Morris "Mo" Shenker, a St. Louis-based hoodlum lawyer and casino owner, has been in the news lately even though he died in 1983. He was featured in a front-page story in the New York Times on February 3 and in Politico on January 31.
Shenker, lawyer for late Teamsters mobster Jimmy Hoffa as well as numerous other racketeers, had great influence over the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, which was a source of unsecured loans for Mafia figures, often pursuing projects in Las Vegas.
The Teamsters fund was tapped by the late San Diego lawyer Irvin Kahn, a close Shenker friend. Kahn used the dirty capital for, among other things, developing Rancho Peñasquitos and parts of University City and Clairemont, along with several bowling alleys.
Kahn and Shenker owned the 47-acre Murrieta Hot Springs resort, just over the San Diego County border. Hoffa is said to have been seen at Murrieta 48 hours before his disappearance in 1975. There is still debate whether Hoffa might have been buried at Murrieta or at Carlsbad's La Costa, which was developed by Vegas mobsters.
Shenker is in the news because Andew Puzder has been named by president Donald Trump to be Secretary of Labor. Right out of law school, Puzder joined Shenker's law firm. By that time, Shenker wasn't practicing law; he was concentrating on his Vegas casino, the Dunes. Thus, Puzder had some choice cases, despite his youth. At age 30, Puzder defended Shenker in a major case. Shenker was said to be a mentor to Puzder, who left law to head CKE Restaurants.
Kahn was the son of a bootlegger and initially wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. Then he got into real estate, lapping up the tainted Teamsters money. Some say that at one point Kahn's developments involved 25 percent of the developable land in San Diego. Not surprisingly, since dirty money is so prominent in pro sports, Kahn was one of the owners of the Padres when they were a minor-league team. So was C. Arnholt Smith, the banker and "Mr. San Diego," according to the San Diego Union, who was an early financier of La Costa and other dubious projects.
Puzder's congressional hearings have been canceled four times. They were scheduled for February 7 before another delay was announced.