A new theory has emerged regarding the motive in the still-unsolved December 6, 1971 Detroit mob murder of high-ranking Jewish crime family associate Sol (Good Looking Solly) Shindel, which happened 44 years ago this week in suburban Southfield, Michigan. The 52-year old Shindel, one of the city’s biggest Jewish bookmakers and hoodlums in the 1960s and early 1970s, was shot to death inside his own house while under indictment and facing trial in two racketeering cases, three days after returning to Detroit from a casino gambling bender in Las Vegas.Towards the end of his life, he headquartered his operations out of the Anchor Bar in downtown Detroit on Fort Street, still today a longtime staple of Motor City after-work watering hole culture.

The common theory has pretty much always been that the debt-ridden Shindel was clipped because of his pending legal troubles and the Vegas gambling escapade, which some have speculated was done with money he stole from his superiors in the mafia and he hoped he could return without anyone noticing after winning back the money he owed. Exclusive Gangster Report sources now reveal that in actuality the Shindel hit was the result of a simple desire to grab control of his lucrative bookmaking business by then-rising star mobster Ronald (Hollywood Ronnie) Morelli, the No. 1 suspect in the slaying since Day 1 and a Shindel strong arm and confidant.

“They (the mob) killed Solly cause Ronnie wanted his book, that’s it, it was that simple,” one source said. “Ronnie was a sneaky bastard. He saw Solly exposed and used it to his advantage.”

Morelli and Shindel were close friends and Morelli’s name has always been associated with the never-cracked inquiry into the Shindel murder, but many have long believed Morelli was acting on orders, not guilty of orchestrating the contract, as these new sources adamantly assert.

Jailed on unrelated charges in 1981, Morelli died in prison in the summer of 1986 of a heart attack, just three months away from being released. The handsome and ambitious Hollywood Ronnie, a well-known ladies man and the ace protégé of iconic Detroit mob street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, had been the leader of a “Young Turk” contingent in the crime family in the late 1960s through the late 1970s when he was promoted to acting capo of Giacalone’s crew in 1979 after Tony Jack was sent away to the can due to extortion and tax evasion convictions. Sources tell Gangster Report, reputed modern day Detroit LCN Godfather Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone, Tony Jack’s nephew, looked up to and idolized Morelli as a young hood and that if Morelli was still alive he’d most likely be the boss of the Family today, not Jackie the Kid.

According to Michigan State Police records, Morelli was “made” into the mafia in a 1974 ceremony, with the Shindel hit acting as part of him “making his bones.” The Shindel slaying was part of a series of mob-related murders that marked the beginning of the decade in the 1970s in the Detroit area, a number of which Morelli’s name surfaced as a suspect though never birthed any charges – the year after Shindel was bumped off, Morelli was a suspect in the 1972 murder of syndicate strong arm, Gregory (Little Pete) Katranis. Detroit mob associate Joe Bozied was killed in a car bombing the same exact day Shindel’s body was found in 1971.

At the time of Shindel’s death, Morelli and a Morelli running buddy Robert (Bobby the Animal) La Puma, were his collectors. La Puma, 78, currently retired from his days in the mob living in Colorado, discovered Shindel’s body. Like Morelli, La Puma was a suspect in multiple gangland homicides, however has never faced any charges related to murder. He was imprisoned on drug-dealing charges in the late 1980s.

A military veteran who served in WWII, Solly Shindel was mentored in the local rackets by Matthew (Mike the Enforcer) Rubino, a capo in the Detroit mafia and the man responsible for looking after syndicate “founding father” Peter (Horseface Pete) Licavoli’s interests in Detroit following Licavoli leaving Michigan for Arizona in the 1950s. Rubino was known as a capable hitman, beloved, feared and heavily respected both locally and nationally. It was Rubino’s incarceration in 1969 for tax evasion that opened the door for Shindel’s murder in the years to come, per sources.

Under Rubino’s protection, Shindel ran large sports books out of the Cavalier Club and the Northwest Men’s Social Club (attached to the old Round Table Restaurant), as well as overseeing floating backdoor card and dice games for the Rubino regime. FBI agents watched as Shindel shuttled cash tribute from Mike the Enforcer to then-Deetroit mob acting boss and underboss, Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli and Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, respectively, at the Hazel Park Race Track, which Zerilli and Tocco co-owned, and to Pete Licavoli down in Arizona at his opulent Grace Ranch estate..

