"My Dog Ate
Mob lawyers try to weasel
out of complying with
a Court Order, then steal
$10,000 intended for
the daughters of "Las Vegas'
the late Buffalo Jim Barrier
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 22, 2009
LAS VEGAS - Last month, local mob lawyers
Dean Patti and Tony Sgro told United States Federal Court Judge Philip
Pro that they could not produce the court ordered financial records of
convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo and his wife Lisa because the documents
were destroyed in a "flood" at their law office.
and Sgro then snatched $10,000 from the estate of the late Buffalo
Jim Barrier. More on this later.
13, 2001. Lawyer Tony Sgro, left, argues in favor of a gag order against
Miller. At right are attorneys Dowon Kang, Chris Rasmussen and Gus
who successfully opposed the Motion. The hearing was held before
Court Judge Nancy Saitta. (Review-Journal
photo by Gary Thompson)
2, 2002, Lawyer Dean Patti, left, and Mayor Oscar Goodman
in favor of an ordinance to expand
the Crazy Horse Too and
the hiring of teenage
strippers. The ordinance was passed.
Patti and Sgro's excuse for not producing
the Rizzolo files is reminiscent of the little boy who told his teacher
"My dog ate my homework!"
The Rizzolo files are a necessary part
of a civil attempted murder lawsuit brought by Kansas tourist Kirk
Henry after his neck was broken in 2001 by a Rizzolo employee when
he disputed an $88 bar tab at the couple's former topless bar, the Crazy
One month following their purported "flood,"
Patti and Sgro filed another Motion in Federal Court seeking to delay or
cancel Henry's right to examine their files. This time because the lawyers
were not being paid to produce the documents.
They can't have it both ways! The files
were either destroyed in a flood, or they somehow dried out, but won't
be made available until Henry pays the law firm to retrieve them, or the
judge rules the files must be made available. Nonetheless, two court orders
later, Henry's attorneys are still waiting to complete Discovery. The two
excuses completely contradict one another, and that should be a red flag
to the court.
In their latest pleadings, Patti &
Sgro assert: "Dean R. Patti has not refused to comply with the subpoena
and he has not refused to produced (sp) documents or appear and testify.
He merely asks for reasonable compensation for the intrusion on his business
and that the date be set for when he is available."
Patti goes on to say the Court Order is
interfering with his vacation.
This latest stalling tactic to prevent
Henry's attorneys from knowing more about the Rizzolo's finances will test
the mettle of Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. In the past, Judge
Foley has been very lenient with Rizzolo and his attorneys.
On February 3, 2009, Judge Foley erroneously
ruled to stymie Kirk Henry's ability to locate and collect the $9 million
dollar settlement Rick Rizzolo agreed to pay him in exchange for a shortened
prison sentence. After his release, Rizzolo welched on his agreement and
Henry was forced to to locate the couple's hidden assets. Being successful
in collecting his settlement would require cooperation from the court,
but Judge Foley refused at the time.
On March 23, 2009, Judge Pro wisely issued
an Order overruling Judge Foley's bogus ruling and opened the door for
Henry's attorneys to depose
Lisa Rizzolo and find the whereabouts of the couple's hidden fortune.
Now, on July 13, Judge Foley is scheduled to rule whether or not to sanction
the law firm for not complying with Judge Pro's Order to produce the financial
and personal documents necessary for Henry to locate the Rizzolo's assets.
INSIDE VEGAS will report the outcome of
the July 13 hearing.
Mob attorneys rob the grave
of Buffalo Jim
It's been fifteen months since the death
of Buffalo Jim Barrier. The former pro wrestler and Vegas garage owner
operated an auto repair business next door to the Crazy Horse Too. He was
the man who drew the FBI's attention to the long established racketeering
enterprise run by the Rizzolos, and was given credit for putting Rick Rizzolo
behind bars and shutting down his club, the scene of dozens of reported
robberies, beatings, and at least two killings.
Jim was found dead in a Boulder Highway motel room the day after Rick Rizzolo
was released from prison. (Click on this Las
Vegas Weekly cover to read "Larger than life. The life and death
of Vegas Most Colorful Character")
In 2002, Barrier sued Rizzolo for harassment.
Seven months before his untimely passing,
District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered Rizzolo to deposit one
million dollars into the court's escrow account. That's how solid the judge
thought Barrier's harassment claim was!
The suit was based on several years of
Rizzolo trying to muscle Barrier into moving his business so the Crazy
Horse could expand into its space. Barrier refused, and suffered having
his customer's tires slashed, windows broken, paint keyed, vehicles illegally
towed, and his business' air conditioning sabotaged on a regular basis.
When Barrier had had enough, he sued (See "Barrier
Sues Rizzolo For Harassment," June 26, 2002)
Judge Gonzalez saw probable cause, and
ordered Rizzolo to put $ 1 million in escrow.
|Aug. 22, 2007
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Judge rules against Rizzolo
Imprisoned strip club owner ordered to
put $1 million in escrow
By ADRIENNE PACKER
Serving a sentence of one year and one
day after pleading guilty to conspiracy to evade taxes, A District Court
judge on Tuesday ordered Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo to stow away
$1 million pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by longtime Rizzolo nemesis
and neighboring business owner, James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier.
"Have $1 million retained in escrow pending
the resolution of this case," Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered, upholding
an earlier order that was challenged by Rizzolo's attorney Mark Hafer.
