|The Cal-Neva Lodge|
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Elmer Bones Renner was a gangster from San Francisco who owned the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. He also owed the IRS $800,000 in back taxes, so ownership of the Cal-Neva passed to another hood named Bert "Wingy" Grober, who also ended up with his own set of tax problems. With the IRS after him, Grober placed the Cal-Neva up for sale.
Sinatra owned nine percent of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, and to own a stake in a Nevada gambling establishment, an individual had to have a state gambling license, which Sinatra had obtained in 1954. This license later allowed him to be able to buy into the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe. However, the state of Nevada maintained what was called the Nevada Black Book, which contained the names, photographs and criminal records of 11 men who were forbidden from entering any casino in the state. Casino owners who allowed any of these people into their establishments risked losing their licenses. Sam Giancana was one of the 11.
On July 13, 1960, it was announced to the newspapers that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hank Sincola and Skinny D'Amato had applied for permission from the state of Nevada to take over the lodge. What didn't make the papers about the deal, was that Sam Giancana and the Chicago outfit would own a secret percentage in the Cal-Neva and that it was Giancana's influence that persuaded Wingy Grober to sell the place off for the extremely reasonable price of $250,000. What also didn't make the newspapers about the deal, was the FBI assumption that Sinatra was nothing more than a front in the Cal-Neva for New York's mob boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno.
Giancana's interest in the casino, was solely to keep next to Sinatra, who was trying, desperately, to keep next to Kennedy, which everybody in the Chicago outfit wanted. Dean Martin saw the mob's interests in the casino would cause trouble and pulled out of the deal early in the peace. Sinatra was convinced that the Cal-Neva could be turned around and went ahead with the deal.
Giancana had pulled strings to get Sinatra a $1.75 million loan to refurbish the Cal-Neva Lodge. Whenever he was in Nevada, Giancana was always careful to stay out of the casinos, knowing that federal agents kept a close watch on them, and at the Cal-Neva Lodge, Sinatra made sure that Giancana was kept out of sight in luxury.
To draw attention to the place, on opening night, Sinatra's guests included Marilyn Monroe, Joe Kennedy and his son John. Also there that weekend was Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Uninvited and hiding up in the hills around the casino lodge, was Hoover's FBI.
What the agents couldn't see was what went on inside the Cal-Neva's secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Sam Giancana reportedly told his brother, that he had been present at a Kennedy brothers slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. "The men," he said, "had sex with prostitutes--sometimes two or more at a time--in bathtubs, hallways, closets, on floors, almost everywhere but the bed."
On June 30, 1962, an intoxicated Chuckie English, a Giancana hood, staggered out of the Armory lounge and bumped into one of the FBI agents tagging Giancana. English told the agents that if "Bobby Kennedy wants to know anything about Momo all he had to do was to ask Sinatra." The agent reported the conversation back to Hoover who brought the comment to Robert Kennedy's attention, who told Hoover to increase the FBI's surveillance on Sinatra and the Cal-Neva. The casino was already being investigated because they suspected that the casino's manager, Skinny D'Amato, was running a state wide prostitution ring out of the place. The agents suspected that the women were being flown in from San Francisco with the operation being run openly from the hotel front desk.
Then, a few days after the Chuckie English fiasco, there was the attempted murder of a Cal-Neva employee who was shot on the front steps of the lodge. No one knows if it was mob related or not, since the incident was hushed up. On June 30, 1962, Deputy Sheriff Richard Anderson came to pick up his wife, a former girlfriend of Sinatra’s, at the lodge where she worked as a waitress. Anderson had noticed the way Sinatra stared at his wife and heard about the rude remarks he made to her and warned the singer to stay away from her. Sinatra backed down and apologized and promised to leave the woman alone. On the night Anderson came to pick up his wife, as he stopped by the kitchen to talk with some of the help there, Sinatra came in, saw Anderson and ran up to him and screamed at him, "What the f*** are you doing, here?" Anderson remained calm and said he was waiting for his wife, then, suddenly, while the cop was still in mid sentence, Sinatra grabbed him and tried to throw him out, and after a brief wrestling match, Anderson ended up punching Sinatra so hard in the face that he couldn't perform on stage for a week.
Several weeks later, on July 17, 1962, Anderson and his wife were driving down Highway 28, not far from the Cal-Neva, when they were driven off the road by a late model maroon convertible with California plates, driving at high speeds. Anderson lost control of his car, skidded off the road and smashed into a tree, killing him instantly. His wife was thrown from the car, and suffered severe broken bones and fractures. Anderson's parent said: "We still think to this day that Sinatra had something to do with our son's death."
But Sinatra's troubles with the Cal-Neva weren't over yet. A few days after Anderson was murdered, and one week before her own death, Marilyn Monroe flew to the Cal-Neva at Frank Sinatra's invitation. He told Monroe that he wanted to discuss their upcoming film together, “What a Way to Go”. Monroe didn't want to go, but someone told Marilyn that Bobby Kennedy would be there.
Sinatra flew Monroe out on his own plane along with Peter Lawford, although he was no longer speaking to Lawford after the Kennedys dumped him, and Lawford's wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford. Exactly what happened that weekend at the Cal-Neva, isn't known and may never be known. Louis McWillie said: "There was more to what happened up there than anybody has ever told. It would have been a big fall for Bobby Kennedy."