The Con Men of Las Vegas Part II

The Boiler Room Operator Who Made It Big

The Boiler Room Promised a “Big Screen TV” –
What Customers Got was a Magnifying Lens

Part I of this post is about the early history of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, specifically his early career as, reportedly, a Vegas boiler room operator.

The info in that post and this one comes mainly from Zengrifter, an acquaintance of mine for over 30 years, who started his own boiler room career in Vegas in the ’70s, when Sisolak started, and heard of Sisolak from the late Ron Schroeder (the king of Vegas boiler rooms; see below) in the early ’80s.

There is no question that Zengrifter is an expert in this topic and there is no question that Zengrifter was working at boiler rooms in Las Vegas in the 1970s.  You can find more info on Zengrifter as well in Part I.

I asked why Sisolak would have moved to Las Vegas in the mid 1970s, when the town was dominated by the mob and provided little opportunity for anyone but gangsters and con men.  Now Zengrifter has returned with more info about Sisolak’s early history in Las Vegas.  You can find the original here.

[Note:  A “boiler room” operation is a room equipped with telephones used for making high-pressure, usually fraudulent, telemarketing sales pitches.]

A little more background on Sisolak and the Vegas boiler rooms …

By the early ’70s boiler rooms in southern Nevada had become a very robust industry. Some operations sold office supplies with a hidden kickback inducement to the company purchasing agent, who typically worked for mid-sized and larger companies and could authorize a purchase order for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars — huge orders of staples and pens and so forth. The sales were made on a net 90-day pay basis, typical of the industry.

One of the product categories in the office supplies catalog that never got any traction was advertising specialties: pens and calendars and the like imprinted with the company’s name.

At that point in time, the biggest boiler room operator was a former commercial plumber from Milwaukee named Ronald Schroeder, with whom I was close. Ron was well-connected in Milwaukee and many rounders[1] out of Milwaukee flocked to Vegas to join this new semi-underground growth industry.

Schroeder’s company was called 50 States Distributing, and one of his salesmen had a eureka moment and showed Ron that the advertising specialties could be bigger than office supplies, and open up a huge market of small businesses — florists, bakeries, gas stations and such.

It might only be a coincidence that Steve Sisolak also hails from Milwaukee, but he first got into that sales racket while going to school in Vegas in the late ’70s.

The untapped market for advertising specialties was huge, and Ron’s company and its spin-offs were ordering thousands of rural yellow-page phone books filled with small business owners who had never ever gotten a phone call from out of state, let alone Las Vegas, to sell them something.

At the time that Sisolak first entered the game (around ’77) the pitch was an ingenious “misprint” angle, with no prizes:

“John I’m calling you with something of an emergency, I own a company in Las Vegas that does the advertising specialties for all the big hotels and casinos here.

“I just had a big order cancel on me, a large floral arrangement business in San Francisco that HAS THE SAME NAME AS YOURS: Big Valley Florist, they went bankrupt, and we’ve already printed the first line of advertising, the name, on ten thousand of our best quality ballpoint pens!

“If you could please help me and take some of these off my hands I can print three more lines of advertising plus your logo, and I’ll sell them at my cost and pay for the shipping. Can you please help me, John?”

The Vegas ‘adspec’ industry had exploded so big that by ’76 when the biggest timeshare sales resort in the country, the Las Vegas Carriage House – backed by Teamsters’ Morris Shenker – did $21 million in sales (20% down and payments for 5 years), Schroeder’s company did $26 million, COD.

Needless to say, organized crime quickly got its hooks into this burgeoning industry.

By 1981 Schroeder had reached an impasse with regulators in 20 states, but not Nevada of course, and he made a sweetheart consent deal to leave the industry with a slap on the wrist.

At that point in time, Sisolak, I believe with a little help from shadowy friends, reconstituted Ron’s little empire. The name changed from 50 States Distributing to American Distributing Co. and the pitch angle changed from a misprint to a major prize sweepstakes.

Note:  In Part I of this post Zengrifter said that he had it on good authority that Sisolak’s American Distribution Co.’s sales inducement was based on a faux instant sweepstakes. For example, the boiler room brokers would tell a customer he’d won a “big screen TV.”  A few weeks after the sale the prize would arrive – a magnifying lens to affix to the front of the TV set.  What they had actually “won” was not a big screen TV, but rather a big TV SCREEN!

