Mike's Rolex Ticks Off His Final Minutes In
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 19, 2003
Mike's Rolex President, value used: $25,000
Only in Vegas could a humble 33 year old police officer who had the
good fortune to be elected to the City Council get away with flashing an
expensive watch and not have to explain the circumstances behind its acquisition.
The 3 Faces of Mike:
McDonald on patrol, 1999
"Councilman Clairol" 2003
When Michael McDonald first took office in 1995,
he pledged he would donate his councilman's salary of $33,000 per year
to senior citizens and live off his police officer's pay. It seemed feasible
since he lived with his parents in a modest 1,200 square foot bungalow
that they happily occupied since Michael was a baby.
McDonald family home
Shortly thereafter, the rookie councilman kept
his word by donating TV sets to senior centers, however his benevolence
was short lived. Several weeks into his term McDonald said he needed his
council salary to help support his aging parents who were on a fixed income.
His constituents loved him for his sensitivity to his parents, and wished
him and his family well.
Soon things began to change. To his superior officer's
dismay, Michael began taking sick leave at the police department, became
a member of the House of Blues Foundation Room, began wearing Italian suits,
and suddenly started driving a new Lincoln Navigator (pictured in driveway
above.) No one questioned him until he moved out of his family dwelling
into a plush Canyon
Gate Country Club villa owned by the family of a member of Nevada's
Black Book of excluded persons.
Country Club villa valued at $500,000
Within his first year on the City Council, Mike
surrounded himself with highly paid high school buddies who he used to
fend off inquisitive reporter's questions. Mike soon earned the nickname
and began being seen regularly in the most expensive restaurants and social
affairs with men of questionable backgrounds.
Then the Rolex appeared on his wrist.
About that time, McDonald went under investigation
by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Internal Affairs Bureau. The probe
was based upon an anonymous letter accusing him of unprofessional behavior.
The anonymous letter said that McDonald is allowed "to use his position
as a police officer" in connection with Fred
"Rick" Rizzolo, the proprietor of the Crazy Horse Too topless club.
"For obvious favors received from Rizzolo, McDonald has his fellow
officers target competitive topless bars." The letter specifically
mentions Little Darlings and Club Exotica, both nude nightclubs located
near Rizzolo's business. The two clubs were coincidently cited by the city
for serving liquor without a license. "McDonald is always at the Crazy
Horse on Industrial Road with Rizzolo. He is able to entertain his fellow
officers who target the other strip joints," according to the anonymous
After Metro's intelligence and internal affairs bureaus investigated,
of inappropriate associations' were not sustained," according to Internal
Affairs. However, a cloud remained over Mike's head throughout his new
political career and his remaining tenure on the police force because of
the coincidence of the investigation with his subsequent change in life
At the same time, McDonald was also accused of doing other favors for
Rizzolo who is a close associate of Black Book member Joey Cusumano whose
family owned the Canyon Gate villa occupied by the Councilman between 1997
and 1999. In late 1998, Rizzolo expanded his topless bar 6,000 square feet
the benefit of permits or additional parking. McDonald was singled
out as being behind the action though he denied having anything to
do with it.
Then came the watch. McDonald told reporters that it was a gift from
his father - the same loving father who was on a fixed income and needed
financial help from his son. When asked how his dad got the luxuriant watch,
McDonald said it was presented to him as a "retirement" gift. (Mr. McDonald,
Sr. must have retired as a top executive from Microsoft!)
In 1999, Mike McDonald suddenly resigned from the Las Vegas Metropolitan
Police Department after serving more than ten years.
This week, a political mailer arrived in mailboxes throughout the city.
It was paid for by 68 year old ex-Marine Peter "Chris" Christoff. McDonald
had managed to piss off the old Marine at a Council meeting and Christoff
obviously wanted revenge. McDonald, who is seeking his third term on the
Sin City Council and is trailing
badly in the polls even though he has a million-dollar reelection war
chest, didn't need his constituents to hear in such a way from an old enemy
in the waning hours of his campaign. The election is on June 3.
Walters has long been suspected of money laundering. According to the
Vegas Sun, "Prosecutors have contended Walters participated in a
conspiracy to place illegal bets with illegal bookmakers in New York and
then transport the winnings back to Nevada. But three grand jury indictments
against Walters have been thrown out. The state attorney general's office
has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court to reinstate the case."
Something else McDonald took a lot of heat over was not mentioned in
Christoff's scathing letter to voters. In 2000, McDonald faced a state
Ethics Commission hearing to determine whether he should have disclosed
conflicts prior to a 1999 vote granting Republic Silver State Disposal
a lucrative trash hauling contract. The vote extended Republic's $1.5 billion
contract 15 years to 2021 without competitve bidding. However, the contract
was not due for renegotiation for another 5 years, and McDonald's action
negated the possibility of the contract having to go out to bid.
McDonald received $36,800 from Republic and its related entities for
his 1999 reelection campaign. A company executive also threw a fund-raiser
for him at his bar on Pecos Road in 1999 raising an undisclosed additional
amount of money. So far in 2003, he's received $20,800 (reported), and
that's only on the first of 3 reports.
Before McDonald helped the trash company, the entire top
hierarchy ended up as plea-bargaining felons heading for jail. Thomas
Isola, Silver State co-owners, President Joseph Anstett and Vice President
Richard Isola, board member Aldo Lippetti, and employees Craig Carstensen,
Carl Carlton Jr. and Frank Meccariello were accused of conspiring to cheat
the Internal Revenue Service from 1989 to 1991. The U.S. government proved
that the Silver State execs had schemed to raise Southern Nevadans' garbage
rates by reporting false financial information. Even this revelation and
the jailing of his friends did not deter McDonald from helping the company
get a new non-competitive contract.
On Wednesday, May 14, McDonald was named in an FBI
corruption probe of Vegas and San Diego topless bars owned by the Galardi
Following his checkered 8 years in office, many in Vegas are beginning
to say that with friends like Rizzolo, Isola, Galardi, and Walters, Councilman
Mike McDonald didn't need enemies! Now, the hands of Mike's mysterious
Rolex are probably ticking off the final minutes of his misguided political
career, and possibly his ability to walk the street as a free man.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com