Upon Rubino’s imprisonment, Shindel was “farmed out” to the crime family’s fearsome Giacalone crew, according to FBI records, and teamed with the Giacalone’s top Jewish bookie, Charles (Chickie) Sherman. For the next two years, Shindel and Sherman, with Ronnie Morelli and Bobby La Puma acting as their main muscle, had the biggest bookmaking operation in the city.

Chickie Sherman owned the Anchor Bar, a tavern located within walking distance from both city’s major newspapers and the federal courthouse, and him and Shindel could be found holding court there on a daily basis. Morelli and La Puma spent most days at the Bachelor’s Quarters, another bar located outside of the downtown business district. Sherman, Shindel, Morelli and La Puma were all federally indicted in May 1971 on gambling charges. Shindel, Morelli and La Puma were indicted again two months later on state extortion charges out of suburban Oakland County.

Gangster Report sources say Shindel had begun drinking and gambling heavily around this time and Morelli used the erratic behavior and the pair of cases hanging over their heads as an opportunity to get in Tony Giacalone’s ear about taking him out.

“Ronnie was chewing Tony Jack’s ear that entire year, he convinced Tony Jack that Solly was a liability,” one source said. “But Solly was solid, he wasn’t going to flip and the money he owed could have been a big deal with some people, but Solly was high enough up the food chain that it wouldn’t of mattered. When Mike Rubino got shipped out of town, Solly had no more protection, he was living on borrowed time. These guys are fucking sharks. Ronnie smelled blood in the water and pounced.”

On the morning of November 30, Shindel, Morelli and La Puma had a court date for their extortion case. That afternoon, the three of them hooked up with Giacalone crew bookie Allen (the General) Hilf, former Purple Ganger and major narcotics traffucker Sam (Sammy the Mustache) Norber and Chickie Sherman’s brother Alan (Al the Toupee) Sherman and took off for Las Vegas. Checking into the Dunes Hotel and Casino on the Vegas Strip, they went straight to the dice table and Shindel dropped a quick $10,000. It was more of the same after that.

“He (Shindel) was in deep within the first three hours he hit the Strip,” said one source in Vegas that week. “Some people were saying he skimmed the till with Tony Jack’s money and took it on the trip to try to win back what he already owed and get it back to the Giacalone crew without anybody noticing. Solly was throwing around a lot of cash, living it up like he didn’t have a care in the world. I don’t think he slept the whole time there.”

By the end of the three-day jaunt to the desert, Shindel was in the hole roughly $60,000, owing markers at five different hotel and casinos around Las Vegas when the group returned to Detroit on December 3. That evening Shindel, Morelli and La Puma were observed by an FBI surveillance squad at the Bachelor’s Quarters. Shindel had dinner on December 5 with his 25-year old girlfriend at the Scotch & Sirloin, an upscale restaurant close to his home, and then was last seen alive at the Bachelor’s Quarters on the afternoon of December 6 – Good Looking Solly was married to a woman from New York, whose family was tied to Gambino crime family factions in Queens and per state police documents, would often use Morelli at “The BQ,” owned by Detroit Mafioso Augustino (Little Augie) Giordano, to move stolen merchandise.

La Puma told police he went over to Shindel’s house that night and found him dead, shot in the face, after Shindel had missed a meeting. There were no signs of forced entry. Mob associate and white supremacist Eugene (Mean Gene) Szymanski was named in police reports as a possible triggerman or backup in the hit crew allegedly arranged by Morelli.

Once Shindel was out of the way, per sources, Morelli gobbled up his gigantic bookmaking operation and went partners with Allen Hilf. A master handicapper, Hilf grew the book to one of the biggest in the country and parlayed his tight friendship with Jackie Giacalone to a placement and stature within the Detroit mob no non-Italian had ever achieved before. Hilf died of kidney failure in 2014. Tony Giacalone died of natural causes back in 2001 while under a federal racketeering indictment. Mike Ruino, Shindel’s rabbi so to speak, was felled by a sudden heart attack in prison in 1972.

Giacalone, his hand-picked protégé and former bodyguatd Morelli, Hilf and Shindel were all present at the 1968 Detroit Police raid on the Carleton House, a gambling den ran by Giacalone associate and Jewish gangster Cesar Adler, where the cops found loaded dice being used by Adler to cheat his fellow wiseguy clientele. Adler was found dead in the trunk of his car in a suburban shopping mall parking lot in the months following the raid.

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