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
The bloodshed finally ends
don't consider Rick Rizzolo a human.
I think he's a
moron, a thug, a goon."
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 11, 2006
LAS VEGAS - On September 6, 2006, the Las Vegas City Council
unanimously voted to permanently revoke Rick
Rizzolo's liquor license
and fine him $2.2 million dollars for condoning twenty years of
beatings, and murders at his Crazy Horse Too.
This, after the skin joint proprietor on June 1 was convicted of income
tax evasion, racketeering, and extortion. He's to be sentenced on
October 22, and faces up to five years in Federal Prison.
On Friday, Sept. 8, Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian appeared on
Jon Ralston's TV program "Face to Face."
She said that
had Mayor Oscar Goodman chaired the license revocation
hearing, he could have turned the vote around "based on his strong
Goodman, a former Mob attorney, has often proclaimed his
hatred for the FBI who were responsible for Rizzolo's downfall.
He also often told the press "There is no Mob," and once described his
client Tony "The Ant" Spilotro as an "Innocent, misunderstood
businessman being persecuted because he has a vowel at the end of his
Based on his former profession, it was obvious that Goodman
wanted to let Rizzolo off with a slap on the wrist. And the last thing
Goodman would allow if he presided over the hearing was to shut down
the bar that enriches a number of his law firm's former and present
However, Goodman in 2004 worked overtime to close one of Rizzolo's
He conveniently claimed he couldn't vote on the issue because his
lawyer son represented the owners, but my City Hall sources told me
that Goodman was busy calling the shots from behind the scenes.
As a former Councilman, I knew that he had to be removed from the dias
during the Crazy Horse deliberations or his pals would be allowed to
continue hurting people, so I went to work.
During my last year in office, I authored the City's Ethics
in Government Law. I'm intimitely familiar with its' workings, and with
its' cousin, the State Ethics Law. So on July 10, I filed a Complaint
against Mayor Oscar Goodman with the Nevada Commission on Ethics.
If he's found guilty of my charges, it will be the second
time in Goodman's career he's violated State ethics law, and could
result in his removal from office. So the writing was on the wall. He
had to abstain.
Based on my complaint -- but giving me no credit -- Goodman,
on September 6, did abstain and reluctently let Mayor Pro Tem Gary
Reese preside over the Crazy Horse Too license revocation hearing. But he didn't go
without a fight!
His protégé' Tony Sgro wrote three letters in support of
letting his mentor preside over the hearing. But even Sgro's letters
sway City Attorney Brad Jerbic who bravely advised Goodman he had a
Before storming out of the Council Chambers, Goodman let his colleagues
that Rick Rizzolo was "a very close friend," "We attend social
events together," "he's contributed generously to my political
campaign," and that as Mayor, he had "strong feelings" as to what
should occur at the hearing though he wouldn't be there to express them
As he turned to leave,
Goodman glared at me and Buffalo Jim Barrier sitting in the back
of the room. After he left, we took a breath of fresh air.
That's when a miracle
happened. Instead of their usual timidness, now under the new
the Mayor Pro Tem,
Council members Steve Ross, Lois Tarkanian, Larry Brown, and Steve
Wolfson were energized, along with Deputy City Attorney Bill Henry who
represented the citizens of Las Vegas.
This occurred even though Father Dave Casselegio, Rizzolo's personal priest,
during the weeks leading up to the hearing, lobbied the Council members
asking them to have mercy on his humble parishioner and his band of
thugs and thieves.
But even with Divine Intervention, the remaining Council members
couldn't be swayed, especially when Deputy City Attorney Bill Henry
told them that there had been at least one beating per month between
2000 and 2005!
To Father Casselegio's dismay, Henry
compared Rick Rizzolo with
Tony Soprano running Bada Bing.
Rizzolo visibly cringed when he heard the comparison.
But I was most disturbed when Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro stated that
his client had "never been in trouble before."
No one on the Council batted an eye or asked him to explain Rizzolo's
1989 conviction for beating Rick Sandlin almost to death with a
baseball bat, and that Sandlin died three years later of his injuries.
