From 1979 through the early 1980s, one of the most dangerous men living in Las Vegas was Larry “Lurch” Neumann. He was one of Frank Cullotta’s crew of thieves, arsonists and killers, known as the Hole in the Wall Gang. The gang served as the muscle behind the Chicago Outfit’s man in Sin City, Tony Spilotro.
Spilotro had earned the reputation as a fearsome gangland enforcer, and got the majority of the notoriety during the mob’s Vegas heyday. But by most accounts, when Spilotro killed it was to protect his or the Outfit’s interests. Neumann, on the other hand, killed when killing wasn’t necessary. He killed because he liked it.
Cullotta first met Neumann while both men were serving time in an Illinois prison. Frank was doing fifteen years for robbery; Neumann had been sentenced to over 100 years for a triple murder. His victims were a bartender and a female employee in a Chicago tavern, and a newspaper vendor he bumped into on the street outside the bar.
As incredible as it sounds, Neumann was released on parole after serving only about 11 years. Cullotta was already out of prison and had joined Spilotro in Las Vegas before Neumann got out, but the two men kept in touch by phone on occasion. After unnecessarily killing a jeweler during a robbery, Neumann moved to Las Vegas and signed on as part of the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Neumann returned to Chicago every once in a while. One time he went back to settle up with a guy who had gotten into a beef with his ex-wife. He found the man and his girlfriend in a lounge and shot them both dead. The man died because Neumann felt he’d shown him disrespect. The woman – the mother of two children - died just because she was there.
In Vegas, Neumann wanted to murder a fellow gang member he didn’t like, but Spilotro and Cullotta refused to grant approval for the hit. He also was intent on killing the wife of a guy who was planning to testify against Cullotta and Spilotro. Again, his two bosses denied him. The husband-turned-witness was murdered by Cullotta, but his wife was spared.
In 1982, Cullotta himself rolled and became a government witness. His testimony was instrumental in convicting Neumann for the murder of the Chicago jeweler. This time the killer drew a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Larry Neumann died in prison in January 2007.