I think it’s easy to see why Harry Reid promoted Sisolak to governor in 2018.  As I’ve said before, Nevada is a fake state carny operation.  There are few people who could have been better suited to run the Democrats’ Bat Plague scam here.

[1] Note: A “rounder” is someone whose conduct is immoral or improper.  Doyle Brunson said the term was first used to refer to professional poker players who made their living in illegal poker games. Many early professional poker players made their living in the illegal games by cheating.

You can find more of Zengrifter’s stories about the dark side of Vegas at his website here.

15 Responses to “The Con Men of Las Vegas Part II”

  1. Arnold Snyder

    Culinary Union sues over Vegas casino/hotel reopenings.

    The Culinary Union pension fund, like the Teamsters’, was used to build mob Las Vegas and is the base of Harry Reid’s political machine, so this comes from Reid and the DNC, not the workers.

    Most Culinary Union workers aren’t even back at work, as they are mostly housekeeping and food service workers and the hotels are 3/4 empty.

    They allege “casino hotels have not protected workers, families and community from spread of COVID-19, current rules and procedures for responding to workers contracting COVID-19 have been wholly and dangerously inadequate.”

    The Culinary Union is trying to help Sisolak and the DNC put Nevada in full shutdown again.

    Everyday I wake up and think, nobody wants to hear bad news, come up with something funny or hopeful to post. And everyday my worst fears are confirmed, lol.

  2. Bill

    Remember when democrats where complaining about putting protections in for businesses. Could this be the next stage of the plan to destroy everything.

  3. BennyHill

    IWhen and where I grew up things were bad, like now. However, as a kid I always gave everything I had to get out of that situation. I had hope that I could improve my life for the better and that a pot of gold was waiting.

    I no longer feel that is possible.

    Everywhere I look, everything is becoming group think or mob rule. Racism is widespread. There are no laws that people will not break or are afraid of breaking. Murder, arson, rape, robbery, attempted murder. No one cares any more about others. Police are being demonized and “defunded” to allow more chaos. History is being erased or rewritten. Up is down, left is right.

    I can’t even go for a walk without entering into the Twilight Zone.

    I have completely lost hope that anything can be accomplished in our country by working together.

    America has fallen. And like it was written it came from within.

    • Arnold Snyder

      Benny, it’s not over yet.

      Imagine what this country would be like by now if the Democrats’ attempt to rig the 2016 election had succeeded and Hillary was president.

      But they lost, we won, we’re going to win in November, and we’re still fighting.

      Think of it this way: They wouldn’t be throwing the sink at the November election unless they were desperate about losing ALL.

    • Zengrifter

      As an enthusiastic conspiracy theorist, I knew from the very start that the chop fluey virus was only a smokescreen scapegoat for something else altogether…
      … First of all, anyone who has been paying attention for the past several years would know that the global economy was long overdue for a giant historical correction of biblical proportion. The shutdown was global, they are all in on it, so shut everything down and blame the collapse on the virus.
      … The scare of the bug has teed up a majority of the masses to stand in line for the big vaccine jab.
      … And that vaccine will come with an imprinted digital ID, and possibly your very own DNA unique personal blockchain, without which you may be unable to buy things.
      … It’s starting to sound a little bit like Bible prophecy to me, and I’m not even a Christian LOL!

  4. Zengrifter

    Self-errata …
    “Zengrifter … started his own boiler room career in Vegas in the ’70s and knew of Sisolak from that time.”
    Actually, I first heard the name Steve Sisolak from the late Ron Schroeder (correct spelling) in the early or mid 80s.

    Sisolak is seen here defending the “legitimate adspec industry” as recent as 1997 …
    Las Vegas Sun –
    Disconnecting The Telemarketers – (Paras 21-26)

  5. Zengrifter

    .A final errata —

    My initial reply post said “curious SHARED business HISTORY” —
    – For posterity I should have said more accurately, “curious RELATED business ORIGIN.”

    • Arnold Snyder

      ZG, corrections made. But I didn’t change curious shared business history, because you do in fact have a curious shared business history, you both worked in the Vegas boiler rooms of the ’70s and you both knew Ron Schroeder well.



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