The lawsuit over control of the Las Vegas Mob Experience has grown more bizarre, with new charges that the Mob Experience manager feared for his life after a notorious gangster’s son demanded return of his father’s artifacts.
Jay Bloom, developer of the tourist attraction, is headed for a showdown in court Friday with Experience creditors.
The creditors charge Bloom looted the company before he signed away most of his equity in the Experience this summer – but Bloom says he still owns the company, that the current manager is in cahoots with certain creditors and that the manager and those creditors are the ones looting the company.
Friday’s hearing was called in Clark County District Court so Bloom could press his request that the current manager, Louis Ventre, be replaced with a neutral third party manager selected by Mob Experience secured creditors.
At the same time, creditors Vion Operations LLC and Strategic Funding Source Inc. – which are aligned with Ventre – will press their request that a special master be appointed to conduct a complete review of the Mob Experience books and that Bloom be ordered to stop claiming he owns a substantial part of Murder Inc., the parent company of the Experience at the Tropicana resort.
In their latest legal filing on Wednesday, Bloom and his attorney again denied that Bloom had hijacked the Mob Experience website, saying it was Ventre who was responsible for nonpayment of the web hosting company’s fee.
They also said Vion and Strategic Funding had submitted a "fabricated" email to the court as an exhibit attacking Bloom’s choice of a third party to manage the Experience.
Most interestingly, Bloom’s new filing says that in an email, "it appears Ventre indicated he was in fear for his life."
This related to efforts by Vincent Spilotro, son of Anthony Spilotro, to retrieve some of his father’s artifacts from the Mob Experience and to get paid as a Mob Experience consultant.
In an affidavit signed Monday in which Spilotro sides with Bloom in the dispute, Spilotro says that in December he sold some of his father’s artifacts to a Bloom company called The Mafia Collection for $125,000 with $62,500 down – and also was retained as a consultant that month and was to be paid $5,000 per month by the Mob Experience’s parent company Murder Inc.
Spilotro says in the affidavit he agreed to defer the payment of the $62,500 owed for the artifacts until The Mafia Collection was in a position to make that payment.
The affidavit says that after Ventre took over the Mob Experience in July, Murder Inc. stopped paying his consulting fee and that Ventre repeatedly promised to pay him but failed to do so.
Spilotro said in the document that during the past three months, he’s been paid only 10 percent of what’s due him.
Spilotro said that in August, Ventre told him to drive in from California and that he would be paid $1,500 plus receive certain artifacts – but when he arrived Ventre failed to pay him.
The affidavit says the Mob Experience offered him artifacts belonging to The Mafia Collection in lieu of consulting payments.
Spilotro says he took the items and listed them for sale on eBay, but then removed them from eBay upon learning "Ventre did not have the authority to distribute the Mafia Collection artifacts in satisfaction of Murder Inc.’s debt."
"I further learned that Ventre indicated to GC Global Capital (a creditor) that he was `in fear for his life.’ Such a position is absurd and, in fact, on the day I was there with my wife, I was there for hours socializing with Lou and the employees," Spilotro said in the affidavit.
This supposed threat to Ventre appeared to come from an email to Ventre indicating Vincent Spilotro was "becoming extremely aggressive in his demands."
Spilotro’s father – who was killed in a brutal mob beating and buried an Indiana corn field – was immortalized in the movie Casino by Joe Pesci as Nicky Santoro, the sidekick to casino boss Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert De Niro).
Any suggestion Ventre was threatened is false, Bloom’s court filing said.
"Spilotro, his wife and cousin drove in from California and spent hours with Ventre and the staff socializing and no threat was made to Ventre," Bloom’s filing said. "Not only did Ventre lie about being threatened, but Ventre also lied to Spilotro about his intent to pay him and about having the authority to disperse Mafia Collection artifacts."
Ventre, however, denied in an interview today that anyone has threatened him.
"I’ve never been in fear for my life – not from Vincent Spilotro or anyone," Ventre said.
The bottom line is that for the Mob Experience, which remains open at the Tropicana despite the legal turmoil, Wednesday was business as usual.
That is, it was just another day of Bloom and Mob Experience creditors accusing each other of misrepresentations and looting the business.