City grants Treasures a permanent license
The battle of the
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 21, 2005
It was early 2000 when I received a call from a source on the tenth
floor of Las Vegas City Hall telling me that Presidential advisor Sig
Rogich was wandering the halls. Its not uncommon for persons with big
connections to be given Carte Blanche when it comes to making
unannounced visits to local public officials, but it was Sig's purpose
that most intrigued me.
MAYES / LAS VEGAS SUN)
Rogich was part of George W. Bush's original election team. Also that
year he was trying to peddle an office building he had owned for many
years located on a parcel of land that was highly visible from
Interstate 15. Sig had received an offer from Texas based gentleman's
club owners Ali and Hassan Davari, an offer considerably above market
value for an office building.
Because the Davari's had something much more lucrative in mind, their
dream would take as much political juice with the Mayor and Council as
the juicemeister could wrangle. It would also obviously require top
secrecy for Rogich to stay in the good graces of Mr. Bush.
As soon as I heard that Sig Rogich was lobbying for a topless bar
license in order to up the value of his land, I wrote one of my
E-Briefs on the subject. Within the hour Sig called to ask why? I told
him that a Presidential advisor lobbying politicians to obtain a liquor
license for a topless bar was very newsworthy. He asked if I thought he
had the right to ask for zoning that would bring his land up to its
"highest and best use?" He brought up the fact that I own land on which
a gentleman's club is located and also benefit from my land's highest
and best use. I agreed that he had every right, but questioned his
timing especially while he was advising a candidate running for
President of the United States? When I ask him why he couldn't wait
until the election was over, the call abruptly ended.
The cat was out of the bag. Several days later the story hit the
Washington Post. Consequently, Sig was reportedly removed from the Bush
campaign. But that's only the beginning. Sin City was about to witness
the battle of the juice machines.
During the Council meeting that granted
the adult use license, Councilman
Michael McDonald mysteriously left just before the item was called.
McDonald is a close friend of the person who would be most impacted by
the competition Rogich proposed.
After the meeting, McDonald began to sneak around City
Hall asking peculiar questions such as how was it determined that
Rogich's property was outside the 1,500 foot circle separating adult
businesses from schools and churches, and what if a church were to open
within that circle prior to construction of the gentleman's club?
McDonald quietly ordered staff to remeasure the distance from a nearby
school. Had he not done so over a weekend, his order may have gone
unnoticed, but when reporters learned of staff working overtime at the
whim of an elected official, the story began to gain interest. The
remeasure confirmed that the property was just outside the 1,500 foot
Undaunted, plan-two immediately went into effect and a "pop
up church" opened in a warehouse located across the street from the
Church for Life Enhancement" began holding Sunday services during the summer of 2000 --
part of an obvious scheme intended to squelch Rogich's sale. But when
the name of the church's female Reverend was revealed by an inquisitive
Las Vegas SUN reporter, her bible suddenly hit the fan!
(L to R) The Reverend Annette
Marie Patterson, Ralph & Bart Rizzolo
listen to FBI agent during raid of their topless bar on February 21,
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Mike Christ)
The Reverend Annette Marie Patterson's pulpit
was standing directly in the way of a fifty million dollar gentleman's
club! But who was this woman of God? Was she actually doing the Lord's
By total coincidence, the Reverend
was none other
than the God fearing sister of Rick Rizzolo,
the owner of the nearest topless bar.
aging topless bar
It was now becoming obvious that forces within City Hall
were out to secretly scuttle Rogich's land sale, forces emanating from
the office of Mike McDonald, a Rizzolo
sycophant who pretended to be a friend of Mr. Rogich.
Rogich, always the gentleman, remained
silent, but somehow the story of Reverend Patterson was
splattered all over the newspapers within a day. So was the secret pact
between McDonald and the Reverend's brother. At the time, Rizzolo
wanted the City or State to use its power of eminent domain to remove a
time neighboring business to make way for the expansion of his
topless bar. However, the Rizzolos didn't need the adverse publicity,
nor did they want to anger the all powerful juicemeister at such a
sensitive time, so they denied any involvement.
Soon, the "church" was removed, and construction on Treasures began.
But that didn't end the problems.
After Treasures opened, Rizzolo's aging bar was drained of business.
Soon, the City of Las Vegas and the Metropolitan Police Department
descended exclusively on Treasures finding all manner of infractions.
In the meantime, Dateline NBC did an expose' on
violence at Rizzolo's bar while the FBI and IRS gathered evidence to
close it down and jail its owners.
Rizzolo and Al Rapuano
photo by Mike Christ)
But the City and Metro focused only on Treasures during the Summer of
2004. Also that Summer, Rizzolo's business was the subject of Federal
Grand Jury testimony from a local attorney and a San Diego tourist who
both said that during the month of August they
were threatened or beaten up there. However, the City and
Metro turned their backs on the beatings and adverse TV exposure with
the Mayor going so far as saying "I did not see that" when asked if he
watched Dateline NBC's
schocking segment. The officials were obviously too preoccupied with
Treasures to care about what was happening just down the street.
Also by coincidence, Rick Rizzolo employs a number of former criminal
defense clients and possible future clients of the law firm owned by
the Mayor, his partner, and his sons.
To no one's surprise, Treasures was closed down by the City on
September 15, 2004. Also to no one's surprise, business immediately
returned to normal at Rizzolo's bar.
Seeing the writing on the wall and knowing how Sin City officials can
abuse their power, I began writing INSIDE VEGAS articles
about Treasure's closure and soon received a request to meet with the
Inside the closed nightclub, I gave them two suggestions:
That they fire their Vegas attorney because he was obviously more
interested in maintaining friendships with the Mayor and Council than
serving his client's needs. And, that they immediately sue the City
Council in Federal Court for selective enforcement
using the Dateline NBC
segment as evidence, something their local attorney refused to
show during the license revocation hearing possibly for fear of
offending the Mayor and his associates, some
who may need a good
criminal defense attorney in the near future.
Treasures management did as I suggested and the tables began turning in
Then, in an unrelated incident
on January 19, 2005, FBI and IRS
agents arrested Rizzolo's
swing shift manager
for racketeering and income tax evasion. A few
weeks later, Rizzolo's right
walked out, possibly to become a Federal witness. The
front page stories said more indictments are iminent.
All of a sudden, Rizzolo's juice machine went dry and polticians began
giving him the cold shoulder.
The Davari's new out of state attorneys sued the City of Las Vegas in
US Federal Court for selective enforcement. A local judge ordered the
Council to schedule a new license hearing. Fearing a court loss for
their questionable actions, the Council on Wednesday, February 16 voted
to grant Treasures a permanent license. Treasures reopened
for business at 8 PM that evening and dropped their federal law suit
the following day.
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