INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 6, 2004
Rizzolo has a good name in the community. --
Judge Nancy Saitta, 03/15/01
Judge Nancy M. Saitta
accepted over $9,000
in contributions from
Rizzolo and friends
told her (Moncrief) early on that if Steve Miller is involved with this
in any way, then I'm out. She assured me that Steve Miller was not involved
during the campaign. She gave me the indication that she never has been
involved at any time with him. -- Tom
Letizia, Rick Rizzolo's advertising representative, 06/19/2003
Oscar Goodman talks on phone to
as campaign coordinator Tom Letizia
(AARON MAYES / LAS VEGAS SUN)
not putting other sexually oriented businesses on trial.
I don't know that our industry
that big of a problem. -- Councilwoman
Janet Moncrief on shutting down Rizzolo's biggest competitor, 09/17/04
Councilwoman Moncrief and attorney
Rick Wright at her Initial Arraignment
before Judge Saitta, September
(SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN)
LAS VEGAS - Its not exactly the aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open
fire. The odor currently permeating the desert air smells a lot more fishy
than traditional Holiday fare. At a time like this when our minds are full
of good cheer, its always easier to slip one by on us, and that might be
our fate come December 15, if we don't pay attention to our sense of smell.
Back during the Spring 2003 Las Vegas City Council election, I was promised
by then-candidate Janet Moncrief that
if elected, her first order of business would be to bring an end to the
at Rick Rizzolo's Crazy Horse Too topless bar. She promised me that she
would sponsor a license revocation (Show Cause) action as her first official
I was thrilled to think that if I helped her get elected, I could help
her stop the credit card rip offs and beatings at the infamous strip bar,
the subject of too many INSIDE VEGAS columns. She also went so far as to
promise me the position of Chief Ward Liaison in her City Hall office if
I helped her campaign. Though I was overqualified for the City Hall job,
I gladly accepted her offer in advance of the election knowing I could
provide her advice as to how to put together an effective Show Cause action,
something I had done many times in past years. I also wanted to get back
into local public service,
something I coveted for over 25 years
of my life.
After working every day for almost four months on her tumultuous campaign,
Moncrief emerged the victor on June 7, and I soon found myself watching
in horror as she transformed into a clone of the man she replaced, Mike
McDonald, the subject of an FBI investigation
into political corruption involving strip clubs including the Crazy Horse.
On June 13, 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L.
that Moncrief had hired Tom Letizia, Rizzolo's "advertising
representative," to be her "transition team leader." Meanwhile, she
Michael Squires of the Review-Journal, "I'm not going to hire Steve
Miller, I don't even know him."
Letizia is best known for raising $1.5 million for the unopposed reelection
Oscar Goodman, the former criminal defense attorney for a number of
Rizzolo's associates. Letizia also produced a July 3 after-election fund
raiser for Moncrief, even though she didn't need the money according to
her falsified contribution and expense reports.
After reading Smith's column and Moncrief's remarks, I knew I'd been
duped. I couldn't help but feel like a horse that had been ridden hard
and put away wet. I immediately decided to turn state's evidence to try
to stop her from doing our town any further damage.
Because of my efforts, on August 6, 2004, Moncrief was indicted
on five felony counts. She was arraigned on Sept. 9 in the District Court
of Judge Nancy M. Saitta. The charges include filing false campaign finance
reports and perjury, each carrying a five year prison sentence if proven.
I am the state's key witness. (Click here
for the full story)
Moncrief's transition team leader-cum-Crazy
Horse Too advertising representative-cum-mayoral campaign coordinator
Tom Letizia is happily married to the daughter of Fred Glusman. Mr. Glusman
on April 10, 2002, donated $5,000 to
Judge Nancy M. Saitta's reelection campaign, then on June 11, he donated
a "Special Event" for her at his mobbed-up
and source of the proceeds generated at the Piero's event were not delineated
on the judge's financial disclosures and were not required to be under
Nevada law. As is customary and legal in Nevada politics, the public is
not entitled to know who attends private fundraising events as long as
the money is accounted for in campaign finance reports. Altogether, Judge
Saitta received a little over $120,000 in campaign contributions in the
not all. Glusman's best customer Rick Rizzolo donated $4,000 to Judge Saitta's
first campaign in 1998. Together, its estimated that Glusman and Rizzolo
gave Judge Saitta way over $9,000 in campaign contributions and fundraisers
during her six years on the bench. Of course, that doesn't prove a quid-pro-quo
because many elected officials have high ethical standards, and many campaign
contributors want nothing in return other than honest government.
do occur in Sin City.
