Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Family Secrets mob trial with Sun-Times reporter Steve Warmbir

What's a few million dollars between friends?

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george jay vandermark
George Jay Vandermark


George Jay Vandermark was an unusual choice to supervise the slot machine operation at the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas in the mid-1970s.

Vandermark was a crack thief — at stealing coins from slot machines.

But if you're interested in stealing some of those coins for yourself, as the people were at the Stardust, then who better a choice than Vandermark?

Except Vandermark may have been stealing some of the coins for his own private skim.

And it wasn't pocket change.

His world started falling apart in May 18, 1976.

That day, Dennis Gomes, a top investigator with the Nevada Gaming Commission, hit the Stardust in a raid.

Through a bit of bluffing, informant information and street smarts, Gomes uncovered the slots skim at the Stardust and three other related casinos that night.

Gomes wanted to speak to Vandermark, but casino officials told him he had taken off on vacation

By chance, it was that very night.

Management, strangely enough, had no idea where he went.

The authorities determined that the skim amounted to $7 million over one year.

The problem for Vandermark is the mob believed the skim amounted to only $4 million.

Which means the mob soon realized it was short $3 million or so.

Gomes wanted to talk to Vandermark and fast.

Vandermark could tell him who gave him the orders to start the skim.

And Gomes believed that Vandermark's life was in danger.

Having no luck finding Vandermark, Gomes and another agent went to speak to Vandermark's son who lived in an apartment in Las Vegas.

The son was angry at first, but eventually told Gomes that his father was in Mexico and that he would be seeing him soon and relay Gomes' message.

When the son returned, he called Gomes and told him he believed his father was going to cooperate.

The son was busy and told Gomes he would see him in two days.

Gomes never saw the young man again.

When he didn't hear from him, Gomes went to his apartment. Inside, the young man was dead, his head crushed.

Police said the murder was drug-related.

The murder marked an end to any hope Gomes had of talking to Vandermark.

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6 Comments

do you think that the death of the son was truly drug related?

Is this something the outfit would do to send a message to his father?

I didn't think they hurt peopl for no reason.

Did Vandemark ever resurface?

I can't imagine that anyone can hide in this day and age.

Although maybe he actually left Chicago and didn't hide out with relatives in Kentucky, ha ha.


STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: There wasn't enough testimony at trial to form an opinion on whether the younger Vandermark's murder was related to his father.

The timing of the murder, though, certainly seems suspect.

The elder Vandermark never resurfaced and is presumed dead and possibly murdered.

What do you mean his head was crushed? Was it by physical force?

Is this possibly another case where the investigation might be reopened?

And is the elder Vandermark still alive?

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: The only testimony was that his head had been crushed. No more details were provided.

The elder Vandermark is presumed dead, possibly murdered, but there was no definitive testimony on his fate, because, I believe, no one knows.

There's nothing I've read or heard that would indicate that either case will be reopened.

Also, has there been any mentioning of the Chicago Outfit intervening in sports gambling, like the Boston College scandal that Henry Hill pulled off?

We understand that there are a lot of them that are bookies, but have any tried to put their hand in pro or college sports, like the Tim Doghany situation?

STEVE WARMBIR RESPONDS: There's been no testimony in the Family Secrets case about mobsters trying to fix college or professional sports.

Drug related? I doubt it.

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Don't you think it's suspicious that his head was crushed? Tony Spilotro's Favorite thing to do to get someone to talk and his father getting killed in Mexico soon after. Makes you say Hmmmmm?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Warmbir published on July 31, 2007 2:04 PM.

The murder of Butch Petrocelli was the previous entry in this blog.

If you see this man, call 911 is the next entry in this blog.

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