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Wife of slot cheat should be removed from Black Book

By statute and tradition, inclusion in the state’s casino Black Book amounts to a lifetime ban. Once you’re on the infamous list of excluded persons, you’re on it for good until death do you part.

That probably makes sense for many, even most, of the angle-shooters, wiseguys and hoodlums who have been added to it over the years. They’re in because if you’re going to have such a thing as an exclusionary list, they should be in.

Although it’s often criticized as a glorified publicity tool — often by friends of the people who want very much to be removed from the list — the state Gaming Control Board takes the Black Book seriously.

But it’s also true that when it comes to Nevada gaming history, there are exceptions to just about every rule.

With that, I remind you of the recent death of longtime casino cheat John Vaccaro. He influenced crews that robbed gambling establishments from here to Biloxi. He was caught repeatedly, suspected of other crimes and maintained a long association with members of organized crime. According to some law enforcement sources, he was a member of the Milano crime family of Southern California and kept in close contact with the remaining vestiges of the Marcello mob clan in his hometown of New Orleans.

His inclusion in the Black Book, especially after he led a group of slot machine cheaters responsible for robbing Nevada casinos of millions in fraudulent jackpots, only makes sense.

But Vaccaro’s wife, Sandra, a longtime local nurse, was caught up with him in a cheating scheme now about four decades old. She was added to the Black Book with her husband on Oct. 2, 1986.

In an upcoming meeting of the Gaming Control Board, members will do their duty and entertain a motion to have the late John Vaccaro’s name deleted from the list. Like most who have gone before him, he left the Black Book feet first.

But I would like to offer a motion of my own, admittedly from the cheap seats: Have a heart and remove Sandy Vaccaro from the list after 39 years.

She wasn’t exactly Al Capone material on her worst day. And four decades is a longtime on anyone’s naughty list.

SPOTLIGHT SHINES: You won’t find it featured at every theater in the Las Vegas Valley, which is a shame, but “Spotlight” is well-worth seeking out. Michael Keaton and the rest of the cast are great as a team of dedicated Boston Globe reporters investigating child molestation by Catholic priests. It’s directed and co-written by Thomas McCarthy. Betting it wins big come Oscar time.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Locked in a heated dispute with managers of the World Market Center downtown, it appears operators of the Mundo are about to close the popular restaurant. What will that mean for the spirited Garden of Hope, which has generated funds for the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada? … Jerry Craig Gatch’s wild “Vegas Juice” will remind longtime locals of the good old, bad old Strip of the 1970s. … Maybe one day former local firefighter and All-American boy-type George Tiaffay, who hired a homeless psycho to kill his wife and is now serving life, will call and explain what led him to such an unfathomable act of cruelty. … So, UNLV officially reports that the “Runnin’ Rebels” nickname has nothing to do with the old Confederacy. Someone should have told the mopes who for years have insisted on unfurling the Confederate battle flag during their football tailgates parties.

— Have an item for Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.

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