Allen Glick has lived a “full and wonderful life enjoying many global adventures,” said a death notice Thursday in The San Diego Union-Tribune, noting La Jollan’s longtime Bronze Star of Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and his role in special ops.
Not mentioned in the 670 word paid obituary: Glick being a formative figure of the Mafia takeover of Las Vegas.
In the Oscar nominated film “Casino” starring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, Glick was portrayed by actor Kevin Pollack like “Philip Green” – an ignorant nebbish.
In fact, the FBI agents who probed the casinos called him “Genius”.
Deemed to be an impeccable businessman, the San Diego real estate man unwittingly (he and others insist) used nearly $ 63 million in mob-controlled Teamsters pension funds to build an empire of four casinos in the 1970s, including the iconic Stardust.
He eventually learned he was involved in a skimming operation, but had no way of leaving.
“You couldn’t go to the crowd and say: I want to stop,” said Nicolas Pileggi, whose non-fiction books inspired the classic gangster films “Goodfellas” and “Casino”.
“You would sign your death warrant.”
In a phone interview on Friday, Pileggi said he was sorry to learn of Glick’s death from cancer on Monday at the age of 79 at his home near Kate Sessions Park between La Jolla and Pacific Beach.
Pileggi, 88, spoke from Long Island, New York, saying he got to know Glick after the book was released in 1995 and even before the movie.
“He was kind enough to meet me. He read the book. … Some are flattering, some are not, ”said Pileggi. “But he was a gentleman enough to meet, and I was very impressed with him.”
He said Glick was a “fascinating element” in Las Vegas gaming because he was basically a legitimate businessman who the crowd needed to function.
Pileggi said few people strayed from a chance to create a major industry – but it was a tightrope that Glick had to walk.
“Not many people I have met … have had the nerve to take a chance,” said the Oscar-nominated screenwriter. “It wasn’t until later that I realized he had been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He didn’t need nerve. He just got it.
Despite accounts suggesting Glick was aware of the Teamsters mob connections, Pileggi accepts the notion of commercial innocence.
“It was before the ‘Godfather,'” Pileggi said. “It was above all that intelligence was really part of American culture. It was a revelation to many people how much power the crowd had. Because the crowd wasn’t advertising it.
The Sicilian gangs that came to America went from street thugs to “Great Gatsby” during Prohibition, he said, when the Mafia became ultra-rich via smuggling operations – and untouchable via police and police. corrupt and bought politicians.
“So he was in a bind,” Pileggi said of Glick. But federal agents eventually found something to recruit him as a witness in skimming cases against top Mafia bosses. “I don’t know what it was, but they managed to convince him to cooperate and convince him that they were being honest.”
Immunity granted, Glick assisted put the mafia bosses in prison.
At supreme peril.
“I got to know him over the last few years and saw him as a pretty heroic and cheeky guy,” Pilleggi said. “You look at him – he wasn’t a big guy. He was a bit of a geek. He didn’t have much hair. He had these glasses.
Glick endured a “very, very dangerous time” when cases began to come to trial involving Mafia bosses in Chicago, Cleveland and Kansas City.
But after the convictions – and the gang murders that took out other Mafia bosses – the heat died down for Glick, who had returned to San Diego amid tightened security.
“He was almost dead if they could have made it,” said Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay for “Casino” with director Martin Scorcese. “So I think he had a tremendous amount of federal security. This is probably one of the reasons he almost disappeared.
But with no ongoing mafia trial, he said, “there was no reason to kill him at this point. They don’t kill for revenge. They kill because they don’t want you to testify.
Some parts of Glick’s story remain a mystery, however, including what he knew of what the San Diego drive called “The bloodiest and arguably most famous hit in the San Diego Mafia” – the murder of Glick’s partner, Tamara Rand.
“On November 9, 1975, a wealthy fifty-five-year-old woman named Tamara Rand was shot five times in the head and killed in the kitchen of her home in the Mission Hills section of San Diego. It was a professional success, ”Pileggi wrote. “The killers used a .22 caliber with a silencer; there was no sign of a break-in and nothing was missing. The body was found by Rand’s husband on his way home from work.
Glick found out that Rand had been killed when he came down [his company] jet in Las Vegas and was “greeted by reporters and television cameramen asking his reaction to the murder,” Pileggi wrote a quarter of a century ago.
