HARRY: Money Mob & Influence In Harry Reid’s Nevada
by Daxton Brown
Where Reid’s Money Came From
By Daxton Brown
Doing a book report on myself, either I have fabricated a salacious expose from whole-cloth and Harry Reid is an absolute Saint, or he is among the most corrupt whorehouse politicians the U.S. has ever faced (and I use whorehouse literally, not figuratively) taking money from every mark he could find. Everything I have researched about Harry Mason Reid points to such massive corruption that if only a small percentage of what I and others have unearthed is true, Senator Reid makes Charlie Rangel look like a choirboy.
The money shot is that in the early 90s I had worked with a gentleman named Don Williams, a well known and respected (sometimes feared) Democratic political consultant in Nevada who had run Harry Reid’s early campaigns from 1965 (Hospital board) through 1968 (State Assembly), 1970 (Lieutenant Governor) and finally a defeat in 1974 for Senate against Senator Paul Laxalt. When I started to write my book on Reid in the middle of 2009, I of course immediately called Don and asked if he had any stories about Reid. Don had a haymaker:
I was in Reno during the (1970) Lt Governor’s race and Harry called and said to go down to the River House (casino), and see Joe Conforte. I was interested in Conforte, because at that time he was bringing in San Francisco pollsters during the elections. He hired polling outfits, which was pretty unusual considering he was a well known pimp. We were able to get one big poll. I had run races where pollsters made lots money off us, but Conforte’s polls were better. Conforte looks like a Damon Runyon pimp. We hit it off pretty well. George Knapp (Channel 8 Reporter) did a report on him recently down in Brazil, Conforte doesn’t look like he’s aged at all.
Well Conforte says to me, “I want you give this to Harry Reid.” And he hands me a big fat envelope. One time Conforte took me to this double-wide trailer. It was pretty opulent and attached by a secret door to the Mustang Ranch Conforte had a whole wall of huge paper shopping bags with money sitting there and had me help count it out. Conforte also took me out to his car one time and showed me a whole trunk full of absentee ballots filled out for Harry. He actually offered me the opportunity to open the ballots to check them if I wanted, but I didn’t want my fingerprints on there. So, you could say Harry Reid’s campaign was partially oiled by the sweat of Mustang Ranch whores. Interview, Don Williams, 10-27-2009
Don Williams has since been polygraphed on his statements and I no longer consider them in dispute. The excruciating problem is that if Reid was taking money from pimp Conforte (who it is well documented bribed a flotilla of Nevada politicians over decades), it means Reid’s entire career was compromised, especially starting with Reid’s tenure as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission starting in 1977. In the popular media culture, that would imply that in the movie Casino, Deniro/Ace/Lefty Rosenthal really did give money and perhaps more to Dickey Smothers/Harry Reid. It would also imply that in real life at the Tropicana casino skim, Joe Agosto, the bagman for the Civella crime family, really did have a “Cleanface in his pocket”.
Taking unreported money from pimps is explosive enough, but perhaps just old news from 35 years ago. Except as I continued to research I found a thread of examples of bribery that extend to the present and also include influence by denizens of the “Adult” Entertainment Industry, as well as vestiges of the mob right out of the movie Casino. Strikingly similar to Conforte’s well documented penchant for bribing politicians in the 70s and 80s is the G-Sting scandal of 2003, where two Reid prot�g�s (County Commissioners Erin Kenny, and Dario Herrera) took bribes from topless bar owners. G-Sting gives us an end cap to forty years of influence peddling, however, there are thirty chapters of events in my book detailing crony land deals, sleazy associations and intimidation which link back all the way to the pimp Conforte days. My research, and that of another author finishing eleven years of his own research on a book on Conforte, are still going strong and are headed towards a further dirtying of the Reid record.
The Conforte accusations would be old events if Harry Reid hadn’t based much of his federal elective career on having been the guy who faced down the mob during his appointed stint as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1977 to 1981. Could Conforte and his mob associates have had a hold on Reid during the 80s too? First be aware that pimp Joe Conforte had spent a great deal of money and effort bribing everyone under the sun to get prostitution legalized in Nevada in 1971. The number of bribed politicians is substantial, and admitted both by Conforte in a 2008 Interview with I-Team reporter George Knapp in Brazil, as well as being documented by numerous indictments and news stories beyond this articles’ scope. Conforte also claimed in a 1983 DOJ testimony to have bribed popular governor Mike O’Callaghan:
In the early 1970’s, Gino Del Carlo was a County Commissioner in Storey County, Nevada. In or around 1972, Del Carlo died. Since the Governor of the state had the authority to fill the term of a County Commissioner, [Conforte] wanted to be sure the Governor appointed a person who would be in favor of prostitution. [Conforte] asked Claiborne to contact Governor Mike O’Callaghan and request that O’Callaghan appoint Laura Del Carlo, wife of Gino Del Carlo, as the interim replacement.
