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For decades, Merv Adelson, a Vegas/Hollywood entrepreneur who financed the building of North County resort La Costa with three other dubious characters, has denied his organized crime ties. But in the March 2013 issue of Vanity Fair, Adelson -- who has lost 90% of his money and lives in a wee Santa Monica apartment -- told the publication about his long association with mobsters. Adelson developed La Costa with notorious gangster Moe Dalitz (whose daughter lives in San Diego County), Allard Roen and Irwin Molasky. In March of 1975, Penthouse magazine wrote a story about "The Hundred-Million Dollar Resort with the Criminal Clientele." The four financiers sued, claiming they had no such ties. The jury found for Penthouse, but the judge (who had been a lawyer for a mobster) overturned the decision. Finally, after ten years, the case ended, basically in a tie. You can read all about it in Matt Potter's superb Reader article of June 29, 2011, which shows how Molasky's company is now constructing building for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Adelson -- who was once married to TV's Barbara Walters and was a co-owner of Hollywood production company Lorimar -- explained to the magazine how he was so close to Dalitz, known as the Mob boss who kept peace among the various factions owning the casinos. "I enjoyed a very close relationship with Moe Dalitz," who was known as the "the Godfather of Las Vegas," Adelson told the publication. "So I know you're thinking, 'How do you account, Merv, for the fact that Moe Dalitz was a Mob boss? All I can say is, in all the years I knew Moe, we never discussed anything criminal." In 1963, the book, The Green Felt Jungle, detailing the Mob's role in Vegas, came out. "I began thinking about leaving Las Vegas," recalled Adelson. "I wanted to get away from the Mafia." A move to Carlsbad to La Costa got him part of the way there, explains the publication.

Comments
14

The remarkable part of this story is that Adelson is still alive and able to talk to a magazine. Never mind that he lives in a tiny (probably rent-controlled) apartment in Santa Monica. A real heartwarming story of riches-to-rags, only in America.

Jan. 31, 2013

Visduh: The suit in which Dalitz et al sued Penthouse was one of the all-time court farces. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 31, 2013

Who was thejudge/Mob lawyer?? Reminds me of Oscar Goodman in Las Vegas.

Jan. 31, 2013

SurfPup: According to Matt Potter's account, Judge Kenneth Gale quickly overturned the jury's verdict in favor of Penthouse. It was later discovered that Gale had earlier been a lawyer for Mafia hit man Aladena "Jimmy the Weasel" Fratianno. At the trial, Gale had banned Fratianno from telling the jury about a meeting he had had at La Costa with Chicago's Sam "Momo" Giancana and San Diego's Frank "the Bomp" Bompensiero to plan the murder of TV star Desi Arnaz. Fratiano, however, had lied plenty of times under oath. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 31, 2013

Is it just coincidence or is there a connection between this Adelson and Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who poured big bucks into Republican candidate campaigns?

Jan. 31, 2013

Javajoe: You know, I don't know the answer to that, and I, too, have often wondered. I have a faint memory that I once heard they were not related. Certainly, their financial accomplishments are unrelated: Sheldon Adelson is one of America's richest billionaires; Merv Adelson lost 90% of his wealth and lives in a humble abode. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 31, 2013

wondered that myself ,, not a common name both had ties to vegas and to major casinos.. my guess is that its a coincidence. if they were related Sheldon might have brought merv to Singapore .. but thats not happened ... just read bauders reply below and I agree with him Sheldon has class Merv has none.

June 15, 2020

Interesting. Much of the story told in the Vanity Fair article, no mob stuff though, was previously in an article in Variety about 7 yrs ago. At that time his then 10yr old daughter was also living with him in Santa Monica and he also had an office in Santa Monica. If I remember correctly, it was in one of the Water Garden buildings which is a pretty nice place.

Jan. 31, 2013

tomjohnston: I did not see the Variety story. If that story had nothing about his finally admitting his mob associations, it wouldn't have been as interesting, at least to me. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 31, 2013

Great article, Don! Matt Potter's article was great as well! Gee, Adelson/Molasky -- how sweet of the mob to just drop a slew of money in your pockets and have you build Las Vegas and then La Costa. Molasky's kids live on their daddy's money as well. It's no coincidence that Adelson's money runs out without the Sugar Daddy mob in his back pocket. What's really annoying is that Molasky -- who's money is also mob tainted from the get go -- is building an FBI building in San Diego. I think that's sick -- and it makes me wonder about the corruption in the FBI in SAn Diego. Why oh why would the FBI not use a local builder? Yeah, yeah -- like his Felon son-in-law, Ken Cornell, who was one of 3 incarcerated in the largest telemarketing scheme in US history -- to the tune of $440 million. They ripped off seniors of their life savings. Obviously, Molasky has some close ties to the San Diego FBI. That is hideous. And says volumes!!!

Feb. 1, 2013

Zorro: Matt Potter's cover story on the Molasky company having the contract for the FBI building was one of the best the Reader has done in a long time. Matt has also done blog and other items on Molasky/FBI. I understand Molasky's company is building several FBI facilities around the country. Matt's cover story on the Molasky/FBI deals ran June 27, 2011 and is very much worth re-reading. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 1, 2013

The FBI building deals appear to be raw deals for the taxpayer. The leases appear to be structured so that the FBI's annual lease payment pays the land acquisition and construction costs in only ten years. That is, Molasky will own the buildings free and clear of any debts after ten years. When the initial lease terms expire, the buildings are paid for but the FBI is in the position of having to negotiate lease extensions at then current market rates. The FBI should have constructed its own buildings with a budget appropriation instead of signing costly leases that no profit-making corporation would ever sign. With regard to the San Diego FBI building, it would have been cheaper to relocate the FBI to the Broadway Naval Complex where there's plenty of free space that's already paid for.

Feb. 1, 2013

B, we're talking about the gov here. They're idiots and lazy scammers.

Feb. 1, 2013

I shall remain anonymous; however, I knew Merv Adelson in those days and during the appeals process in the Penthouse case. I'm sorry to hear Merv has fallen on tough times. While my association with Merv was limited, I can say I knew him to be a good and decent person who was humbled by his success as both a partner in La Costa Country Club and head of Lorimar Productions. He always treated those around him well. I never saw an unscrupulous side to him. I did, however, see him as a loving and caring father. I can only wish him well.

An interesting point of fact, is that he started the Nathan Adelson Hospice Center in Las Vegas years ago in honor of his father.

I am also familiar with Sheldon Adelson who is originally from Boston. To my knowledge, there is no connection or family tie between the two men.

Nov. 10, 2013

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