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GALLERY: Habana Libre Hotel Havana

The casino in the hotel was leased for $1 million a year to a group consisting of Roberto "Chiri" Mendoza, his brother Mario Mendoza, Clifford "Big Juice" Jones, Kenneth F. Johnson, and Sidney Orseck. Roberto Mendoza was a wealthy Cuban contractor and sugar planter who was a business associate of President Batista; Mario Mendoza was a lawyer; Orseck was an attorney from New York; Johnson was a senator in the Nevada state legislature and Jones was a former lieutenant governor of Nevada who had ownership interests in a number of Las Vegas casinos. Hilton officials said that 13 groups tried to lease the casino and 12 were "turned down because they either had underworld connections or had refused to subject themselves to rigid investigation. " Speculation surfaced that the murder of Gambino crime family boss Albert Anastasia in October 1957 was tied to his interest in securing an ownership stake in the Hilton's casino. Roberto Mendoza and Santo Trafficante Jr. , who had substantial gambling interests in Cuba, were both in New York at the time of Ananstasia's murder. The police investigation of the murder focused on this theory for a while but later looked at other theories. The murder was never solved.

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