New book offers mobster insights that you can’t refuse

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On September 26, 2023

The namesake of a character in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Moe Sedway, is the focus of a new biographical book that delves into the historic Las Vegas mobster scene.

Bugsy’s Shadow: Moe Sedway, “Bugsy” Siegel, and the Birth of Organized Crime in Las Vegas, the latest book by Missouri S&T researcher Dr. Larry Gragg, will be released Oct. 1. Gragg’s book is published by the University of New Mexico Press.

The book chronicles how mobster Moe “Little Moey” Sedway became a part of a New York City organized crime gang led by Meyer Lansky and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Sedway moved up through the organization to become a casino manager for the Las Vegas Club, El Cortez and the Rex Club.

“Moe was always there in the background with Bugsy Siegel,” says Gragg, a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus and university historian at Missouri S&T. “If you wanted a casino run well, you got Moe. He had a monopoly on the wire service, which distributed horse racing results to Las Vegas, and made all the other casinos come to his group for use.”

Sedway eventually had a falling out with Flamingo Hotel owner Bugsy Siegel, and minutes after Siegel’s unsolved murder, Sedway and fellow mobster Gus Greenbaum took possession of the Flamingo Hotel. The merger of their names is believed to have inspired the name “Moe Greene,” a fictional character in both the novel and film The Godfather.

Gragg says that the book is titled “Bugsy’s Shadow” because Sedway was always there to carry out whatever job Siegel wanted done. He says that Siegel’s death allowed Sedway to flourish on his own after long being overshadowed in the annals of organized crime.

“On his own, Moe was a big factor in the way mobsters would act moving forward, as he was one of the first to present himself as a normal, law-abiding citizen,” says Gragg. “Sedway figured that gambling was legal in Las Vegas, so whatever he was doing to run the businesses must be on the up-and-up. He helped fund community projects, helped grow the Jewish community in the city and he even ran for a seat on the city commission.”

About Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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