[Conforte] was confident that O’Callaghan would make the appointment of Laura Del Carlo for him. [Conforte] explained that in 1970, he had “donated” to O’Callaghan’s race in the primary. He had donated $5,000 initially, and in September, 1970, gave another $1,000 to O’Callaghan’s wife to pay some miscellaneous bills. Towards the end of the year, he donated another $7,000 to $8,000 for O’Callaghan’s campaign.
[Conforte] advised [blank] was a witness to the payments made to O’Callaghan’s campaign. [Conforte] explained that the first $5,000 was paid to O’Callaghan at [blank]. He believe the future payments were given to O’Callaghan’s campaign manager.
O’Callaghan did, in fact, appoint [Laura Del Carlo] to the County Commission. Department of Justice Interview With Joe Conforte, 1983 from internal Memo, as supplied by correspondence with Oscar Dey Williams, author of the book Conforte due for release in 2011.
Federal Judge Harry Claiborne, mentioned above and also a friend of Harry Reid, was impeached for taking money and prostitutes as bribes from Conforte. Governor O’Callaghan was Reid’s mentor, first as high school teacher and boxing coach to eventually appointing Reid to the Gaming Commission in 1977 after Reid’s failed Senate race against Paul Laxalt. Moreover, the late Pete Echeverria, who chaired the Nevada Gaming Commission before Reid, was also a former lawyer to Joe Conforte during a catch-all tax evasion trial in 1963 (really pandering and intimidation). Plus we have Don Williams polygraphed statement that he picked up money from Conforte for Reid on two campaigns. In short, we aren’t arguing whether my history of Reid corruption is plausible, only whether it is 100% accurate and despite all the evidence Reid somehow miraculously remained a Saint amongst the corrupt.
My conjecture is that Reid was juiced into the Gaming Commission Chairmanship by Joe Conforte. What is little understood is that Joe Conforte, along with a mob associate named John Simone and possibly Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno, had delusions that they could get licensed as casino operators as late as 1976. Simone and Conforte had met in 1974 at the Canyon Country Club Hotel in Palm Springs to discuss building a casino, and Conforte had followed through by buying 300 some odd acres near Sparks Nevada (which also devolved into a Commissioner being bribed, a common theme). According to an article by Mike Oliva in the March 21st, 1976 Nevada State Journal:
Conforte also denied knowing any of the figures with whom police say he met in Palm Springs.
“Hey, I don’t have anything to do with these Mafias,” the brothel operator said . “Everybody always wants to say I’m with the Mafias I’m not a Mafia”.
However, Conforte did say he’d like to see his hillside property across from the golf course site turn into a casino center.
“There’s nothing I’d like better than to see five hotels the size of the MGM Grand on that hillside,” he said. “There’d be nothing better for the community, ”
Despite the protestations of innocence from a multiply convicted pimp, one can hypothesize that Harry Reid was juiced into the appointive Chairmanship of the Nevada Gaming Commission in 1977 specifically so he could help get Joe Conforte and others a casino license. Some might call that a slander, but if Don Williams’ polygraphed statement is correct about picking up money from Conforte for Reid, then the entire Harry Reid mythic story collapses in doubt. Certainly, Reid overlooked other dubious gaming application during his Commission tenure, notably at the Aladdin with entertainer Wayne Newton and also when the hundreds of pages of FBI files on the mob connections of Frank Sinatra were ignored when Sinatra came before the gaming commission.
Also potentially significant is that Reid’s long time good friend, Lawyer Jay Brown, was helping represent mob crooks Joe Agosto and Deil Gustafson at the Tropicana skim in the late 70s and 80s while best friend Reid was on the Commission. Reid claims his friendship with Brown was never abused and he was never influenced, though that isn’t what notorious Lefty Rosenthal thought when he commented on his view of Brown’s defense capabilities.
