Joseph Agosto

Joseph Vincent Agosto (born 1927- died August, 1983) was an associate of the Kansas City crime family who later became a government witness.


Agosto was born Vincenzo Pianetti in 1927. He assumed the name of Joseph Vincent Agosto after he immigrated to the U.S. Agosto came to Las Vegas by way of Seattle. He got into the Tropicana Hotel and Casino by assuming the title of manager of the Follies Bergere show. He was an employee of the production company, not the hotel.

In April 1975, Agosto, by then an affiliate of Nick Civella's Kansas City crime family in Missouri, was arrested by U.S. Immigration Services as an illegal immigrant. He quickly obtained the services of attorney Oscar Goodman and beat the immigration charge. Once cleared, he sought help from Civella on how he could best infiltrate the financially troubled Tropicana. With Civella's backing, Agosto proceeded with his plans to gain influence over brothers Edward and Fred Doumani, who owned the Tropicana.

Agosto soon had a voice in the Tropicana's management and operations. Agosto maintained regular contact with Carl DeLuna for guidance and to report on his progress of setting up a skimming operation.

But before the skim started, a snag developed that would stall the gangsters' plans for more than two years. The cash-strapped hotel came under the control of a new majority owner when chemical heiress Mitzi Stauffer Briggs purchased 51 percent of the Tropicana's stock. Briggs didn't trust Agosto. She curtailed his role in running the casino. That prompted an all-out effort by Agosto to gain her confidence. Briggs was allegedly never involved in the skim. By 1977 he had succeeded and was effectively running the hotel and casino.

Carl Thomas of the Kansas City syndicate was "in charge of the crew which stole the money at the Tropicana,". When the operation got going, about $50,000 to $60,000 a month was being sent to the Kansas City mob's coffers. The conspirators were unaware at the time that their homes and businesses were under electronic and visual surveillance by the government. During this time Agosto was secretly sending cash from the casino to Kansas City organized-crime chief Nick Civella and Joseph Aiuppa of Chicago, as well as Cleveland and Milwaukee crime family mobsters.

On Feb. 14, 1979, the day DeLuna's home was raided, the FBI nabbed a courier with $80,000 in skim money. The 11-month run at the Tropicana was over.

Government Witness

Agosto turned government witness in 1983 after a bank fraud conviction in Minnesota. Agosto testified that he took orders from the late Kansas City crime family kingpin Nick Civella.

However, on March 12, 1983, Civella, died never facing judgment for his actions. The remaining defendants stood trial in 1983. Agosto — entered a guilty plea and as part of his plea agreement, became a government witness. Kansas City mobster Carl DeLuna was sentenced to 30 years and Carl Civella got 35 years.

Agosto promised prosecutors he could incriminate numerous Nevada officials and implicate others, Court of Appeals documents show and also told agents that syndicate leaders had asked him and Allen Dorfman to kill Allen Glick with explosives, but the plot fizzled.

Soon after giving testimony in the Tropicana case, Agosto died of an apparent heart attack in August 1983 in Kansas City, Mo.

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