‘Mafia Cops’ drug case nears end while gloomy anti-Reid ads begin

The fireworks fizzled, but after repeated mistrials, it appears we’ll finally have an end to the "Mafia Cops" drug case.

The trial of Anthony Eppolito and Guido Bravatti went to a jury Thursday in U.S. District Judge Philip Pro’s courtroom with defense counsel pushing their entrapment theory despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Eppolito is the son of former Las Vegas resident Louis Eppolito, who with former NYPD partner Steve Caracappa was convicted of betraying their badges and acting as hit men for the Lucchese crime family.

Defense attorneys Richard Schonfeld and Deputy federal Public Defender Shari Kaufman were set to call government informant Steve Corso to the witness stand Thursday, but confidently changed their minds.

BATTLE BEGINS: Solemn, ominous, devastating. Those are words I’d use to describe the black-and-white YouTube advertisement now surfacing about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The ad is a prelude to an all-out war against Reid that attempts to blast the Senate powerhouse for failing to better protect Nevadans from the recession’s devastation.

It’s titled, "Who’s looking out for Nevada?"

Sources say this is another sign state Sen. Mark Amodei is about to come out of the shadows and declare his candidacy against Reid.

PARRAGUIRRE’S PASSING: Clark County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre, who died Sunday night after a long struggle against leukemia, was a hard-working and classy person who represented the best of local government. Shirley started with the county at a time when computers were a distant dream, and she helped the county make the transition into the modern era. She was 69.

She was an ethical person in an important and under-appreciated job.

SHOP REOPENS: Gambling book aficionados have been itching to see Gamblers Book Shop reopen in its new location at 1550 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite 4.

The independent bookstore run by Howard Schwartz for three decades downtown opens in its new digs with a reception at 4 p.m. today.

AMELIA’S CAUSE: Yes, that’s my cancer-fighting daughter, Amelia, in the latest KLAS-TV, Channel 8, public service announcement for the upcoming Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation Race for Our Kids at Exploration Park at Mountain’s Edge.

Amelia is the ambassador for this year’s race, which is scheduled for Saturday morning, Sept. 12.

Join her team, Cookie’s Cheerleaders, or start your own by signing up for the race either on line (at www. candlelightersnv.org) or on the morning of the event.

SAHARA REUNION: Retired casino veteran Mike Gnatovich reminds me it’s almost time for the 13th annual reunion of former Sahara Hotel employees. I really enjoyed last year’s event and was reminded that the late Frank Fertitta Jr. of Station Casinos fame was a proud alum.

This year’s event is set for Sept. 22 at Palace Station.

DAY CARE CLOSURE: The doors of the spacious Kids R Kids day care campus at 5150 N. Jones Nlvd. abruptly closed earlier this week after the building was foreclosed on, leaving parents scrambling to find available care for their children.

Some of those parents were welcomed at the nearby Klassy Kids Academy at 6050 W. Lone Mountain Road. Others were left to juggle their children’s safety and care with their jobs in a struggle that, because of the recession and the soured mortgage market, becomes more difficult by the day.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Anyone who criticizes Las Vegas as a place without community spirit has never attended a meeting of the Los Prados Women’s Club. These ladies consistently contribute to local charities, and that’s part of what creating a sense of community is all about.

BOULEVARD II: Is someone finally going to write a book about the exploits of early casino operator Dino Cellini, who was known from Las Vegas to the Bahamas? That’s what I’m hearing. … Award-winning author Nicholas Pileggi is said to be working on a Dean Martin project. Whatever became of the deal he had with former Sheriff Ralph Lamb? … "Beating the Odds: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Sports Handicapper" by Brandon Lang and Stanley Cohen is a sure sports book best-seller. Lang’s story was captured in the movie "Two For the Money."

BOULEVARD III: J.R.’s Place at 5745 S. Durango is getting raves from locals seeking great food at good prices. … Las Vegas Zoo operator Pat Dingle is a funny guy. He says the "mob" is alive and well in Las Vegas. The zoo’s mob of wallabies, he means.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 83-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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