Ken Leighton 4:17 p.m., July 23
La Costa's Merv Adelson admits mob ties
He is also just about broke, says Vanity Fair
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.