Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers
of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public
Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his
website at: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
A judge in their pocket
Rizzolo has a good name in the community."
VEGAS by Steve Miller
August 15, 2005
court order causes speculation
In 2001, Clark County
District Court Judge Nancy M. Siatta sanctioned Buffalo Jim Barrier
$4,500 after witnesses mysteriously failed to
show up, and his former attorney was late for trial in a civil
he brought against embattled Crazy Horse strip
club owner Rick Rizzolo
. Judge Saitta
then summarily dismissed Barrier's suit, but not before
stating on the record: "Mr. Rizzolo has a good name in the community."
Four years later, Rizzolo is currently awaiting federal
for racketeering, tax evasion, and political corruption.
In an apparent effort to divest himself of his personal fortune before
the indictment hits, last month Rizzolo divorced
his wife of 27 years -- assigning her the bulk of his fortune including
an amazing $83,333 per month in alimony.
Several months after dismissing the civil racketeering action, Judge
Saitta was again "randomly selected" to rule on a motion for a gag
against Steve Miller, a motion brought by Rizzolo's lawyer
Tony Sgro after I broke the story telling of the beating and crippling
. Judge Saitta appeared poised to grant the motion until she
attorneys for the ACLU and Las Vegas
along with RJ
take seats in the back of her courtroom. Subsequently, she reluctantly
denied the gag order, and I continued writing.
The fact that Judge Nancy Saitta was presiding over five concurrent
cases all involving Rick Rizzolo raised suspicion at a local weekly
newspaper. An editorial entitled "Here comes the same judge" was
published, and shortly thereafter Judge Saitta on May 29, 2002,
suddenly reassigned four of her five Rizzolo cases to other randomly
selected district court judges. However, Judge Saitta kept the most
important case, the civil wrongful
action brought by the widow and children of Scott David Fau.
Mr. Fau was found dead behind the Crazy Horse in 1995 after being
club bouncers two hours earlier.
After eight years, two dismissals, and two
postponements, coupled with the refusal of two District Attorneys
to take criminal action, on January 13, 2003, following an abbreviated
trial, Judge Saitta instructed jurors to not consider the delayed
effect of blunt force trauma as the probable cause of Fau's
death. Following her instructions to the letter, and after only two
hours of deliberation, the jury ruled for the Crazy Horse.
Judges are selected to preside over local cases in a purportedly
random manner. As each case is presented to the court clerk, it is
supposed to be given to the next judge in chronological order. There
are 19 District Court judges. Unfortunately, its suspected that the
court clerk sometimes sets aside special cases that certain judges
desire, and waits until that judge's name is about to appear in
numerical order, then pulls out the set-aside case to be assigned to
that judge. In this way, its possible that all nationally televised
trials including the Binion and Rudin cases were coincidentally
assigned to Judge Joseph Bonaventure who loves the spotlight, and all
cases involving Rizzolo were coincidentally assigned to Judge Saitta --
that's until the "Here comes the same judge" editorial in 2002, and her
Coincidentally, the current District Attorney, David Roger
accepting and purportedly returning $50,000 in campaign contributions
generated by Rizzolo, also refused to
initiate criminal action after the September 21, 2001, beating and
crippling of Henry, again forcing a family to take their
case to civil court at great personal expense.
The Fau trial, Judge Saitta's final case involving Rick Rizzolo,
finally went to the jury on January 13, 2003. From that date forward,
all cases involving Rizzolo were assigned to other judges. But then
something amazing happened. Last week, an out dated order signed
by Judge Saitta
suddenly surfaced in an up-until-then obscure Justice Court case
Judge Siatta had
signed the order on September 28, 2004, twenty months after she was
officially off Rizzolo's cases.
Last Wednesday, garage owner Barrier in a continuing battle with
Rizzolo, his next door neighbor and landlord, appeared in Clark County
Justice Court to force Rizzolo to pay a previous $281 judgment for
illegally towing cars waiting to be repaired. In all past court actions
including this one, Barrier had won
requiring Rizzolo to reimburse him for the cost of towing
and impound. However Rizzolo opted not to pay, and all such judgments
were appealed by Rizzolo's attorneys. Rizzolo apparently prefers to pay
his attorneys thousands of dollars in legal fees, than to
pay hundreds of dollars in towing fees. Rizzolo has lost all his
appeals involving towing, so far, while his attorneys profit.
Possibly, Rizzolo is using his fetish for towing Barrier's client's
cars as a method to distract himself from the years in prison he faces
in the event the Federal Prosecutor succeeds in proving his
racketeering and tax evasion charges?
Nonetheless, on Wednesday, Justice of the Peace Bill Jansen again ruled
ordering the $281 judgment be paid immediately, but not until Rizzolo's
attorneys presented a surprise court order signed by none other than
Saitta over two
years after she removed herself from the case -- an
order that Rizzolo's attorneys tried to use to convince Judge
Jansen to dismiss Barrier's judgment and allow their client to continue
his obsession with towing Barrier's customer's cars.