This was part of my basis for filing the ethics complaint against
Goodman. At the time, he was Rizzolo's criminal defense attorney, and
cut a "deal" with then-DA Rex Bell to keep him out of prison.
Another amazing statement made by Sgro was "Don't kick him when he's
down," in reference to the Council's ability to revoke the liquor
Ironically, Scott David Fau was kicked
to death behind the Crazy Horse
in 1995 by
Following the four hour hearing and the unanimous vote of the Council,
Sgro filed motions in Clark County District Court asking for a
Temporary Restraining Order against the City. It was denied by Judge
Mark Denton. Sgro also filed a motion for a Preliminary Injunction to
stop the license revocation. That motion will be heard in Denton's
court at 9:30 Tuesday morning, but is also expected to fail.
When I first learned Judge Mark Denton was assigned to the case, I did
some research to find out whether he had accepted campaign
contributions from Rizzolo or his friends.
I searched the Secretary of State's Political Campaign Contribution and
Expense Reports for the names Fred Glusman, Bart Rizzolo, Annette
Patterson, Ralph Rizzolo, Lisa Rizzolo, Piero's, Ritz, Tony Tegano,
Tango Pools, Crazy Horse Too, RicRiz, LLC, RicBar LLC, The Power
Company, Inc., Letizia Ad Team, or Fred Doumani.
None were listed. I relaxed.
Chris Christoff drove Buffalo Jim and I home after the
triumphant ruling, but we couldn't contain our joy at the thought of
having played a part in ending one of the saddest times in Las Vegas
history. We asked AmericanMafia.com photographer Mike Christ to take a
picture of us celebrating in front of the closed down bar.
For years, Barrier, a former pro wrestler,
had suffered at the hands of Rizzolo and his goons.
His auto repair business located next to the topless bar had repeatedly
been vandalized including damage to customer's cars left overnight for
Barrier sued Rizzolo five times in small claims court and won --
collecting damages and towing fees. But that didn't stop
Rizzolo from harassing
Barrier's air conditioning was vandalized, and his employees
threatened. He sued for harassment, and Rizzolo counter sued for
The harassment jury trial will be held in 2007, but what's most amazing
that Rizzolo, a convicted felon, is
still pursuing his defamation action against Barrier, even if he has to
testify from prison!
Attorney Sgro claims that Barrier "injured the reputation" of his
client by being the first to tell reporters in 1999 that the Crazy
Horse Too was engaged in criminal activity.
Rizzolo also sued this writer for libel after I broke the Kirk Henry
story. His lawsuit was promptly dismissed, but not
before Sgro tried to secure a gag order against me and my
During the discovery portion of Rizzolo's defamation action against me,
Sgro tried to force me to take a deposition, and ask me under oath to
identify my sources. Had it not been for the powerful Nevada Shield Law
that protects reporters from having to reveal their sources, I would
have gone to jail or paid heavy fines for refusing to expose my sources
to possible physical retaliation from Rizzolo.
And the legal fees continue to flow into the law firm of Patti and Sgro
even though they have lost their client's liquor license and freedom,
and screwed up a bonified sale of the club. More on that later.
My best moment came the evening after the Council hearing when I
was interviewed on the
local NBC affiliate, KVBC Channel 3
After years of frustration writing about Rizzolo getting away with
robbing, beating, and killing innocent visitors to his club, I had the
chance to tell my town what I actually felt.
Newsman Steve Crupi's story "Crazy
Horse Too stripped of liquor license," stated:
mob ties, tax evasion charges, and a paralyzed customer, the city
council has had enough of the Crazy Horse Too. Now, rather than running
his business without a liquor license, owner Rick Rizzolo may decide to
shut down. City attorneys say the club is corrupt and has been for
years, and former City Councilman Steve Miller says the reason is
Rizzolo. 'I don't consider Rick
Rizzolo a human. I think he's a
moron, a thug, a goon,' said Miller.
beating that Kirk Henry received at the hands of a bouncer is just one
of the reasons why the club should be shut down. 'And
afford as a community to allow this. I congratulate the city council
for their action today in ending this blood bath,' said Miller."