Rizzolo was incensed and refused to comply
with the judge's order. The case proceeded through the court system until
Barrier's untimely April 5, 2008 death. Following his death, Rizzolo's
attorneys started a chain of legal events that would lead to their receipt
of $10,000 from Barrier's estate. Here's the chronological order of those
events according to the court record:
Rizzolo's attorneys filed a Writ with the
Nevada Supreme Court asking that Judge Gonzalez' Order be overturned, they
be awarded attorney's fees, and Barrier's case dismissed. The Justices
rushed to issue a ruling in Patti and Sgro's favor, and a lien was immediately
placed on the Barrier estate.
The Nevada Supreme Court consists of lawyers
who must run for their positions. Such campaigns require hundreds of thousands
of dollars to be successful. Patti and Sgro are well known for their political
fund raising abilities.
recent addition to the Supreme Court is former District Court Judge Nancy
Saitta (LA Times photo - left), a close friend of Rick and Lisa
Saitta's relationship with the Rizzolos
inspired the August 12, 2005 INSIDE VEGAS column, "A
judge in their pocket."
In 2002, Rizzolo, Dean Patti, and Tony
Sgro hosted a fund raiser for Saitta at Piero's
restaurant, a known mob hang out. She was also seen attending parties at
the Rizzolo's Canyon Gate Country Club estate, and was observed hugging
and kissing her host while Rizzolo's cases were still pending on her
During FBI interviews from the 2006 "G-Sting"
trial, federal witness Michael Galardi -- who the jury found to be credible
-- said that Rizzolo had "taken care of Saitta," and suggested Rizzolo
had the judge in his pocket and that she had ruled favorably on his
behalf in past cases. Galardi also told the FBI that he heard Rizzolo brag
he once paid Saitta $40,000 for favorable treatment. Galardi's testimony
led to the bribery convictions of two ex-Clark County Commissioners. Judge
Saitta has not been charged with any crime.
Her relationships with Vegas power players
also inspired the Los Angeles Times story "JUICE
VS. JUSTICE | A TIMES INVESTIGATION In Las Vegas, They're Playing With
a Stacked Judicial Deck."
This is not the first time Saitta took
Barrier's money to give to Patti and Sgro. In the early 2000's, she was
"randomly" assigned five concurrent cases involving Rizzolo. He prevailed
in all cases, In one of the concurrent cases, Rizzolo had sued Barrier
for defamation. When Barrier's attorney showed up late for court. Saitta
sanctioned Barrier $4,500. She said the money was to pay Patti and Sgro
for their "inconvenience."
So, it's not a stretch of the imagination
to believe Saitta's fingerprints are all over the Supreme Court's action
in this latest money grab for her friends at Patti and Sgro.
then there's the most recent March 30, 2009 Order by District Judge Linda
Bell (left). She followed through with the Supreme Court's Opinion. She
overruled Judge Gonzalez' ruling, ordered that Patti and Sgro be paid by
the Barrier daughters, and dismissed Buffalo Jim's harassment case.
The Statute of Limitations issue had been
thoroughly argued in Judge Gonzalez' court, and she decided that because
fraud was involved, and because delays occurred in a previous court, the
Statute was no longer relevant in this case.
Rookie Judge Bell disagreed with her seasoned
The harassment case was originally assigned
to Judge Saitta, but she had it transferred to Judge Gonzalez after her
election to the Supreme Court. While Saitta had the case, it languished
-- possibly on purpose to aid in exhausting the five year rule so the case
could automatically be dismissed..
Linda Bell took office in January 2009. She is the daughter of former Clark
County DA Stewart Bell (left) who in 2003 had also been elected to the
District Court bench.
During his tenure as District Attorney,
five brutal beatings at the Crazy Horse Too were brought to him for prosecution
by Metro Police. One of the cases involved Kirk Henry. Bell did not prosecute
anyone associated with Rizzolo during his two terms as DA, instead passing
the cases on to his successor David Roger who had received $50,000 in campaign
contributions from Rick and Lisa Rizzolo. Immediately following his election,
discarded the five Crazy Horse cases.
Three months after she was sworn in, Judge
Linda Bell carelessly signed the final Order taking $10,000 from the Barrier
children. It's not known what part Patti and Sgro played in her father's,
or her elections.
Barrier was a single father. He was the
sole provider for his youngest child Jerica who was 15 at the time of his
death, and the love of his life. Since then, Jerica, now 17, has been living
with family friends and is doing fine. Her older sisters Jessica, 27, Jennifer,
26, and Elise Barrier, 20, are busy with their own careers, so Jerica is
the center of the family's attention.
Soon after his passing, the Barrier girls
discovered that their father was not a rich man, though he lavished them
with luxuries throughout their childhood. Buffalo Jim was mainly a collector
of sports and celebrity memorabilia, gold jewelry, guns, and old cars.
Such items are hard to sell. Otherwise, he was a cash and carry big hearted
working guy with no appreciable savings, and no life insurance.
In the process of trying to liquidate their
father's estate, the girls hired a professional estate auction company.
The firm set up the website BuffaloJim.net
to assist in the sales. They include an excellent documentary
video made by a Dutch film maker featuring Barrier showing off some
of his collectibles, and a revealing TV
news story questioning his death.
So far, the estate has raised just over
ten thousand hard earned dollars intended to pay for Jerica Barrier's senior
year tuition at the Christian high school she attends, along with her living
expenses. Money that was also intended to pay for Jerica's college education
and help her get a start in life. But with the help of Judges Nancy Saitta
and Linda Bell, most of that money was allowed to be stolen by the late
Buffalo Jim Barrier's worst enemies.
Happy Father's Day!