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A federal judge Tuesday opened three indictments charging 15...

By ELIZABETH DRAKE

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge Tuesday opened three indictments charging 15 people from four states with conspiracy to skim nearly $2 million from Argent Corp.-owned Las Vegas casinos and distributing it to organized crime interests.

The indictments were the latest released by a specially convened federal grand jury that has spent the past three years delving into organized crime in the midwest and alleged skimming practices at Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

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The grand jury sealed the indictments Sept. 30.

U.S. Attorney Robert Ulrich said the indictments alleged the 15 defendants conspired from 1974 to the present to establisO and maintain the hidden interest in the casinos and that during the course of the conspiracy the defendants distributed nearly $2 million from the casinos' profits to organized crime interests.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Stephens Jr. officially opened the indictments at noon and read them to reporters crowded into the federal courtroom.

The indictments named defendants from Chicago, Kansas City, Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada and included:

John Phillip Cerone, 69; Joseph Lombardo, 54; Anthony Chiavola Sr., 64; Anthony Chiavola Jr., 35; Angelo LaPietra, 52, all of Chicago.

Also Carl Angelo DeLuna, 55; Carl James Civella, 73, and Peter Joseph Tamburello, 51; Salvatore Manzo, all of Kansas City; Milton John Rockman, 75, Beachwood, Ohio.; Frank Peter Balistrieri, 64; Joseph Phillip Balistrieri, 43; John Joseph Balistrieri, 34, all of Milwaukee, Wis.; and Anthony John Spilotro, 45, and Carl Wesley Thomas, 51, all of Las Vegas.

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The defunct Argent Corp., a firm heavily laced with Teamster Union pension fund loans, was formerly owned by San Diego financier Allen Glick. Argent at one time owned the Stardust, Fremont, Hacienda and Marina hotel-casinos in Las Vegas.

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