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KCTV5 special report explores Kansas City's mob history

By Dave Jordan, News Reporter
By DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager



Kansas City's dangerous and thrilling mob history remains intriguing to many and interest is only growing with the debut of CBS' new hit show, Vegas.

The Italian mafia is often the subject of movies, documentaries and books, and the new television show, which is set in the 1960s, has made several references to Missouri's mob past.

During the Oct. 2 episode, a suspect facing questioning blurts out, "When the boys from the Show Me State show me a case full of greenbacks and a Colt .45, I don't ask questions."

Three decades earlier, the nation was asking numerous questions after a mass murder in Kansas City on June 17, 1933. The murder was committed in front of Union Station, killing four law enforcement officers and their prisoner, Frank Nash. It became known as the Kansas City Massacre.

Many tourists still come to Union Station to see the site where five died in a hail of bullets. Tours of famous Kansas City mob sites remain popular.

"We sell out every Saturday," said Mike Sinatra, owner of Carey Tours. "For every 100 calls we get, 95 of them want to go on the gangster tour."

Local actor Tim Phillips portrays fictional mobster Johnny Holliday on Carey Tours' mobster excursion.

"The mob realized this was where we're going to make a lot of money," Phillips said. "Vegas was the wide open town of its era so you had the Chicago, the New York and, of course, the Kansas City mob involved in Las Vegas."

Phillips took KCTV5's Dave Jordan on a tour of some of the popular mob spots during the glory years of the gangster area. The first stop was Columbus Park, which still wears its Italian heritage proudly.

"This area around here was where some of the mobsters were living and doing business who had money coming down from the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas," Phillips said, one of three re-enactors for Carey Tours.

A restaurant, Jennie's Italian, served as the backdrop for many secret deals. The Vegas-Kansas City Mafia connection remained strong for decades. Al Capone even threw parties in Kansas City that Frank Sinatra and Librace attended.

Phillips reenacted the scene of the famous hit that took the life of mobster Johnny Lazio back in 1934 on Armour Boulevard.

"And he was just riddled with bullets until he falls down dead on the ground," Phillips demonstrated.

More people are expected to see this re-enactment with fictional mobsters and lawmen on Vegas name dropping Kansas City and Missouri or go to Union Station to see the bullet holes from the mob shootout.



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