Undercover agents taking part in the FBI's Abscam operation strung along a reputed top Florida organized-crime figure last fall, making him think they would front for him in the purchase of a Las Vegas casino.
A tape recording of the Abscam agents and Miami attorney Alvin I. Malnik, was played here today at a hearing of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, the agency that licenses Atlantic City casinos.
The commission is in its fifth week of hearings to consider whether to give Caesars World Inc. a permanent license to run its Boardwalk Regency casino-hotel in Atlantic City. The states's Division of Gaming Enforcement, which investigates casinos, recommended against giving a license to the Los Angeles-based Caesars and its chairman, Clifford Perlman, because of several real estate deals they have entered into with Malnik.
In an Oct. 27, 1979, tape recording played today, Malnik -- who law enforcement authorities say is a close associate of reputed underworld financial wizard Meyer Lansky -- explained a deal in which the FBI undercover agents, who he thought to be representatives of an Arab sheikh, would buy the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas for $105 million and front for Malnik in running it.
Malnik consistently has denied having underworld ties.
Howard Criden, a Philadelphia attorney convicted of taking bribes in unrelated Abscam cases, was the one who put the undercover agents in contact with Malnik, according to other Abscam transcripts reported by The Trenton (N.J.) Times.
Besides Malnik and Criden, others taking part in the talks played today were FBI agent Anthony Amoroso, who was using the name Tony DeVito, and Mel Weinburg, an FBI informant and middleman.
"The problem is gonna occur in the licensing," Malnik said, explaining that he and unnamed associates could not list themselves as owners of the Aladdin because their reputations would bar them from holding positions in a Nevada casino.
During the 51-minute conversation which was said to take place in a Hallandale, Fla., apartment, Malnik said that the prospective casino investors had to pay unnamed associates of Malnik $10 million under the table. i
"The people who are going to receive it will never under any circumstances be identified or acknowledged as having received it," Malnik said. "It's sensitive as hell."
Malnik also repeatedly promoted a Las Vegas businessman, whose name was edited from the tapes by New Jersey officials, to be casino manager if the deal went through.
Malnik and the undercover agents discussed at length a plan under which they would buy the Cricket Club, a plush North Miami condominium complex co-owned by Malnik.
The Cricket Club has played prominently in the casino control commission hearings. State investigators criticized Caesars Chairman Perlman for becoming a principal investor with Malnik in the Cricket Club in the early 1970s.
Under criticism from Nevada and New Jersey officials, Perlman sold his interest in the condominium complex in 1977 at a large financial loss to himself.