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September 17, 2014

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Tropicana’s Mob Experience defending against additional lawsuits

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Steve Marcus

Visitors are seen at the Mob Experience at the Tropicana on Tuesday, March 1, 2011.

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Real-life conspiracy and fraud allegations in the form of additional lawsuits are lurking behind the scenes of the newly-opened $25 million Mob Experience attraction at the Tropicana hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Besides the lawsuit filed against Mob Experience developer Jay Bloom by mob daughter and former Experience spokeswoman Antoinette Giancana, two more suits by lender/investors alleging similar claims of unkept promises and unpaid bills are pending against Bloom and codefendants in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas.

Bloom, however, said Friday he doesn't expect the lawsuits will materialize into much.

"The Experience is up and running," Bloom said. "They're (the lawsuits) related. There's nothing out there that would affect the operations or the company."

On Oct. 11, well before Giancana made headlines by suing Bloom, local investor James G. Beckmann had sued Bloom and several codefendants alleging that "through an elaborate scheme of deception and misrepresentation, defendant Bloom orchestrated a plan to defraud Beckmann of hundreds of thousands of dollars and to maliciously cut Beckmann out of a potentially profitable business that he had helped build and develop."

Bloom's codefendants in that case are Louis Ventre, Michael Unger, Jekyll and Hyde Las Vegas LLC (J&H), the Mafia Collection LLC and Eagle Group Holdings LLC.

The suit alleges Beckmann began assisting Bloom with developing the concept for the Mob Experience and its parent company Murder Inc. in 2008 and that many of the artifacts and memorabilia for the exhibit were secured by Beckmann.

"The plan was to capitalize on the recent popularity of organized crime-related television shows and movies that were experiencing great commercial success at this time by staging a permanent exhibit of organized crime artifacts on the Las Vegas Strip," his lawsuit says.

The suit says that by late 2008 Beckmann and Bloom had agreed the two would be equal partners in Murder Inc. and that after Beckmann invested hundreds of thousands of dollars "and countless hours" in developing the Mob Experience, Bloom ceased all communications with him and now claims Beckmann has no ownership interest in either Murder Inc. or the artifacts Beckmann says he secured for the Mob Experience.

The suit says that with Bloom unable to come up with cash to develop the business, Beckmann made a capital contribution of $110,000, another contribution of $125,000 for artifacts held by a California collector including guns and other memorabilia owned by Bugsy Siegel, Mickey Cohen and Tony Spilotro, among others; and another $10,000 for artifacts involving Meyer Lansky.

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Jay Bloom, managing partner of the Las Vegas Mob Experience, poses in a prison bus at the Tropicana Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The $25 million Mob Experience will officially open March 29. The bus was originally to provide transportation to the experience but will instead be converted into a ticket booth, Bloom said.

The lawsuit says Bloom and Beckmann agreed that based on his payments for artifacts and to Bloom's creditors, Beckmann would be credited with a $265,000 capital contribution for a 50 percent stake in Murder Inc.

Later, the suit charges, Bloom and codefendants defrauded him out of his equity interest in Murder Inc. and ownership of the artifacts.

The suit says that in March 2009, Bloom, Ventre and Unger established Murder Inc. with the Nevada Secretary of State reflecting each as a managing member.

Even before the alleged Mob Experience investments by Beckmann, Beckmann said in the suit that as early as 2007 he had loaned money to Bloom and J&H or paid certain creditors on their behalf.

In one such instance in or around October 2007, he said he provided $250,000 to be used to pay Exotic Cars, a creditor of J&H and that Bloom and J&H agreed to repay him with interest.

In another instance in November 2007, Beckmann said he loaned Bloom and J&H $35,000 to cover "certain expenses" and that Bloom agreed Beckmann would be repaid with interest.

Beckmann provided $200,000 to Bloom under another arrangement -- money that would be used to pay certain creditors of J&H, the suit says.

"Rather than use the funds to pay off J&H's creditors, Bloom absconded with the money and used it for his own personal expenses," the suit charges, adding Bloom had agreed to repay the money to Beckmann.

"Beckmann has demanded repayment for all of these amounts loaned to Bloom and/or J&H, plus interest, but Bloom and J&H have failed and refused to pay these amounts to Beckmann," the suit charges.

The suit asserts claims including fraud against Bloom; and conspiracy, conversion and fraudulent transfer against all the defendants.

The lawsuit was filed for Beckmann by Las Vegas attorney Todd Bice of the law firm Pisanelli Bice.

Click to enlarge photo

A prohibition-era "gangster" gives instructions to Sergio Tamez, left, and Candice Rodriguez in the back of a speakeasy during a preview of the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The $25 million Mob Experience will officially open March 29.

Represented by Las Vegas attorney Paul Gaudet, Bloom, Ventre, Unger, the Mafia Collection and Eagle Group Holdings denied these allegations, saying in court papers that Beckmann "comes before the court with unclean hands" and that his claims are prohibited by the statute of frauds.

Their response said that Beckmann provided consulting services to Bloom "regarding ongoing projects" and that he made loans to J&H and for purchasing artifacts. However, the response says Beckmann didn't secure any artifacts or memorabilia for use in the Mob Experience.

In a third lawsuit filed Jan. 31, another local investor, Ralph Buzzetta, alleges breach of contract, fraud, conversion and other counts against Bloom, Murder Inc. and J&H.

That suit was filed by attorney Ihab Omar, who also represents Giancana.

Buzzetta alleges in the complaint that in February 2009 he loaned the defendants $50,000 and that the same month Murder Inc. provided Buzzetta a promissory or investment-type note for the loan for $60,000.

The $60,000 note matured on Feb. 28, 2010, with $70,800 owed including interest, but was not repaid, the suit alleges.

The suit also claims the convertible investment note was a "securities instrument" under Nevada law and that it included "irregularities and misrepresentations beginning with the fact that Murder Inc. is not a Nevada corporation as purported in the note but is, in fact, a Nevada domestic limited liability company as evidenced by its filings with the Nevada Secretary of State."

"Bloom knowingly misrepresented the Nevada limited liability company as a corporation," the suit charges.

The suit alleges the note was an unregistered security and the lawsuit notes that the sale of unregistered securities is a violation of state law.

"Plaintiff was deceived by defendants to invest in defendants' scheme," the suit charges.

Gaudet, the attorney, was unavailable to comment on that lawsuit. Bloom said Friday he couldn't comment on the specifics of pending litigation.

Finally, attorneys for Bloom have not yet answered the Feb. 23 suit filed by Giancana seeking at least $80,000 in damages.

That suit alleges breach of contract involving a consulting agreement valued at about $286,000 and the sale of some of her father's furnishings and other belongings for $22,300.

(The Sun is involved in a cross-promotional agreement with the attraction in which it shares photo and video content in exchange for brand placement.)

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