Vegas mayor accused of helping
mob associate as payback for
past (and present) client referrals
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 29, 2003
laws enforced during day only
Fire Lane becomes valet parking area
after dark (note sign on wall)
LAS VEGAS - City of Las Vegas Fire Inspectors and Mayor Oscar Goodman
are being accused by a business owner of selectively enforcing the Las
Vegas Fire Code as a favor to a politically influential topless bar owner
and his friends.
On May 1, 2002, bar owner Rick Rizzolo purchased the Industrial Road
shopping center that houses Allstate Auto and Marine, a business owned
by Buffalo Jim Barrier located at the same address since 1978. After purchasing
the strip center, Rizzolo's first order of business was to try to cancel
Barrier's long term lease and evict him to make way for an expansion of
his bar. Two judges sided with Barrier and he remained in business. Rizzolo
then took a different course of action. He allegedly asked a favor from
his friends at city hall.
Rizzolo associate Joey Cusumano and Goodman
Rizzolo has stubbornly refused to buy out Barrier's remaining nine year
leasehold, so Mayor Oscar Goodman was allegedly asked to jump into the
fight as a possible payback for past favors.
Rick Rizzolo's name surfaced in early 2003 when the FBI and IRS conducted
a joint raid
of his business based on suspicions that he is a front for the Chicago
mob. Many of Rizzolo's mob associates
were once high paying clients of Oscar Goodman when he was a criminal defense
attorney before being elected Mayor of Sin City in 1999. Therein lies the
alleged quid pro quo.
Immediately after Rizzolo
took possession of the 2.6 acre property for which he paid $5.5 million,
Barrier discovered Las Vegas Fire Department FIRE LANE - NO PARKING signs
posted on the side of his garage. For over twenty five years the Fire Lane
had been located along the fence on the south side of the alley that adjoins
Barrier's business. Then the Fire Lane was suddenly and without notice
moved to the north side of the alleyway where Barrier's customers had previously
been allowed to park along the wall of the building.
When several regular customers accidentally parked in the newly posted
space, three tow trucks suddenly appeared on the scene while Rizzolo and
several men watched and took photographs.
City dispatched tow trucks remove Allstate Auto customer's cars
and associates (left). Ralph Rizzolo photographs tow trucks (right)
Later that day, Barrier photographed the same space being used by Rizzolo
as a valet parking lot with no sign of tow trucks. He called the Fire Department
Crazy Horse customer's cars valet parked in fire zone
The next morning, Fire Inspectors Stickler and Paul visited Barrier's
business and removed the signs from the wall and placed them back on the
fence. They told witnesses that the Fire Lane belonged on the other side
of the alley. However, that same afternoon Stickler and Paul returned,
and to Barrier's dismay, re-mounted the signs on the side of his garage.
When questioned, one Inspector reportedly said, "Mr. Rizzolo is politically
influential." The next day, a six-inch wide red stripe was painted around
Barrier's business along with orange cones and saw horses displaying additional
NO PARKING warnings to his customers.
Rizzolo's barrier around
When asked about the situation, Barrier, a former pro wrestler responded,
"This is really chicken shit. Why doesn't Rick just buy me out? Somebody
downtown must owe him big time!" In the meantime, city parking enforcement
scooters patrol the private parking lot several times per day threatening
to ticket Barrier's customers, while ignoring patrons of the topless bar.
Buffalo Jim Barrier
Barrier states that he's concerned for the public's safety in the event
of a fire during times in the evening and late night when the Fire Lane
is used for bar patron's parking and all emergency vehicle engress/egress
is blocked. He asked Inspectors Stickler and Paul to make an inspection
during those hours, but was refused.
Front of bar during day
when city issues tickets
Front of bar at night when city ignores fire code
Barrier believes that some LVFD and City Parking Enforcement officials
are harassing him at Goodman's behest as a favor to Rizzolo and his friends
including mobster Joey Cusumano. Cusumano was credited with introducing
Goodman to most of his former criminal clientele, and has long been suspected
of having hidden ownership in the Crazy Horse. Goodman self financed his
first successful run for Mayor with money garnered from defending criminals
-- many referred to him by Cusumano. Rick Rizzolo refers
to Cusumano as his "best friend in the world."
In October 2001, following allegations of narcotics sales, credit car
fraud, prostitution, robberies, beatings, and a wrongful death at the Crazy
Horse, Mayor Goodman invited me to meet with him in his City Hall office.
He began the meeting by stating that he was "not doing any favors for Joey
Cusumano," though I did not bring up Mr. Cusumano's name. Following our
meeting, Goodman entertained
Cusumano in his home, and refused
to stop the well
documented problems at the Crazy Horse.
These events cause me to believe that the Mayor -- or his family --
may still be on the mob's payroll. Both of Goodman's sons are attorneys
and have taken over their father's former criminal law practice and 4th
Barrier pays only thirty-three cents per foot for his 10,000 square
foot garage and says he could not find comparable space for less than $3
per foot in the immediate area. In order to stay in business, he sued Rizzolo
for harassment. The case is pending trial.
In 1999, Rizzolo expanded
his bar by 6,000 square feet without building permits or additional parking.