(You can view streaming video
of the KVBC story by clicking
click "Crazy Horse Too stripped of liquor license.")
During the hearing, Councilwoman Tarkanian talked about why the City
had not taken
action until now though she had received numerous complaints about
violence at the Crazy Horse.
She told the audience that Goodman advised her, "You don't get involved
to cause any problems!"
Then Business License Manager Jim DiFiori lied to his
Council saying no one had ever requested that the Crazy
Horse be brought before the Council to defend its liquor license.
On October 10, 2001, the Las Vegas Tribune ran a front
page story asking the City to schedule a Show Cause action against the
On October 25, 2001, Mayor Goodman invited
me to his City Hall office to discuss a possible Show Cause
hearing. There he opened the conversation by saying "I'm not doing any
favors for Joey
Cusumano," though I did not bring up Mr. Cusumano's name.
Cusumano is a suspected hidden owner of the Crazy Horse; a close friend
of Rizzolo and Goodman; a former Goodman Law Firm client; and member of
Nevada's Black Book of undesirables.
In 2003, Goodman proudly accepted a $40,000 campaign contribution from
Rizzolo. In 2006, the mayor told the Review-Journal: "I like Rick
Rizzolo. He goes to Piero's every Thanksgiving and feeds hundreds of
needy people. And he treats them with dignity."
In 2002, Steven Dempsey began regularly appearing before the Council
every two weeks asking for a Show Cause hearing on the Crazy Horse.
a law school graduate, Dempsey was scoffed at by Goodman, and his pleas
I also persisted in
calling for a Show Cause. On April 26, 2005, the mayor even went
so far as to pay a personal visit to my home to try to appease me. Following our meeting, he not only refused
to schedule a hearing, he sponsored two ordinances; one to allow the Crazy Horse to expand; and
another to allow it to employ teenage
But Goodman wasn't the only crooked public official running
interference for Rizzolo.
Attorney David Roger,
after accepting, then purportedly returning, $40,000 in campaign
contributions from Rizzolo, dropped five LVMPD cases waiting for
prosecution against employees of the Crazy Horse. The first day after
Roger's reelection in 2006, he plea bargained a felony Trafficking in
Controlled Substance charge against Ralph Rizzolo, Rick Rizzolo's
brother, down to misdemeanor Possession.
It began to look as though nothing could stop the pay offs, robberies,
Enter the FBI!
In 2002, an FBI Organized Crime Strike Task Force set up shop in Vegas.
My house was their first stop.
I shared everything I had on Rizzolo, then-Councilman
Michael McDonald, DA
David Roger, Dist.
Court Judge Nancy Saitta, and Mayor Goodman.
That's when the domino effect began. In the meantime, Dempsey and I
continued to pressure the rest of the Council to revoke Rizzolo's
before any more Kirk Henry-type attacks occurred. We were ignored by
the Council and Goodman's stooge Jim DiFiori, and the frequency of the
Then the indictments began rolling in. Amazingly, the reports of
beatings and robberies did not slow down. It became evident that that
was the only way Rizzolo knew to make money. Hence my "moron" remark.
While this was going on, Rizzolo kept on harassing Barrier and his
customers. Barrier's attorney Bob Lueck continued winning lawsuits
against Rizzolo's lawyer Tony Sgro who continued collecting hefty
legal fees from his client.
Rizzolo appealed the small claims court rulings, but
District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzelez upheld the lower court
decisions. Rizzolo refused to comply with her Order, and to this day is
Barrier's cars and harassing his customers.
The Wednesday his liquor license was revoked, Rizzolo, per Sgro's bogus
advice, refused to stop
serving liquor. He illegally served liquor for two more days until the
called Undersheriff Doug Gillespie to ask why he wasn't
enforcing the law against selling liquor without a license?
I had written an E-Brief to my 10,000 subscribers asking them to call
the Undersheriff or e-mail him demanding he shut down the illegal
operation. He ignored all complaints until the FBI reportedly made
Within minutes of the FBI inquiry, the Crazy Horse shut down.
