Driller killer suspect held

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The Independent Online
HE WAS known in the Mob as Vinnie Aspirins, a man with a reputation for making your headaches go away for ever. The FBI had been keeping an eye on him, particularly after hearing about his taste for boring holes in his victims' heads with a cordless power drill.

So when the tip came that Vincent Congiusti and another suspected Mafia enforcer were on their way from Florida to Las Vegas this month, the Feds knew it spelt trouble. According to FBI documents now lodged with the District Court, the Mob was trying to muscle in on Las Vegas's biggest criminal racket - "adult-dancing" services, which in many cases cover for prostitution (illegal in Las Vegas and surrounding county) as well as drug-smuggling and money-laundering.

The target of the Mob's ire, the FBI believed, were three adult-dancing operators, Frank Bartello, Richard Soranno and Harry Jacobs, who had themselves been under surveillance.

The FBI pulled the plug on its undercover operation and arrested six men - Mr Congiusti and his associate, Anton Nelson, a third alleged enforcer from New Jersey, the owner of another Las Vegas adult-entertainment business, Chris DeCarlo, Mr DeCarlo's driver, and Mario Stefano, a suspected operative of the New York Gambino Mafia family.

It was Mr Stefano who set off alarm bells when he told an agent he was irritated with the way his friends were losing business in Vegas and that "a couple of aspirins will be sent ... to deal with those headaches". A search of the car driven by Mr Congiusti and Mr Nelson uncovered a drill and firearms, silencers, ammunition and explosives.

Ever since the Chicago Mob lost its grip on Las Vegas's gambling industry, Mafia families have been looking for ways to reassert their presence in the town they helped found. The attempted takeover of the adult-dancing industry appears to have relied on several techniques. The FBI launched its investigation after complaints that someone was tampering with the Las Vegas telephone switchboard and rerouting calls to Mafia-affiliated competitors.

One of the men apparently saved from a terminal encounter with a power drill, Mr Soranno, said he believed he became a target after setting up an Internet site for his service, which charges $150 (pounds 90) to $200 to customers receiving nude dancers in their homes.