One lesson, if I need a friend I’ll buy a dog! As for Jay Brown, he never returned my calls and continues to practice his style of bullshit. If I sound bitter, I apologize, I’m really not. Time heals most wounds. Feature Story: State Gamers Petition Supreme Court (Desert Rats 3) Posted by Frank Rosenthal on January 22, 1999
Lefty’s disappointment in Jay Brown was most likely because Brown and partner mob lawyer Oscar Goodman had implied their friendship with Harry Reid would save the day. While Lefty did end up in the Black Book, it is never clear what motivated the mob at that point in time because Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno was squealing, Frank “the Bomp” Bompensiero had been executed for being a rat, and Tony “the Ant” Spilotro was under FBI pressure. So we just don’t know whether Reid was on the take while his best friend was representing mobsters, or whether there is a tooth fairy. However, a critical casino owner from that period tells me “everyone knew Reid was on the take”.
Reid has often claimed through the years that he has not abused Lawyer to Lawyer firewalls, especially the one he has with friend Jay Brown. For example, in 2009 supposedly Reid never contacted lawyer/nude bar owner Dominic Gentile when State Attorney General Catherine Cortes Mastos was contemplating offering Gentile $425,000 to prosecute Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki on later dismissed and unfounded embezzlement charges (“coincidentally” Krolicky was then the presumptive opponent for Reid’s Senate seat). Then there are the land deals. In 2002 there were the reports of the suspicious Patrick Lane deal in partnership with ubiquitous friend Jay Brown where $750,00 was hidden in a game of ownership musical chairs. Then there is the 250 acres of Reid’s Searchlight land (55 acres co-owned with Jay Brown) that was being jockeyed into position to be a potentially $50 million development with shady builder Jim Rhodes (the four lane improved highway to Searchlight goes right by Reid’s land). Then there are the shenanigans involving the Coyote Springs development of lawyer/friend Harvey Whittemore where Reid moved mountains to obtain transmission line and desert tortoise rights � now defunct the land is being repositioned for largess from a solar plant operator. Currently there is the Anderson Dairy scandal where dairyman (with real cows) and Republican member of the State Assembly Ed Goedart was forced to ship milk to California, then ship California milk back to Nevada while Reid supporter Andersen Dairy is given a waiver.
Then there is Reid’s saving jobs at the City Center megaresort complex. Reid strong-armed money from banks to finish the project, supposedly to save jobs. In reality, Reid succeeded in bailing out long time friend and top contributor Kirk Kerkorian and the MGM as well as partner Dubai World and notorious Pansy Ho. Reid could have saved multiple other projects in the Vegas Valley, but chose his friends.
In a September 15th townhall meeting in the Summerlin community in Las Vegas, there was a surrogate debate between Sig Rogich (who now heads Republicans for Reid and stood in for Reid) and Richard Ziser (who ran against Reid in 2004 and stood in for Sharron Angle). I asked Mr. Rogich directly if he thought Don Williams was a liar about Reid’s connections to Conforte. Rogich replied that he had called Williams recently and that they simply had different recollections of events and these were in any case old events. Most telling, Mr. Rogich refused to commit Senator Reid to taking a polygraph to clear his name. Of course Rogich wasn’t there at the Conforte payoffs, so couldn’t know their validity. Clearly, once on the corruption rollercoaster a politician can’t really get off, so lobbyist Rogich’s contention that this was something from the distant past is strictly wishful spin.
Sadly, Rogich himself is part of a quid pro quo with Reid regarding something called the DesertXpress high-speed rail where Rogich stands to reap huge rewards during the building of a high speed rail from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Immediately after Reid endorsed the DesertXpress over the rival Maglev technology, Rogich started the Republicans for Reid PAC. Laughably, the DesertXpress technology is so inferior that it would dead-end in Victorville unable to overcome the grade at the Cajon Pass to Los Angeles.
I could go on and on, and indeed I have in a book which continues to grow (it is published through Amazon.com with just-in-time printing technology, so I can update the edition regularly). But here is the truly disturbing part, as an author I have at least ten story lines that I can’t even go into because they take the form of Reid getting a kickback from X, but the source is afraid to talk publicly. Is it fair as an author to drop hints that a subject (even a politician) is even dirtier than you can say, and then not divulge sources on record? It certainly is not fair, but neither is the way Harry Reid conducts his intimidation campaigns in Nevada. These aren’t nice people, they are thug leftovers from the movie Casino.
People can judge for themselves, read my book and then see if Harry Reid is willing to take a polygraph that he never took money from Joe Conforte. Either Harry Reid is oblivious to fifty years of corruption, or he is part of all of it. Either scenario should give Nevada voters and American’s in general the absolute Halloween willies.
Mar 15 2010
1450584322 / 9781450584326
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 6″ x 9″
Color: Black and White
Biography & Autobiography / Political