On January 4, 2004, Councilwoman Moncrief issued a press
release challenging her council colleagues to defend "honest government"
and shut down Cheetah's,
one of Rizzolo's closest competitors.
Then in September, she was at it again. Moncrief led
the charge to shut down another close-by Rizzolo competitor, Treasures.
In the meantime, Rizzolo's business -- moribund since the September 2001
beating of Kirk Henry -- began to
While Moncrief was trying to shut down Rizzolo's competitors, the bloodshed
continued at the Crazy Horse Too, also located in her ward. When asked
if she was singling out Treasures, Moncrief blatantly told
reporters "We're not putting other
sexually oriented businesses on trial. I don't know that our industry
is that big of a problem."
"That big of a problem?" Dateline
NBC on August 8, let us know just how big a problem we have by
doing a segment on the violence at Rizzolo's place of business. Even after
millions watched the shocking program, Mayor Goodman told a reporter, "I
did not see that." Councilwoman Moncrief was unavailable for comment.
Moncrief's transparency inspired a recall
drive that effectively used several INSIDE VEGAS articles
as ammunition. The articles reminded voters of the councilwoman's new-found
friendship with Rizzolo's cronies. The recall petition is expected to exceed
the minimum number of required signatures and a special election is anticipated
as soon as January. This, while her February 7, 2005, criminal trial approaches.
Now to that fishy smell.
Moncrief's criminal defense attorney Richard Wright is well known for
defending wayward politicians. Wright filed a WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS petition
on her behalf that was scheduled to be heard on November 15 in Judge Saitta's
court, but the hearing was continued after Nevada Attorney General Brian
Sandoval filed a 60 page OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS PRETRIAL WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS. This may be a blessing for Moncrief because it postponed the hearing
until December 15, smack in the middle of the Holiday rush.
Attorney Rick Wright defending
ex-councilman Mike McDonald
(SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN)
The prosecution of Janet Moncrief may be Sandoval's last official duty
as Nevada's Attorney General because he was recently appointed to a federal
judgeship to begin in April.
Attorney General Sandoval
(Las Vegas SUN)
The most common usage of a WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, something usually
filed by persons serving prison sentences, is to appeal state criminal
convictions to the federal courts when the petitioner believes his or her
constitutional rights were violated by state procedure. Mr. Wright's petition
is an unusual use of such a WRIT because the petitioner is not incarcerated.
Moncrief was indicted by the unanimous vote of the state Grand Jury, booked,
but not jailed.
The Councilwoman is so hopeful that Wright's petition will rid her of
the criminal indictments, that on December 1, she told
a reporter "...my indictment might be thrown out Dec.15." If this occurs,
it would certainly bolster her chances of retaining her office
in the January recall election! Based on the interesting connection
between Judge Saitta, Tom Letizia, and Rick Rizzolo, she might just be
must admit that my theory that the judge is somehow beholden to Moncrief's
supporters is somewhat flimsy. But sometimes circumstantial evidence wins
trials; people are usually judged by the company they keep; and sometimes
judges are less than objective when big campaign money is at stake.
This is the judge who in 2001 made Rizzolo's next door neighbor
Jim Barrier pay Rizzolo's attorneys $4,500 because Barrier's lawyer
showed up late for court.
This is the judge who said "Mr.
Rizzolo has a good name in the community" just before dismissing a racketeering
lawsuit against him on the same day she sanctioned Barrier $4,500.
This is the same judge who instructed the jury that Scott David Fau's
1995 beating at the hands of Crazy Horse bouncers had nothing to do with
force trauma" death two hours later. Fau's widow could not afford to
hire a pathologist to explain to the jury how such injuries can cause death
hours after head
trauma. And though there was a purported eyewitness to the event, Judge
Saitta allowed Rizzolo to sue the witness for defamation in a separate
case assigned to her court. To no one's surprise, the sued witness failed
to show up to testify at the Fau wrongful death trial. When Mrs. Fau's
attorney asked to play a taped statement from the witness, Judge Saitta
denied the request and the jury had no choice but to rule that no wrongful
But who am I to second
guess an esteemed member of the Vegas judiciary?
As far fetched as a WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS dismissal of Moncrief's five
felony counts might be, it can be granted at the whim of a District
Court judge. Reporters will be closely watching the December 15 hearing
to see if this occurs. If not, I anxiously await being called to Judge
Saitta's witness stand on or about February 7, to testify in STATE OF NEVADA
vs JANET MONCRIEF.
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