When will Rizzolo Rat?
The days of "omerta" are long gone
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 14, 2004
Vegas is crawling with feds. The FBI's Organized Crime Strike Task
Force is said to have over 80 agents stationed here on any given day
along with a slew of IRS
fraud investigators, most are from the top of their class with many
possessing law degrees.
When did this acute interest in our city begin?
At the outset in 2002, the feds coined "Operation Crazy Horse" as the
name of their local organized crime probe. The Crazy Horse is a local
topless bar suspected of being a front for the mob. But why such an
extensive and costly probe over one topless bar? Who is the "big fish"
they're after? Is the Crazy Horse the tip of the iceberg? Maybe
an event that just happened will help shed some light.
Former New York cop and author Lou
, along with his ex-cop pal Stephen Caracappa, got caught
up in the federal investigation of Vegas' organized crime and stand
accused of taking money to use their badge to kill when they served on
the NYPD. Both ex cops-turned-Las Vegas-retirees currently sit in jail
cells awaiting extradition after being arrested in a local mob hangout
several days ago. Eppolito is the author of "Mafia Cop," and is
featured as a character actor in several Hollywood films including
But would the duo have been discovered if the feds had a lesser
interest in Sin City?
According to the last Sunday's New
York Daily News, "The son of a mob bagman, Eppolito said he grew up
in Brooklyn despising the cops he saw on the take."
In the story "I'm no wiseguy he told Vegas" by Daily News staff writer Helen
Kennedy, Eppolito told a Las Vegas radio audience, "'There was a lot of
them that did not take pride in themselves. They were bought off for
two and three dollars at a time,' he said on KKVV-AM's 'Lou Epton Show'
in an engaging interview the station has played repeatedly."
"'There are crooks. There are bad guys. There are guys in the New
York City Police Department that make the Mafia look like they are
standing still,' he said. 'You weed it out.'"
The Las Vegas radio audience bought Eppolito's story. "At the end of
the radio show, gushing callers couldn't stop calling him 'a good human
being' and begging him to run for office or join the Vegas police," the
NY Daily News reported.
"'I'd like to be a character witness for this guy,'" said host
Epton, who had Eppolito on the show three or four times. "'He was just
so decent,'" Epton told the Daily
If Eppolito was a decent guy and really despised crooked cops, he would
have found plenty to deal with right here in his new hometown. However,
this disgraced cop's arrest may be a harbinger of things to come, but
on a more localized level?
Here in Las Vegas, a dozen or so crooked cops have for over two years
refused to file reports involving the Crazy Horse, a story I always
tell during my dozens of appearances on the Lou Epton show. Ever since
the February 21, 2003 combined FBI and IRS raid
of the club, repeated complaints have been ignored or never taken by
certain local cops and prosecutors possibly as a way to weaken the
This being Eppolito's favorite subject from his NY days and because
he's a well known movie actor, had he been legitimate, he could have
used his background and fame to join law school graduate
and city council tormentor Steven Dempsey at his twice monthly
lashings of the mayor and council.
Dempsey who goes by the nickname "Captain Truth," has for the past
years spoken at every Las Vegas City Council Citizen's Participation
session. Each time he repeats his demand that the mayor bring the Crazy
on a license revocation action. He does this knowing that his demand
embarrasses the mayor
because he cannot offend his former clients; his partner's present
clients; and his two lawyer son's future clients who are about to be
indicted in "Operation Crazy Horse." Dempsey being joined in his quest
by a well recognized movie actor would have driven Goodman crazy and
could have generated local support. But Ippolito had a far different
I recently reported on the Epton show that police allegedly threatened
two persons who claimed to be roughed up for dissing a made man who
worked at the Crazy Horse.
I also reported that a Hollywood movie producer last summer testified
before the Federal Grand Jury that he was threatened with violence when
he refused to sign a bogus credit card bill for $23,000, and that local
police refused to respond. On another program I told of a local
attorney who in August 2004 was threatened if he didn't sign a credit
card slip for over $3,000. He signed, and then told the Grand Jury of
his experience. Evidently Eppolito wasn't listening to any of these
programs or he could have found fodder for another book on police
Eppolito, an avid Epton listener, must have heard one of my regular
appearances. If so, such a "good human being" should have been inspired
to help "weed out" the local cops who were often described giving
high-fives to Crazy Horse bouncers after bar patrons called the police
to report being beaten or robbed.
In Las Vegas, there are many other corrupt but "decent" appearing
individuals who have captured the attention of the feds and the
"gushing" of local citizens. Along with several city
politicians, the DA
several veteran cops and a few judges
are suspected of using their positions to protect the topless bar
suspected of paying tribute to at least one New York crime family, a
place where brutality
is a daily occurrence.
