I-Team Report: The Vegas Vendetta
October 5, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A museum that was supposed to showcase Chicago mob history is now embroiled in a gangland-style legal war, complete with missing money, allegations of violence and some of Chicago's most famous mob names claiming they've been swindled.
The new Mob Experience museum opened in Las Vegas last winter with shakedowns, looting, theft, deception and threats of violence. And those were just in the management of the museum, according to a series of lawsuits filed by and against owners, investors and Chicago mob family members hired as special consultants.
in the Tropicana Hotel bought personal memorabilia from the relatives of top Chicago hoodlums to put on display. From greeting cards to guns and family photos to films, the home movie of notorious Chicago Outfit boss Tony Spilotro among the items.
Spilotro's son, Vincent, sold his family's items to the museum for $125,000.
"These people are gonna protect it. It's gonna be displayed in a manner that's a little more classy," Vincent Spilotro told the I-Team in February.
But things have changed since then. The Mob Experience has been marred by Outfit relatives claiming they haven't been paid and allegations that attraction developer Jay Bloom siphoned millions dollars before turning the Mob Experience over to new operators. Bloom denies that and charges the new owners with stealing funds and memorabilia, something they deny.
Lawsuits and countersuits filed in Las Vegas are attempting to sort out ownership and who did what.
In an affidavit, Vince Spilotro states that last summer the new management stopped paying his $5,000 a month consulting fee. Spilotro says he had a meeting with new manager Louis Ventre. According to the affidavit, after meeting with Spilotro Ventre was said to be "in fear for his life," although both men now say there were no threats.
As the claims and counterclaims play out, the Mob Experience itself staggers on, with all interactive exhibits closed for remodeling but other parts of the attraction open.
In court documents, the current management Team-Vion Operations vigorously denies any wrongdoing. A Clark County judge has now appointed a special accountant to oversee finances for the Mob Experience attraction.
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