Author Dennis N. Griffin, whose work in the real crime genre included several highly regarded books relating to organized crime in Las Vegas, has passed away.
Griffin, 75, of Verona, New York, died of cancer on Monday, said Faith Finster Griffin, his wife of 46 years.
Griffin’s books include a biography of Frank Cullotta, a former lieutenant of Chicago gangster Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro who became a government witness, and a book exploring the real story behind the 1995 film “Casino.”
Griffin’s books are “an incredibly valuable resource for anyone interested in the subject of crowds in Las Vegas,” said Geoff Schumacher, vice president of exhibits and programs at the Mob Museum.
“They are detailed, they are well documented and they are just plain accurate,” said Schumacher. “There are a lot of people who work in the real crime genre for whom the facts are optional. But, along with Dennis, he’s always focused on telling a good story and telling a precise story. “
Griffin was born in Rome, New York, as the only child of Walter and Dorothy Kraeger Griffin. He attended the Rome Free Academy before enlisting in the US Navy, where he served for four years.
In a biography on his website (dennisngriffin.biz), Griffin wrote that he retired in 1994 after a 20-year career in law enforcement and investigations in New York City. He will eventually publish more than a dozen books after creating a new career as an author specializing mainly in real crime and cold affairs.
He wrote his first novel, “The Morgue”, based on real events in 1996 and his first non-fiction book, “Policing Las Vegas – a History of Law Enforcement in Southern Nevada”, in 2005.
It was early in 2005, Griffin wrote, that he decided to examine the real story behind the acclaimed 1995 film “Casino,” a fact-based dramatization of the era of British involvement. crowd in Las Vegas. His book, “The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob ”, was released in 2006.
In 2007, he published “Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness”. He eventually co-authored four books with Cullotta and wrote non-fiction books that examined crime and justice here and in other parts of the country.
Griffin rounded out his non-fiction with a fictional trilogy starring a team of Las Vegas homicide detectives and, in a change of tone, co-wrote “House Party Tonight: The Career of Legendary Saxophonist Don Hill,” a biography of the longtime member of the pioneer lounge group. The Treniers.
Faith Finster Griffin said that at first, her husband’s choice of literary genre and subjects was baffling. When her husband started working with Cullotta and it was time to have an in-person meeting, “I said, ‘No, not at my place,’” she said.
“Then I met Frank. Frank and I became great friends, ”she said.
Dennis Griffin “helped create the Frank Cullotta who became known to the public after his criminal life ended,” Schumacher said.
Orlando “Ori” Spado and Griffin went to the same school in Rome, New York, and got to know each other growing up. Spado tells his story in “The Accidental Gangster: From Insurance Salesman to Mob Boss of Hollywood”, co-written by Griffin. Spado said Griffin brings honesty and tireless research to his work.
“He wasn’t afraid to make the phone calls needed to do the research. One thing about working with Dennis, Dennis was only printing the truth. Otherwise, he wouldn’t write it.
Griffin is survived by his wife; daughters Margaret Carro and Antoinette Mahoney; stepchildren Pamela Ashley and Robert McAree; five grandsons, two granddaughters and five great grandchildren. His stepdaughter, Kimberly McAree, predeceased him in 1986.
Services and burial will take place in Rome, New York.