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Mafia Conference in Havana, Part 4
Luciano then brought up the subject of the `boss of bosses` title in which he `casually mentioned` that he felt it was time for him to don that designation. Anastasia stood up to second the notion, but not before glaring over at Genovese. `For me, you are the Big Boss, whether you like it or not. Thatís the way I look at it, and I would like to hear from anybody who donít feel the same way.`

There was silence in the room. Luciano claims, `That was all I was after Ė first, to teach Vito a lesson in public without him losiní face and also to get the title without haviní to fight for it. So I won my first point, and frankly, I didnít give a shit what happened after that.`

For the next order of business, Luciano informed the others that he had heard rumors of infighting between Anastasia and Genovese. He told the two adversaries that they needed to work out their differences in order to avoid the problems that occurred between Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, which resulted in the Castelammarese War in 1930-31.

He next spoke about his feelings regarding the narcotics trade. `I told Ďem I want Ďem to get the hell outa that business, to stop it right then and there, and to forget it.` This admonition fell on deaf ears. As the discussion continued about the huge sums of money that could be made from drugs, Luciano could see this was a conflict he was not going to win. Soon Costello leaned over and whispered, `Charlie, donít hit your head against the wall. Vito rigged it before the meet started. Try to get out of it as soon as you can. Someday, theyíll all be sorry.`

This discussion was followed by what Lansky introduced as `The Siegel Situation.` Benjamin `Bugsy` Siegel had not been informed of, or invited to, the meeting mainly because he would be chief among the topics covered. Sent out to the West Coast in the mid-1930s to oversee the New York mobís gambling and labor racketeering interests, Siegel quickly became a Hollywood mob celebrity. He later became preoccupied with constructing a grandiose hotel and casino in the small town of Las Vegas in Nevada, a state that had legalized gambling. Working through Lansky he got the New York mob to finance the Flamingo. The original cost had been calculated at $1.5 million. However, a year later, either through the bungling or dishonesty of Siegel, the price tag had risen to $6 million.

Although not yet completed, Siegel set a date of December 26, 1946 for the casinoís grand opening. Lansky reported he had information that Siegelís girlfriend, Virginia Hill, had been making trips abroad to deposit money in a Zurich bank account. Although friends since childhood, Lansky said he believed his old partner would skim even more money and possibly flee the country if the Flamingo was a bust.

Luciano says a vote was taken, minus Lansky and Phil Kastel who were both Jewish, and it was decided that Siegel, also Jewish, was to be killed. The contract was given to Charles Fischetti of Chicago to be carried out by Los Angeles Family boss Jack Dragna. In a possible attempt to save Siegel, Lansky suggested that they wait until after the grand opening, which was just days away.

by Allan May, from crimemagazine.com
Article ID 227
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