Born New York, NY, April 2, 1893.
Died New Orleans, LA, Aug. 16, 1962.
Born in New York City, Kastel became a stockbroker and involved himself in fraudulent stock sales through "bucket shop" rackets. In 1921, he led the brokerage firm of Dillon & Company into bankruptcy while writing numerous large checks from drained company accounts. When the company failed, it had about $3,000 in assets and debts to customers in excess of half a million dollars. An investigation followed in 1922, and Kastel disappeared. He turned up in San Francisco and was brought east to stand trial. After delays and two unsuccessful trials, Kastel was convicted April 17, 1926, of fraudulent use of the mails. He was sentenced to serve three years in federal prison but was released on $20,000 bail pending appeals.
Half a year later, he was convicted of first degree grand larceny, in connection with the stock frauds. A sentence of between three and a half and eight years in state prison was imposed for that offense. He was freed on $40,000 bail while he appealed that verdict. Kastel's federal appeal was lost in December 1927.
At the end of the Prohibition Era, Kastel reportedly served as president of a liquor distributing business. He and Frank Costello imported the King's Ransom brand of Scotch whiskey. By 1934, he also was linked with Costello in the operation of slot machines in and around New York City.
When New York City's LaGuardia administration seized slot machines from around the city and destroyed them, Kastel and Costello decided to move their gambling rackets south to Louisiana. Kastel became the point man for Costello-run casino and slot machine gambling.
In 1946, local New Orleans officials duplicated New York's anti-gambling campaign of the previous decade, forcing the Costello-Kastel operations outside the city limits.
Kastel and Costello created and ran the Beverly Club casino in Jefferson Parish, just beyond the New Orleans line. In the 1950s, the Kastel-Costello partnership also opened the Tropicana in Las Vegas (other partners in that venture reportedly included New Orleans crime boss Carlos Marcello and entertainer Jimmy Durante). Nevada officials delayed the 1957 opening of the Tropicana until Kastel severed his official ties with the casino.
Aging and in poor health, Kastel reportedly took his own life in 1962. Reports indicated that he had been ailing for several months and was losing his eyesight. He required the attention of a private nurse at the Claiborn Towers Apartments on Canal Street. On August 16, 1962, the nurse heard a gunshot and then found Kastel dead.