He was born Frank Cullota on December 14, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois. He entered Steinmetz High School in 1953. He began his decades-long criminal career as a teenager, graduating from petty theft to burglary, armed robbery, arson and murder. While growing up he had an argument with another boy over a dispute over who could sell newspapers on a certain street, the boy's name was Anthony Spilotro. The two then became friends and criminal allies when they found out their fathers worked together. Spilotro went on to become a made man and feared enforcer of the Chicago Outfit. Cullotta's father died on 1947 in a car crash during a high speed police pursuit.
Sherwin "Jerry" Lisner Murder
On October 10, 1979, he murdered Sherwin "Jerry" Lisner, for providing information to the police regarding crimes that Lisner, Tony Spilotro and he had committed. Cullotta asked Spilotro to ask his superiors for permission to commit the murder. Cullotta enlisted the help of his friend Wayne Matecki from Chicago, who flew over to assist Cullotta with Lisner's murder. He called Lisner and told him that he had to talk to him alone, and Lisner invited him to come over to his house. Cullotta went inside while Matecki waited in the car. Cullotta began talking to him inside the house and then attempted to move Lisner away from the front door by getting him to inspect a strange noise. Cullotta then shot Lisner in the back of the head twice with a .22 caliber handgun. A chase then ensued through the house. Cullotta then proceeded to get on top of Lisner, and Lisner claimed his wife knew that Cullotta had come to visit. Cullotta then attempted to strangle Lisner with the cable of a water cooler, but the cable eventually snapped. By this time Matecki had come inside most likely to investigate what was taking so long. Matecki held a pillow from the couch over Lisner's head, Cullotta reloaded the gun and then emptied the handgun into Lisner's head. They then proceeded to dump his body in the pool in the backyard. Matecki and he then went back inside and cleaned all the blood off the furniture and floor, after which they searched the house for documents with Cullotta and Spilotro's names on them, as well as security cameras and recorders, of which they found none. Matecki then flew back to Chicago the same night.
Hole in the Wall Gang
In 1979 Anthony Spilotro started a gang that operated out of a jewellery store Spilotro owned. The crew had several members including Spilotro's brother Michael Spilotro, Cullotta, Matecki, Laurence Neumann and many others. The crew became known as the Hole in the Wall Gang because of its penchant for gaining entry by drilling through the exterior walls and ceilings of the buildings they burglarized. The gang committed many burglaries made large amounts of money through stolen items. In 1981 following a botched burglary at Bertha’s Household Products, Spilotro, Cullotta, Matecki and several other members of the Hole in the Wall Gang were arrested and each charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted grand larceny and possession of burglary tools. Cullotta then became a government witness and admitted to the FBI that he had arranged the murders of James Miraglia and Billy McCarthy, known as the "M & M Murders," on behalf of Tony Spilotro, Cullotta also admitted to the 1979 murder of Jerry Lisner, he also provided them with information regarding other burglaries. By this time Cullotta and Spilotro's friendship was already on bad terms, for example in one episode Cullotta and Spilotro had an argument at Cullotta's house in which Spilotro produced a handgun and attempted to shoot Cullotta however the gun jammed. The Las Vegas authorities discovered that Spilotro was aware that Cullotta had provided the FBI with information regarding the M & M Murders and various other crimes. Spilotro ordered Laurence Neumann (a member of the Hole in The Wall Gang) to kill Cullotta and Matecki. Neumann attempted to post bail for Cullotta and Matecki, the police then revoked the bail, as they knew Neumann would kill them if they were released. In September 1983 Spilotro was indicted on murder and racketeering charges, with Cullotta being the key witness. However Spilotro was acquitted of the charges, as the judge did not believe Cullotta's testimony (in 1992 the judge was convicted for taking bribes). Neumann was also tried and was given life imprisonment for conspiracy to commit murder. In November 1983 stolen property was discovered at Cullotta’s home and he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Murder of the Spilotros
In 1986, Chicago Outfit boss Joseph Aiuppa arranged to have Spilotro murdered for causing trouble and attracting unwanted attention from the authorities. In January 1986, a meeting was held at the Czech Lodge in North Riverside. Spilotro and his brother Michael attended the meeting. They told Spilotro that his brother was going to be made at the meeting. They were then led to the basement. They saw several men in the basement in workmen's outfits and gloves. They then realized they were going to be murdered and asked if they could pray. They were then beaten to death with fists and feet, and their bodies were taken to a cornfield in Enos, Indiana where they were buried.
Life After Crime
Martin Scorsese's 1995 film Casino is based on the lives of Spilotro and Frank Rosenthal. Cullota — renamed "Frank Marino" — was portrayed by actor Frank Vincent in the film. He was hired as a technical advisor for the movie; he also played a small role as a hitman by the name of "Curly" who carries out several murders, one of which is similar to the 1979 murder of Sherwin "Jerry" Lisner. Cullotta is now an accomplished author and has written several books such as Cullotta and The Life of a Chicago Criminal. In 2009 the book Cullotta help name Larry Neumann as the murderer in a 27 year old double homicide that went cold. Larry Neumann was part of Frank Cullotta's Hole in the Wall Gang. That lead to one of the victims sons publishing a book about Frank Cullotta's help in naming the murderer called Murder In McHenry.