Unfortunately, in Vegas many people spend a lot of time trying to
dispel our shady image of the past while turning their backs on what --
only here -- could be considered a minor abuse of the public's trust.
So what if a few cops are on the take, or a judge makes a bad ruling as
a favor to a campaign
contributor? This is Vegas after all!
Once known as "The Last Resort," Vegas has always been a place to
come and cleanse the sins of one's past. Few in this desert town care
what happened yesterday, its today that counts. We like to give people
a break no matter how shady their past. This is probably why our most
popular politician, Mayor Oscar Goodman, was once the mouthpiece of
some of the most dangerous criminals in recent history, but is today
considered a possible leading contender for Nevada's governorship.
Incidentally, Goodman's business partner David
Chesnoff is Eppolito's criminal defense attorney who says the
highly decorated former policeman is a model citizen. If so, where was
his client when local cops were disclosed being on
the take from Rizzolo's cronies? Was he listening to his favorite
radio program? Chesnoff also represents Vinnie Faraci.
In a town like this its easy to look the other way, even for
Chesnoff's business partner the mayor
who was the criminal defense attorney for Al
Rapuano, one of Rizzolo's bar managers who was recommended for
denial by Nevada Gaming Control authorities who said Rapuano's close
association with Nevada Black Book member Joey
Cusumano and others disqualified him for licensure as a Crazy Horse
key employee. The mayor voted for his former client's license
If Lou Epton's sceptical listeners could be duped by a person such as
Eppolito, then Vegas
citizens continue to be duped by their mayor and DA's inaction in the
Crazy Horse case.
No public uprising, nothing. However the wake up call will soon be
Regarding the Crazy Horse Too topless bar, the stakes are high. The
club's purported owner Rick Rizzolo has often bragged that his business
garners over $27 million per year, and his million dollar credit line
at several Strip casinos supports his claim. Though his run down bar
bears little resemblance in opulence to others nearby, it seems to
generate twice the revenue. Its also suspected of being the town's
biggest whore house and dope den along with harboring a lucrative credit
card rip off
operation and money laundry. No wonder the Horse
breaks all records when it comes to revenue generation and lack of
The pressure is on the Crazy Horse's known and suspected owners to
roll over and identify the actual recipients of what may be tens of
millions per year in cash tributes, some that are allegedly used to
bribe politicians and law enforcement personnel to allow the scams to
Also, the Crazy Horse and Rizzolo are suspected of at least one
murder and several cases of bashing
heads when patrons refused to go along with their alleged credit
card rip off program. The henious deeds alleged at the Horse compare to
those Ippolito and his New York crew are accused of. As in New
York, Las Vegas needs to clean up its act or the feds will do it for us.
This all causes me to speculate that the recent arrests and defections
at the Crazy Horse by Bobby
are part of a squeeze by the feds to generate information
not only about local protection under color of law, but of who in New
York's' crime families might be receiving cash for helping such an
operation to continue unabated?
Former Crazy Horse manager Faraci who is known as a made man, is the
son of "Johnny Green" Faraci, a capo in the imploding Bonanno crime
family -- a family where becoming a federal witness
has become a way of life. And Rocco
, another Crazy Horse executive, is the brother of
former Chicago Outfit boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo. Joey
, another former client of
Oscar Goodman, is suspected of also turning federal witness.
Its not beyond anyone's imagination to think Faraci, D'Apice, and
Lombardo are singing like canaries. The days of "omerta" are long gone.
Is Rick Rizzolo
next? And will he
implicate several well known local public officials?
"Operation Crazy Horse" is here to stamp out the new racket that
replaced the mob's previous skimming operations in casinos -- a new
racket that horny East Coast mob types like a lot better.
Instead of skimming casino cash -- a mostly boring job, now the sons
of those who made Vegas famous in crime stories have found a much more
hedonistic endeavor. Escort services and at least one strip club are
their new venue of choice. Booze, broads, and blood allegedly keep the
goons happy while cash flows to crooked local cops and politicians to
keep them looking the other way. Because of the local indifference,
there is ample reason for federal intervention.
Within the next month, another
story -- this one even more shocking that the Eppolito bust, is
expected to unfold in Sin City. With the expected defection
of D'Apice, Faraci, and eventually Rizzolo, its expected that the
offices of the US Attorney in both Nevada and New York will have all
they need to help implode what is left of at least one New York crime
Las Vegas' shame will be New York's gain when "Operation Crazy Horse"
For more information, go to: The Rick Rizzolo Connection
Steve Miller will be the guest host of the Lou Epton Radio Program,
Friday March 18, from 1:30 - 3 PM, PST. The program can be heard live
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