INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 21, 2005
As indictments in "Operation Crazy Horse" draw near, a source close to
Rick Rizzolo tells INSIDE VEGAS that the topless
is more concerned about
being inducted into the Nevada Gaming Control Board Excluded Person
also known as the "Black Book," than being indicted in the federal
racketeering take down.
Some folks just have different priorities.
Something Rizzolo takes great pride in is his being known on the Strip
as a "whale" with a million dollar plus
line of credit at several casinos, a subject that has not skipped the
attention of the Fraud Division of the Internal Revenue Service.
"He marches into the casino surrounded by eye candy. The bosses only
let males deal to him because of his foul language. After usually
losing up to $350,000 per night, he makes a scene screaming
obscenities. If he wins, he throws thousands of dollars at the dealers
and bosses. What a nut!"
These are the words of a local dealer who says he often deals to
For a gambler like Rizzolo, being banned from casinos could be a
punishment worse than prison.
|(Excerpts from) NRS 463.151
requiring exclusion or ejection of certain persons from licensed
establishments: Persons included.
3. In making that
determination, the board and the commission may consider any: (b) Violation or conspiracy to violate
the provisions of
this chapter relating to:
(2) Willful evasion of
fees or taxes;
(c) Notorious or
reputation which would adversely affect public confidence and trust
that the gaming industry is free from criminal or corruptive elements;
Its becoming clear that one of
the most incriminating elements of the upcoming "Operation Crazy Horse"
indictments will be tax evasion based on what is estimated to be
millions of unreported dollars Rizzolo and his associates dole out to
drivers to allegedly divert customers to their place of business.
According to investigative
journalist George Knapp in last
week's Las Vegas Mercury
, "The drivers
tell potential customers that the topless joint has either burned down
or become a gay hangout."
This allegedly happens if a customer asks to go to a
club that does not pay the cabbie between $20 and $40 cash per
customer delivered. Even in the most legitimate clubs, little record is
kept of such "tips" as the cabbies like to
call them, and the Crazy Horse is known as the poster child for this
Rizzolo was the first to call club owners together in 1999 to try to
persuade them to stop the pay offs. They met at Pizzeria Uno and made a
pact that all complied with until seven months later when business fell
off so much at the Crazy Horse that Rizzolo was the first to
re-initiate the scheme.
When it was revealed through an undercover investigation by Darcy
Spears of KVBC TV News
that Rizzolo was again paying
off cabbies, the other clubs immediately resumed the illegal practice.
Meanwhile, the Nevada Taxi Authority turned their backs saying it was
up to the City Council to threaten the privileged business licensees
who violated the law. The Mayor and his Council did nothing possibly
based on a $40,000 campaign contribution Goodman took from Rizzolo.
Enter the IRS.
Its clear the feds want to close the blood
Crazy Horse especially after funding a multi-year
investigation involving as many as 80 special agents. Its suspected
the bar is the front for a new infestation of organized crime activity
in Las Vegas.
According to sources, Rizzolo is not so concerned with losing his job
or going to prison, but is reportedly going out of his mind over the
very real possibility of never being able to enter a casino again.
He may not be far off the mark based on statements made by the local
Sheriff and the state Gaming Control Board.
"He violated department policies prohibiting officers from
accepting gifts from suspects and consorting with persons of ill repute
," were the words
of Clark County Sheriff Bill Young in August 2003 on a police
officer taking money from Rizzolo.
"I am also very knowledgeable regarding some of the criminal elements here and those
with unsuitable or shady type
backgrounds, so I'm very familiar with this Mr. Rick Rizzolo...
People such as you, very successful, very young,
are considered marks. People in organized
crime try to set you up, to get some of your funds. And I think
that's what they were trying to do with you (emphasis added)," were the words
of Nevada Gaming
Control Board member Bobby Siller on January 8, 2004 during the license
hearing for the new owners of the Golden Nugget.
If Rick Rizzolo's worst nightmare comes true, at
least he'll be among friends in the Black Book. Joey
, his "best friend in the world," resides on the same page
with several other friends including disgraced Chicago ex-cop Fred
who Rizzolo was with
in 1999 when
was arrested at McCarran International Airport.
Even Rizzolo's employees are subject to GCB scrutiny though his bar
doesn't have gaming. On October 2, 2002, Randall Sayre, the Nevada
Gaming Control Board Chief of Investigations told the Las Vegas City
Council, "It's no secret that we have concerns with some of the
associations that he has," referring to Albert
, an applicant for a key employee license at the Crazy
Horse. Sayre was referring to Rapuano's close association with Cusumano
Rapuano worked as the general manager of a Mesquite, Nevada casino
once owned by Merv Griffin. He lasted only two weeks until he was fired
when the casino's owners learned details of Rapuano's past including
allegations of a possible friendship with Cusumano, a man police said
was connected to organized crime, but someone who is also a close
friend of the Mayor.
Nonetheless, with Mayor Oscar Goodman's blessings, Rapuano was
granted the license while smearing egg on the faces of certain members
of the state Gaming Control Board, a favor that might come back to
haunt Rizzolo in the near future if he is convicted of one or more
Lets talk about Rizzolo's protector
the Mayor who prior to being elected was the criminal defense attorney
for Rapuano and other Rizzolo associates including Cusumano
and Joey "The clown" Lombardo
of another Crazy Horse executive. Also keep in mind that Goodman's law
partner David Chesnoff is currently representing Vinnie
, the general manager of the Crazy Horse, and Goodman's two
lawyer sons may represent others about to be indicted. There's big
money available to criminal defense attorneys who represent Rizzolo and
his crew, and let us not forget how Oscar Goodman made his fortune
After embarrassing the Control Board during the Rapuano hearing,
Goodman invited Cusumano to his home
for a social event. This was not the first time the mayor was caught
entertaining Black Book members. Charles
"Charlie Moose" Panarella
was even a guest in the Mayor's office at
It was Goodman who once said "There is no Mob," and "I'd rather have my
daughter date Tony Spilotro
an FBI agent." Goodman is no friend to law enforcement, and Rizzolo
likes to flaunt
his Mob connections. An unhealthy combination.
Don't underestimate the effect this type of arrogance can have on those
entrusted with the care and enforcement of Nevada's casinos, and don't
underestimate the knowledge the Control Board has of Goodman's
continuous covering up for Rizzolo and his cronies. With a friend like
Goodman, Rick Rizzolo will need no enemies at trial.
Al Capone and Frank Costello were finally brought down for tax evasion
- the least impressive of their crimes. Though less than exciting, tax
evasion is easy to spot and prosecute especially when a guy squanders
millions of dollars in cash paying off cabbies and shooting craps at
Sometimes one's worst nightmare can actually come true.
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