Pileggi backed Glick’s protests of innocence on Friday.
The crowd would not share their plans for Rand, he said.
“They kept him in the dark. I think the reason she was killed was that they were afraid she would tell him what was going on. … He was her partner. And she wanted something from him (a 5% stake in his company) that maybe was unfair, ”Pileggi said.
“She had the advantage over him because she knew things about people he was dealing with that he didn’t know. The minute it came back to them – that she was a potential danger, that she could talk to him about things they didn’t want him to know – they had to get rid of her.
Allen Robert Glick was born April 11, 1942 in Pittsburgh, son of Jack and Pearl Glick, according to his paid obituary.
He attended Kiski school, a private residential school in Pennsylvania, and received a BA from Ohio State University and a law degree from Case-Western Reserve School of Law.
Entered the army in 1967 as a first lieutenant in the military police, he was transferred to special operations where he served as captain in Vietnam.
“He learned to speak Vietnamese to assist the military in military search and rescue operations,” his obituary stated. “His bravery there showed no bounds and for it was awarded the Bronze Star, three air combat medals and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor.”
After dealing with other Southwestern projects – including a post office in Texas, Pileggi says – Glick bought the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas.
As chairman of Silver Corp., Glick became one of Nevada’s largest casino and hotel owners in the mid-1970s, “bringing the first sportsbook and sportsbook operation to the Strip,” the obituary claims.
“His company was also responsible for bringing Siegfried and Roy highlight, ”he continued. “Allen sold his holdings in Las Vegas in 1980. He was second behind Howard Hughes in hotel and casino ownership.”
He then set up joint ventures with groups in Hong Kong and the Philippines and owned several casinos in Costa Rica.
Its board members included Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla,
Contested Athletes, San Diego Honorary Sheriff’s Association and Kiski’s Board of Directors.
“Even with his many business accomplishments, the greatest measure of his life was his dedication to his wife, Kathy, family and friends,” the obituary said. “Allen will always be remembered for his generosity and kindness.
A celebration of life was held Thursday at Congregation Beth Israel, followed by a funeral service at El Camino Memorial Park in the Sorrento Valley.
Former Union-Tribune editor and San Diego Reader columnist Don Bauder said, “The truth doesn’t find its way into paid obituaries for players in the gaming industry.”
He said the last time he spoke with Glick was in the 1990s.
“At the time, he was building a casino in the Philippines,” Bauder said from his home in Colorado. “I called her about the murder of [Rand] … Glick was kicked out of Vegas by gambling regulators, but it may have been a favor for the thugs who then controlled Vegas (and possibly still). … I remember he was the head of the PTA – or something like that – at one of the most prestigious private schools in La Jolla.
He added: “These paid obituaries do a disservice to honest journalism. The only surprise in the obituary is that it mentions its ownership of various casinos. I was not surprised that he did not mention his problems with the Nevada regulators, the murder [of Rand], etc. “
On Facebook, Glick has been recalled by several people.
Says Nolan Dalla:
In the film, Glick came out as a mischievous accountant and little more than a puppet with no personality. The truth was, Glick was a proud Vietnam veteran who was decorated in battle and later became largely a self-made man. … Considering everything he’s been involved in, during arguably the darkest and most dangerous times on the Las Vegas Strip, it’s a miracle Glick hasn’t been charged with any criminal activity. It is even more of a miracle that he was not murdered. … Glick was certainly not a saint. … But credit Glick for one thing – he was a survivor. Las Vegas has lost one of its last ties to the bad old days when one crowd was replaced by another.
A Las Vegas Advisor Account from 2011 noted information from the Pileggi book: “If Glick was a prisoner of the mob, his was a very golden cage. The perks of being a Front Mob included being able to afford a mansion in La Jolla, California, as well as a private jet. Glick also reveled in a car collection that included… a Stutz Bearcat with mink rugs and upholstery.
But Pileggi, who says he last spoke to Glick about 10 years ago, told The San Diego Times that he admired Glick and loved him as a person.
“By coming together in this world, with the crowd and all this corruption and stuff, you don’t meet a lot of people who really hold their dignity and even their honor,” he said. “And he’s one of the few who did. And managed to get out of it and not get killed. He survived Vietnam in a helicopter and he survived Las Vegas with the crowds.
“A fairly successful life. And a nice guy.