Greed in the Desert: The Murder of Herbert Blitzstein

Oct 14, 2009 - by Allan May - 0 Comments

Herbert Blitzstein

Herbert Blitzstein

At 300 pounds, Chicago mobster Herbert Blitzstein looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. Instead it was three bullets to his head that stopped his heart. As his profits from loan sharking and auto insurance fraud were piling up in Las Vegas, crime families in Los Angeles and Buffalo asserted their claim.

by Allan May

When Chicago mobster Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro was sent to Las Vegas to oversee the Chicago Outfit's interests, he brought along some people from Chicago to provide muscle for him. One of them was Herbert Blitzstein. At six foot, 300 pounds, he was known as "Fat Herbie," or the "Fat Hebe."

William Roemer, in his book The Enforcer, states that Blitzstein was one of the mobsters the FBI tested during the early days of the FBI's Top Hoodlum Program. At the time Blitzstein lived on the far northwest side of Chicago with his third wife. He was a flamboyant dresser and drove a 1973 white Cadillac Eldorado.

Blitzstein's early rise in Chicago came at the expense of others. In 1967, Arthur "Boodie" Cowan, a bookmaker, and an associate of Blitzstein was found in the trunk of his car with a bullet in his head. It was believed Spilotro had put it there because Cowan had been withholding "street tax." When Henry Kushner, another bookie, was sent to prison by the FBI, Blitzstein took over his customers, as well as Cowan's.

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