When presented with the new order, Judge Jansen said, "We already have
an order here," referring to Judge Gonzalez' order of September 23.
Keep in mind that Judge Saitta removed herself from all cases involving
Barrier on May 29, 2002, and her final case involving Rizzolo, the Fau
case, was over in 2003. There was no legal reason why Judge Saitta was
still issuing orders
twenty months after leaving the case, and after it was reassigned to a
new judge three years eariler.
Judge Nancy M. Saitta
Saitta's surprise order stated: "Defendant, JAMES
C. BARRIER'S Motion for Preliminary Injunction having come before this
honorable Court this 25th day of
August 2004;.. Defendant present and represented by counsel..."
However, Barrier was the Plaintiff,
not the "Defendant," and he, his attorneys, and his witnesses were not
"present" in Judge Saitta's courtroom for any reason on August
25! They were down the hall in Judge Gonzalez' court for the majority
of the day.
when I started smelling a rat.
Gonzalez wrote her order in
objective, unbiased language correctly listing Barrier as the
In her order, Judge Gonzalez
stated: "THIS MATTER came before this
on August 25, 2004, at 9:30
a.m. on the 'Application for Temporary
Restraining Order' filed by the Plaintiff, JIM BARRIER dba ALLSTATE
AUTO AND MARINE. The Plaintiff was represented by his attorney, GUS W.
FLANGAS, ESQ. of the FLANGAS McMILLAN LAW GROUP. The Defendants,
RICRIZ LLC and The Power Company, Inc. dba CRAZY HORSE TWO was
represented by its attorney JON W. NORHEIM, ESQ. of PATTI &
Judge Gonzalez went on to specify that an Injunction was not warranted,
but that the court would interpret the lease agreement as to allow
Barrier to park seven customer's cars overnight without the threat of
towing. Barrier was very pleased by the order, however, Rizzolo defied
the order and continued his towing practice.
But in contrast to Judge Gonzalez' order, Saitta's "order"
calling Barrier the "Defendant"
stated: "Defendant, JAMES
C. BARRIER'S Motion for Preliminary Injunction having come before this
honorable Court this 25th day of
August 2004; Plaintiffs present and represented by counsel, JON
W. NORHEIM, ESQ. and DEAN R. PATTI, ESQ. and the law firm PATTI &
SGRO, Defendant present and represented by counsel, GUS W. FLANGAS,
ESQ. and the law firm of FLANGAS McMILLIAN LAW GROUP, the court having
read the papers and pleadings on file, having heard the testimony of
witnesses and having heard the argument of counsel, and good cause
appearing therefore; IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion
for Preliminary Injunction in DENIED."
The rest of Judge Saitta's "order" was written in a subjective manner
Rizzolo including a statement calling the towed cars "junk." Judge Saitta's signature was
signed in pen.
Two problems are glaringly apparent.
#1. Judge Gonzalez -- who is the only
judge with jurisdiction over this case -- signed her order on
September 23, 2004. Then, Judge Saitta signed her order --
without authority -- five days later on September 28 -- something
acknowledged last week by Judge Jansen.
#2. In Judge Gonzalez' order, she states that only Jon W. Norheim, Esq.
was present representing Rizzolo. But in Judge Saitta's order it states
Norheim's partner Dean R. Patti, Esq. was also present in her courtroom.
Somebody is not telling the truth. Also keep in mind that Patti &
Sgro are well known political fund raisers, so much so that in 2003,
they lent their plush offices to then-DA candidate David Roger to be
used as his campaign headquarters. They covet their close relationships
with the local judiciary, and visa versa.
The revelation of
this information will undoubtedly be a giant slap in the
face to Judge Saitta's colleagues, though she probably never imagined I
would ever get my hands on her intriguing order, and make light of it.
Court Orders “R” Us
But the biggest problem was that no such hearing took place in
Judge Saitta's court on August 25, 2004. Her statement: "Defendant present and
represented by counsel," was a bold faced lie bearing her signature!
Why and how did Rizzolo's attorney get his hands on a helpful order
bearing Judge Saitta's signature twenty months after Saitta removed
from the case -- an order that favored his client -- an order that
contradicted that of another district court judge? Last Thursday, I
called Judge Saitta to inquire.
The judge's phone was answered by her law clerk, a man identifying
himself as "Chris." After being thoroughly informed of the questions I
intended to ask his boss, Chris responded, "Someone must have made an
error. I'll give these questions to the judge, and we should get back
to you soon."
An error? I waited two days for Judge Saitta's response, but none
followed, and the mystery continues.
Courthouse observers inquire whether the Nevada Commission on Judicial
Discipline, or possibly the FBI, should be notified of the anomaly? And
in the meantime, Judge Saitta's silence is speaking louder than words.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
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