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Vegas man's goal: Getting off Nevada's infamous Black Book

March 28, 2013|By John M. Glionna
  • Frankie Citro Jr. has lived in Las Vegas since the late 1960s and is one of a few dozen people whose names are listed in the Nevada Gaming Commission's so-called Black Book and therefore barred from entering casinos.
Frankie Citro Jr. has lived in Las Vegas since the late 1960s and is one of… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

LAS VEGAS — All his life, Frank Citro Jr. has taken care of business.

He grew up in Jersey City, N.J., working as a tough guy known as Frankie. With his wrecking-ball body, he provided muscle for the collections industry. In the 1980s, he did two years in prison for his part in a racketeering scam.

For the last 23 years, Frankie has stayed out of trouble, yet he remains a member of Nevada’s infamous Black Book, a list of people banned by state gaming officials from entering any of the state’s casinos. For life.

In Thursday’s Los Angeles Times, Frankie talks about plans to petition officials to get off the list while he’s still alive. Casino regulators acknowledge that any such request would be the first since the book was established in the 1960s. One regulator says Frankie should stay on the list.

Now 69, Frankie discusses the frustrations of life in a gambling mecca not being able to walk into a casino. It’s like going to Disneyland and being ordered to stay off the rides.

His wife, Cookie, who works as a casino dealer, says Frankie used to love seeing the oldies lounge acts on The Strip. Now he can’t bear to hear about them: “He’s frustrated,” she says. “He waves me away. Why hear about things he can never go see?”

Critics dismiss the blackball list as a public relations ploy designed to give the false impression that regulators are keeping Nevada free of crime and corruption.

These days Frankie struggles to find work as a carpenter and plumber, knowing many potential employers will give him the bum’s rush if they find out about his inclusion in the book.

In his free time — and there’s lots of it — Frankie helps out with benefit causes, providing bands for concerts. He’s played Santa Claus for sick kids.

And he waits for the day he can once again walk into a Nevada casino.

“Frankie has stayed out of trouble,” said his attorney, Michael Lasher. “Vegas is such a fishbowl. If he did slip up, something would have come of it.”

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