Government witness has some choice words for former mob colleagues


Memo from Frank Cullotta to his critics: Get stuffed.

Recent columns on mob-tough-guy-turned-government-witness Frank Cullotta generated no shortage of opinions from his former friends and enemies. A couple of the printable statements were published in last Friday's column. They have motivated Cullotta to respond.

I know what you're thinking: Can't these people just shoot it out on the street and get it over with?

No, that would be uncivilized.

As if I needed reminding, Cullotta says, "First of all, I wasn't put in this world to win a popularity contest at any time in my life."

He means his life as a hoodlum and member of Tony Spilotro's mob crew and his life as a reformed hoodlum and cooperating witness. Spilotro and his brother, Michael, were murdered in 1986.

"Second," he adds, "all these wanna-be gangsters and tough guys, they can say what they want, but they were never in my shoes.

"Third of all, Tony's best friends killed him. The worst thing I could have done to Tony is put him in jail. But Tony and them had a contract on me and would have killed me. If Tony would have went to jail, he never would have died."

PRIEST ACCUSED: The Rev. Robert Petekiewicz, formerly of Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church, is being sued in New York, accused of sexually and physically abusing a 9-year-old boy in 1985. The New York Post first reported the lawsuit, which was filed in Queens Supreme Court by an attorney for Philip Franco, now 33.

Petekiewicz's tenure at Our Lady was at times controversial. After a church bookkeeper in 2005 noticed "improprieties in donations and other funds," the employee sued, alleging retaliation by Petekiewicz.

In 2006, a large number of OLLV parishioners complained about his lack of professionalism and vindictive nature.

An inquiry by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas into bookkeeping practices and the interaction between Petekiewicz and OLLV principal Richard Martinez led to changes at the parish. Both men were asked to resign. Petekiewicz left the church in June 2006, and Martinez followed not long afterward.

In a lawsuit filed in Clark County, Petekiewicz was accused of physically assaulting two students.

ST. BALDRICK'S BASH: Times are tough, but the intrepid gang at McMullan's Irish Pub is pressing on with its annual St. Baldrick's hair-cutting fundraiser to help fight childhood cancer. Last year, the event raised $201,000 with 90 percent of the funds remaining in the community in the form of a grant to local pediatric cancer clinics.

My cancer-fighting daughter, Amelia, will once again shave my head during the event, and you can be part of her team with a simple donation. (And if you need one, it's also a good excuse to drink a Guinness on a Saturday afternoon.)

The event is set to start at 2 p.m. March 7 at McMullan's at 4650 W. Tropicana Ave. and also at Quinn's Irish Pub at the Green Valley Ranch.

MONKEY BUSINESS: While other nonprofits struggle and fail, the humble, lovable Las Vegas Zoo on Rancho Drive rolls right along. It improves slowly, continues to expand, and maintains its relationship with larger zoos year after year.

And it does so without a group of wealthy Las Vegans throwing money at it or embracing it. On the contrary: Many have rejected it because of its location and lack of social status.

Pat Dingle, the zoo's executive director, pays his bills and keeps a small staff employed without the benefit of the local champagne set.

He'd like the zoo to be much larger, but to date no wealthy benefactor has swooped in to embrace his project. And he's seen what dealing too closely with the city and other government entities can do. The city, you may recall, once set aside land for a large zoo project. Some of that land now has houses on it.

I've always admired Dingle's tenacity and love for his job.

What's his secret? Small salaries and small egos, I suspect.

The little zoo that refuses to quit draws about 50,000 customers per year.

ON THE BOULEVARD: The wind from Pikes Peak blows a little colder now that one of America's feistiest dailies, The Rocky Mountain News, has died after 150 years. Today marks its final edition.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith/.

 

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