The city, under direction of Goodman's predecessor Mayor Jan Jones,
issued permits several months after the addition was complete and only
after nearby property owners threatened to sue
the city. However, the city did not require additional parking thereby
causing overflow into the adjacent residential neighborhood prompting property
Christoff to write to the city Fire Chief and Jones' successor, Mayor
Goodman. His certified letter stated:
Enclosed please find a letter dated September 15, 1999, addressed
to Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff Donahue and copied to Mayor Oscar Goodman.
I am writing directly to you because, to this date, I have not received
a reply to my previous letter. I believe that an emergency overcrowding
condition exists at The Crazy Horse Too, 2476 Industrial Rd., an adult
orientated business located near my property in Meadows Village.
I am in the transportation business so I often take patrons to this
establishment, and in doing so I have observed what I believe is serious
overcrowding on numerous occasions. As a former Bostonian, I can't help
but remember the horrible Coconut Grove nightclub fire of 1941 that killed
over 300 people in an overcrowded room with inadequate exits.
The Crazy Horse Too appears to be seriously overcrowded on the many
occasions I have observed. I have also observed 50 - 100 persons waiting
outside while cars and busses blocked emergency vehicle engress/egress
to the building.
This business recently expanded by an additional 6,000-sq. ft. without
obtaining permits until after construction was completed. The addition,
which was stated to be for a private employee "dressing room," was immediately
observed being used by the public with no additional parking space provided.
Therefore a reexamination and enforcement of the fire capacity and
parking requirements is warranted at the Crazy Horse Too. The bar's limited
parking facilities cause cars and busses to overflow into my neighborhood
that often park illegally on private property creating a traffic and safety
hazard requiring tow-aways. The most serious offenses occur after 9 PM
on weekends especially on Holidays and convention dates.
Please enforce fire capacity laws at the above establishment before
someone is seriously injured or killed. Consider this letter a forewarning
of a serious threat to the safety of the patrons of this establishment.
If fire capacity numbers were at one time miscalculated or ignored, it
is now imperative that such fire capacity limits be recalculated and enforced
before a disaster occurs.
Neither Mayor Goodman nor the Fire Chief responded to Mr. Christoff's
In the meantime, city parking enforcement personnel continue to harass
Barrier's customers during the day while ignoring Rizzolo's illegally parked
customers at night.
"Parking Enforcement Officer T. Young asked me if I was going into the
Crazy Horse? When I told him I was there to get my truck fixed, he threatened
me with a ticket if I didnít move," said a regular Allstate customer.
Lt. Karen Coyne of City Parking Enforcement stated that her division
enforces 24 hours per day, but had no explanation when asked about the
dangerous situation at the Crazy Horse Too after dark. "Maybe it would
be better for us to make contact with the management or ownership if the
problem is occurring at night. There certainly is more of an issue relating
to this problem at night than there is during the day," she stated.
Parking Enforcement does not initiate new patrols on private property
but does respond to requests for enforcement of Fire Lanes on private property
when made by the Las Vegas Fire Department, and that is what occurred in
this instance according to Coyne. Coyne then said she would get back to
me after she talked to Crazy Horse management about the problem.
She never called back.
Several months later after nothing had changed, Lt. Coyne was questioned
about the apparent ongoing selective enforcement, and the placement, removal,
and replacement of the Fire Lane to the north side of the alley. The Lieutenant
referred all further questions to the office of Mayor Goodman.
In the meantime, Goodman sponsored two ordinances to benefit his friends
at the Crazy Horse Too. One was to allow the bar to expand
within 1000 feet of another adult business. The other was to allow teenage
strippers to work in city liquor bars, specifically the Crazy Horse. During
the same period, KVBC TV, Channel 3 News reported that the Crazy Horse
generated over 700 police responses in a three year period including 9
for assaults and 6 for robbery complaints involving bar employees.
Crazy Horse floor managers
On February 21, 2003, the day following
the FBI raid of the Crazy Horse, Mayor Goodman paid an unexpected visit
to my home.
Goodman and Miller in front of
writer's home (American Mafia photo by Mike Christ)
Standing in the street in front of my house, a
nervous Goodman told me he would not legally challenge Rizzolo's liquor
license because he did not want to interfere with a federal investigation.
Since then, numerous additional beatings, credit card frauds, and a shooting
have been reported at the Crazy Horse -- incidents that could have been
prevented had Goodman taken action.
In contrast to Goodman, Clark County Sheriff Bill
Young in August 2003, referred
to Rizzolo as a "person of ill repute."
"Operation G Sting," which began at 5 AM, Thursday,
February 20, 2003 with the raid of Rizzolo's bar, has so far resulted in
criminal indictments of four top Las Vegas elected officials one of whom
has already pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. Rick Rizzolo is also expected
to face criminal indictment after the first of the year along with one
or more elected officials who are suspected of doing him favors. It has
been mentioned that Oscar Goodman's former law firm may represent Rizzolo
if he is indicted.
Ironically, the expansion plans for the Crazy
Horse have been put on hold pending the possible indictments. Sources in
the Las Vegas office of the FBI would not confirm nor deny if Oscar Goodman
is a target in the criminal probe of Rizzolo.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com