A white supremacist and reputed hitman-for-hire was a top suspect in the December 6, 1971 gangland slaying of Detroit mob associate Sol (Good Looking Solly) Shindel, gunned down inside his suburban home on the heels of a reckless gambling spree in Las Vegas and under indictment in a pair of racketeering cases . The Shindel homicide has never been solved, but has long been tied to the Zerilli-Tocco crime family’s Giacalone crew.

At the time of his murder, the 52-year old Shindel was one of the biggest bookmakers in the state of Michigan and worked for Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, the menacing then street boss of the mafia in Detroit. Tony Giacalone and two of his lieutenants, Ronald (Hollywood Ronnie) Morelli and Robert (Bobby the Animal) LaPuma, have always been prime suspects in the Shindel hit. LaPuma and Morelli were Solly Shindel’s collectors. Morelli was Giacalone’s mob protégé. The trio of Mafiosi were hauled in front of a federal grand jury to answer questions regarding Shindel’s murder in the winter of 1972.

One theory in the Shindel homicide probe is that Giacalone and his men outsourced the job to Eugene (Mean Gene) Szymanski, a multiple-time convicted violent-felon and someone once referred to as the Godfather of the white supremacist movement in Michigan. Szymanski — seen in this article’s cover photo — led the Southeast Michigan wing of the White Warriors, a racist hate group operating throughout the Midwest.

In the months after Shindel turned up dead in his Southfield, Michigan residence, a confidential informant told authorities that Szymanski bragged to him about killing the stylish, outspoken Jewish bookie the day after it occurred. According to police records, Szymanski, today 74 years old and behind bars for an unrelated crime, did muscle work for the Detroit mob’s now-defunct Monroe, Michigan crew back in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a suspect in more than one murder in the Monroe area during that time. Monroe is 45 miles south of Detroit, located near the Ohio border.

On the afternoon of December 7, 1971, in the hours following Shindel popping up dead, Szymanski and several of his White Warriors sat around a kitchen table in a Detroit apartment as word of the slaying was reported on the local television news. Per one of the White Warriors present who was also a state police informant, after the newscast went to a commercial, Szymanski turned the rest of the room and boasted of his involvement.

“When they want a job (like the Shindel hit) to be done, who do you think they go to?…..Gene Szymanski that’s who,” he reportedly said.

A year later, Mean Gene Szymanski was arrested for shooting a Hamtramck, Michigan police officer and did a decade in prison upon his conviction. Released in 1983, he stayed clear of the can until 2002 and his arrest for shooting an unarmed patron in front of the Gold Coast Club in Detroit where he was employed as the club’s head of security – Szymanski was sentenced to 10-to-30 years for the incident and currently has a maximum out-date of March 2030.

Bobby LaPuma found Shindel’s body lying dead on his living room floor at around 8:45 a.m. the morning of December 7 – he was shot in the face, head and neck. The tall, burly and imposing LaPuma often chauffeured Shindel around town and had been scheduled to pick him up that morning for a set of meetings and collection stops.

LaPuma and Morelli, a well-known twosome of up-and-comers in that particular era of the Motown underworld, had accompanied Shindel on a short vacation to Las Vegas in the days before he was slain. Per FBI records, Shindel ran up nearly six-figures in gambling debts on the trip and was rumored to have skimmed some of the money he took with him to the craps table in Vegas from the Giacalone crew till back in the Motor City.

Shindel had other problems too. Legal problems.

Earlier in the year, he was indicted by the feds for a giant bookmaking ring being run out of downtown Detroit’s famous Anchor Bar. That October, he was slapped with state extortion charges. LaPuma and Morelli were co-defendants of his in both cases. Informants told the FBI Morelli urged Giacalone to green light a hit on Shindel so the handsome, swaggering Morelli could grab control of Shindel’s sports book for himself. Shindel was left exposed by the imprisonment of his mob mentor Matthew (Mike the Enforcer) Rubino the previous summer.

Tony Giacalone died of kidney failure in 2001. He did seven years in prison for extortion and tax evasion (1979-1986) and was under federal indictment for racketeering when he passed away. Morelli dropped dead of a heart attack on a prison handball court while in the final months of his own prison bid for racketeering in 1985. LaPuma, 80, is leaving in retirement on the west coast.

Related Post

Leave a Reply