If they think of him at all these days, most San Diegans probably remember Allen Glick as the Mafia puppet, thinly disguised as "Mr. Green," in Martin Scorcese's movie version of Casino, a book by Nick Pileggi. Back in the mid-1970s, Glick, a small-time San Diego real estate developer with an office just down the street from Mr. A's restaurant, was set up by the Midwest mob as straw owner of the Stardust and Fremont hotels on the Las Vegas strip.
Glick's main job in Las Vegas, it later emerged, was to sit quietly while two Mafia henchmen, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, skimmed millions from the hotels' casinos. Rosenthal, a handicapper, bookie, and sports fixer, was variously billed as Glick's entertainment director, assistant, and food-and-beverage manager. He allegedly reported to his bosses in Chicago and Kansas City, who had arranged Glick's hotel purchases with $62 million in loans from the corrupt Teamsters Central States pension fund.
Rosenthal's friend Spilotro, a hit man suspected of at least 25 killings, provided the muscle for the operation; in his spare time he freelanced around Las Vegas with his own makeshift crew of Mafiosi, breaking into upscale homes in a series of high-profile "Hole in the Wall Gang" jewel thefts. Spilotro also ended up two-timing with Rosenthal's wife Geri, an ex call girl.
In the movie, a fictionalized version of Spilotro, played by Joe Pesci, is seen to murder a character closely resembling Tamara Rand, a San Diego real estate woman whose business dealings with Glick had soured and who had threatened to blow the whistle on him. Rand was gunned down in 1975 in the kitchen of her Mission Hills home, arguably becoming one of San Diego's most famous victims of a Mafia hit, though the case was never officially solved.
When the feds moved in on Glick's operation and shut it down in 1979, he lost his casinos and became a cooperating witness, immunized from prosecution in a celebrated criminal case against 15 members of the mob. In 1983, Rosenthal narrowly survived a Las Vegas car bombing. Spilotro was said to be a suspect, but nothing became of the case. Never charged with a crime, Rosenthal retired to Florida and told his story to author Pileggi. He was portrayed by Robert De Niro in the movie.
Spilotro, indicted for his jewel thefts, disappeared in June 1986; his body was later found alongside that of his brother Michael's in shallow graves dug into an Indiana cornfield. Casino depicts their gruesome murder by baseball bat-wielding executioners from the Chicago mob.
Glick, meanwhile, always maintaining he had been duped by the mob, continued to live an outwardly peaceful and prosperous life behind the large walls and elaborate security devices ringing his La Jolla mansion. Over the years since his Las Vegas endeavor, Glick's business links have variously been reported to include casinos in the Philippines and Costa Rica; riverboat gambling ventures in Pennsylvania; electronic lotteries; and the manufacture of a canned diet drink called California Slim. Author Dan Moldea wrote that Glick had been in a real estate deal with Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis. Glick was also an investor with convicted felon Richard Silberman in Silberman's ill-fated gold-mining venture, Yuba Natural Resources.
For the most part, Glick has managed to lead a low-key existence, giving generously to the private schools attended by his children, playing golf at La Costa, and easily mixing with La Jolla's beautiful people. But that began to change last fall when the Arizona Republic blew the whistle on part-time La Jollan Jeremy Simms, a Glick associate with a checkered past who now heads the Turf Paradise horse-racing track in Phoenix.
Simms, his family members, and some La Jolla friends -- including high-dollar residential real estate broker Maxine Gellens and Dr. Don and Emily Einhorn -- were granted a three-year license to run Turf Paradise in May of last year by the Arizona Racing Commission. But after a series of September stories in the Republic linking Simms to Glick, Arizona governor Jane Hull sacked racing department chief Jim Higginbottom and ordered an investigation into Simms and his operation.
Last week, the Arizona gaming department notified Simms that his application to operate video-gambling devices and offtrack betting at Indian casinos in the state would be denied.
In addition to his relationship with Glick, regulators said, Simms's connection with a bribery case against ex-California coastal commissioner Mark Nathanson in which Simms sought a permit to build a pool at his La Jolla mansion, made him unworthy of an Arizona gambling license. An unsuccessful attempt to stop construction of the Sheraton on Torrey Pines by other payoffs to Nathanson also figure in the license denial.
Simms has vowed to appeal the ruling. He and his partners reportedly paid $53 million for the track operation last year and hope to add slot machines at the track. He claims that he no longer talks to Glick, and the monetary dealings he had with Nathanson were the result of extortion.
In any case, the allegations against Simms, as spelled out in the official "Investigations Report" and "State Certification of Denial" from the Arizona Department of Gaming, provide an intriguing glimpse into the fast life and allegedly shady doings of Simms and his old pal from La Jolla, Allen Glick. Excerpts follow.
"Mr. Jeremy Ellis Simms made a false statement about his involvement in corrupt payments to California Coastal Commissioner Mark Nathanson and California State Senator Alan Robbins. He misrepresented his financial dealings and personal relationship with Allen Glick. He has pursued economic gain in an occupational manner by the use of corrupt payments. Mr. Simms's prior activities and association pose a threat to the public interest of the Tribe and State, and the effective regulation and control of Class III Gaming.
"Between 1992 and 1998, Simms advanced Glick a total of exactly $1 million. In interviews with Department Investigators, Jeremy Simms and Allen Glick both stated all funds advanced to Glick by Simms are business transactions. The investigation disclosed only the first three loan transactions dated back to 1992 and 1993 are evidenced by loan documents. The schedule of loans provided by Jeremy Simms indicates Glick owes Simms $252,122 including an unreconciled difference of $60,000.