Seeing dancers and customers exiting the building, Jim Barrier called
the press. Review-Journal photographer
Isaac Brekken caught two of Rizzolo's thugs loading
booze into a panel truck. Saturday morning's front page headline
CLUB: Curtain falls on Crazy Horse Too - Rizzolo decides to close as he
fights liquor license revocation.
In the meantime, U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip Pro must be
watching Rizzolo's bizarre antics as are the rest of Las Vegas'
Judge Pro warned Rizzolo on June 1 to stay out of trouble until his
sentencing, but Rizzolo continues to defy Judge Gonzelez' Court Order
and harass Barrier, and for two days defied the City's ruling to stop
His arrogance may inspire Judge Pro to give him more time than the
sixteen months his plea bargain stipulated.
And then there's Kirk Henry, the man who had his neck broken by one of
Rizzolo's goons on the night of Sept. 20, 2001 over a disputed $88 bar
In his plea bargain, Rizzolo personally guaranteed to pay Henry $10
million dollars for his injuries.
Rizzolo signed documents including one called a SETTLEMENT RELEASE AGREEMENT that
guarantees payment whether the Crazy Horse Too is sold or not. In the
event a sale does not occur, the agreement allows Rizzolo's personal
assets to be forfeited and liquidated including his homes in Las Vegas,
Chicago, upstate New York, Newport Beach, California, and property
the Crazy Horse Too in
Since Rizzolo's conviction, the FBI and authorities in Pennsylvania are
reportedly looking at Vince Piazza, the licensee of the Philly club.
In January 2006, San Francisco real estate tycoon Luke
Brugnara made a verified offer of $30 million cash for the Las
Crazy Horse Too. However, according to sources, Sgro didn't want to
kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, so he advised Rizzolo to turn
offer. He reportedly advised his client that he was going to get him
off, and there would be no need to sell the club.
Sgro was dead wrong, and Brugnara has since lost interest.
Now knowing what he knows, Rizzolo might be wise to sue Sgro for
malpractice for squelching the only real offer ever placed on the table!
Last Wednesday, Sgro
told the Council that Rizzolo no longer has the financial wherewithal
to pay Henry if the Crazy Horse closes -- it must be sold with
its' liquor license intact to generate the
funds to pay Henry and his lawyers. But he
didn't explain how future Kirk Henry-type attacks would be prevented if
the present management, albeit, some from behind prison bars, were
to continue operating the club with other felons handling the day to
day operation (as per Mayor Goodman's wishes).
Councilman Ross countered by saying Rizzolo "amassed
a hugh amount of wealth" in the twenty years he owned the club, and
"will have to pay one way or another."
Councilman Wolfson also stated that in the Federal plea bargain,
Rizzolo had stated he made over $5 million per year since the
club opened. He then asked, "Where's the money?"
No mention was made of Rizzolo's psudo-divorce from his wife Lisa when
in 2004 he transferred to her the bulk of his fortune
amounting to well over what he
owes Henry. He was told by Sgro that doing so would protect him from
garnishment and forfeiture. That's not correct. Judge Pro can and
should reverse the transfer at sentencing and pay Henry immediately now
that the Crazy Horse Too has been rendered unsaleable without the
benefit of a liquor license.
Judge Pro on June 1, also ruled that Rizzolo cannot be placed into
Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy.
According to real estate experts, in 2000, Rizzolo overpaid for the
acre parcel containing the 1960's era converted warehouse containing
the strip club and Barrier's Allstate Auto repair. Two well known
real estate experts value
the property and building at between $1.7 and $3 million without the
liquor license, and
Rizzolo has a $5 million dollar balance on his mortgage!
However, his ex-wife -- who he was married to at the time of Kirk
Henry's beating -- now has his bank accounts, houses, cars,
jewelry, and cash. I'm sure Judge Pro is fully aware of this, and plans
to rule the transfers invalid based on their timing right in the
middle of a federal racketeering investigation.
© Steve Miller
(Four of the above photos were taken by AmericanMafia.com
photographer Mike Christ)
* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas'
scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com