger for Spilotro.

The four men used the Gold Rush to deal in stolen gems and jewelry, conduct an illegal racehorse bookmaking operation and thwart various criminal investigations through Blasko's influence on Metro's Organized Crime Task Force, the indictment charged.

All but Blasko, fired form the police department in 1978, could face 70 years in prison and $68,000 fines each if convicted on all nine counts in the indictment. Blasko, named in four counts, faces a maximum 35-year jail term and $28,000 fine.

"After three years of fighting shadows, we finally have the opportunity to face our accuser, and we look forward to it," said Anthony's attorney, Oscar Goodman.

The sealed indictment was returned late Tuesday by a special federal grand jury that had been hearting evidence this week in the three-year Spilotro racketeering probe. FBI agents conducted a massive raid on the Spilotro organization in June 1978.

The indictment was made public Wednesday morning after the Spilotro brothers and Blasko surrendered to the FBI.

All three men, scheduled to be arraigned July 24, posted the required 10 percent of their bonds about 1:30 p.m. and were freed following five hours in federal custody and two hearings before U.S. Magistrate Philip M. Pro. Bail was set at $75,000 for Anthony Spilotro and Blasko and $50,000 for John Spilotro.

Pro also ordered all three men to surrender their passports, report to the U.S. Marshal every Friday, and restrict their travel to Nevada except for Willow Beach in Arizona and parts of Southern Utah, where all three men said they wanted to go fishing.

Los Angeles Strike Force attorney Charles Wehner told Pro that Anthony Spilotro had obtained a passport three years ago, shortly after the FBI raid.

Blitzstein was not present because he was being held in a federal prison in San Diego, where he was jailed last month for refusing to cooperate in the Spilotro probe.

U.S. District Judge Harry E. Claiborne, who has been assigned the Spilotro case, ordered Blitzstein released from federal custody because the government said that it no longer needed his testimony now that the indictment was returned. Blitzstein now must face the charges in Las Vegas.

While the Spilotros were in custody, FBI agents, acting on an order form Claiborne, used a crowbar to break into the Gold Rush and had to drill holes in safes to inventory jewelry items.

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