thrown back into Federal Prison
Debtors aggressively pursue
Ex-wife and stepmother are
the next targets.
Cafe near prison may become
social club for the Las
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
September 19, 2011
LAS VEGAS - At 2 PM Wednesday, September
15, 2011, Vegas racketeer
Rick Rizzolo surrendered to authorities at the Taft
Correctional Institution (TCI) in the hot and dusty San Joaquin Valley
of Central California 309 miles from Las Vegas for his second prison stay
-- this time for parole
violations. But he didn't surrender peacefully. True to form, Rizzolo
mounted a very expensive last minute legal fight that cost him, or one
of his associates, tens of thousands of wasted dollars in attorney fees!
On July 28, Rizzolo's attorneys filed a
Ninth Circuit Court Appeal
of his July 20 sentencing. Then on September 2, Rizzolo filed a 14 page
Motion to stay his surrender to prison pending the results of his Appeal.
On September 7, the United States Attorney filed a Response
to Rizzolo's Emergency Motion to stay his surrender. On the morning of
September 12, U.S. Judge Philip Pro Denied
Rizzolo's Emergency Motion to Stay his surrender. That afternoon, Rizzolo
filed a 5 page Emergency
Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying Defendant's Emergency Motion
to Stay Surrender. On September 13, Judge Pro promptly Denied
Rizzolo's second Emergency Motion to stay out of prison thereby sending
him to TCI on schedule two days later.
All together, an attorney told INSIDE VEGAS
that Rizzolo's stay-out-of jail legal shenanigans cost at least $20,000
in attorney's fees, money that should rightly go to pay his court ordered
debts now totaling over $17 million dollars. And where did Rizzolo get
the money to pay his top notch attorneys at Gordon
Silver Law Firm at a time when he claims
to be broke? Something I'm sure the feds are about to look into.
When Rizzolo served his first ten month
prison sentence for racketeering and tax evasion, he had quite a few visitors
including regular visits from his ex-wife according to prison records.
That's because he was incarcerated in the the Metropolitan
Detention Center (MDC) in Los Angeles just a four hour drive from Las
Vegas, and only 1.5 miles, or a short cab ride from the
Biltmore Hotel described in USA Today; "The grande dame of downtown
hotels is the elegant 1923 Millennium Biltmore Hotel..."
Rick's present abode is a lot less convenient
than MDC. TCI is located 45 miles from the nearest Hilton,
in Bakersfield -- a one hour drive from the prison not including the five
and a half hours of flying and layover time from Las Vegas.
However, Rick's ex-wife Lisa,
or best pals Fred
Rapuano, attorney Dominic
Gentile, and Piero's Restaurant owner Fredde
Glusman might find it's a lot more convenient to drive the 5 hours
45 minutes across the Mojave Desert from Vegas and stay in Taft or Maricopa
near the prison. Though they may not compare to the Millennium Biltmore,
Motel, or the Holland
Inn in Taft are only minutes away from the TCI visiting room.
Or the Motel
8 in Maricopa is just 3.8 miles away.
The Holland Inn was described in Trip
Advisor; "We stayed in Mariposa last year, which didn't work out very
well, and again this year at the Holland Inn, which didn't work out very
well either. Old motels don't have to be cruddy places, but they often
are. For the Holland Inn, cruddy would be a compliment."
The Motel 8 described in Trip Advisor;
"Had to stay here for work because there are no other choices. Maricopa
a 'dead' village. Nothing to do. Motel was cheap. Room had basic furnishings
all be it mismatched. Bed was soft and worn. Plush carpets were scary.
Bath room was clean for a cheap motel. Desk clerk was friendly. I would
not stay again if there was a choice." The other motels received similar
reviews, but staying near the prison is still better than a two hour round
trip drive to Bakersfield!
In stark contrast, while Rick was at MDC
Los Angeles, his visitors dined at the Biltmore's Gallery
Bar and Cognac Room described in the Beverly Hills Times; "
...shines in upscale finery. From romanticism felt from the lovely
chandeliers, to the divine oak paneling, this is the place to wine and
dine...what an amazing spot for a drink in true classic style. A
gracious staff is the key element to what makes this gorgeous and ultra
inviting spot such a truly grand enjoyment."
Some Vegas folks may have visited Rick
just as a excuse to stay in such lush surroundings.
But all is not lost. In Taft, there's a
unique restaurant favored by many TCI visitors, the Chicken
of Oz. The eatery owned by Oz Katz is described by Jerry; "Food
is great, great evening atmosphere, cooks and waitresses are top notch...highly
recommended. Try the Philly, best in Kern County."
Though it may not be Piero's or the Cognac
Room, Rizzolo's family and associates will find the Chicken of Oz a comfortable
meeting place during their visits. The melancholy rendition of "Somewhere
over the rainbow" (music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y.
Harburg) featured on the
restaurant's website has been known to bring more than one TCI visitor
I recommend that Lisa, Fred, Joey, Vinny,
Rocco, Al, and Dominic try the Cheese Ravioli, small salad, and garlic
bread with chicken breast, only $9.38. Better than anything I've had at
Piero's or Glusman's former Newport Beach bistro the Ritz. (Fredde should
take culinary pointers from his lonsman Oz
"I got out of the Camp at Taft CI about 3 weeks ago, and while it's all
still fresh in my head I wanted to put down what I can to help take away
as much of the mystery and the fear of the unknown as I can.
off, the Camp is a minimum security facility, which means there are no
fences or walls, no violent criminals, weirdos, hard core gang members
or gangs, or anything like that. Although most of the people there are
for drugs (about 70% or so), they are all non violent offenders in there
for their first offense, or they have been model inmates who have worked
their way down from Low or Medium security facilities. Everyone from Tommy
Chong to millionaires to people like me have spent time at Taft. So first
off, don't worry about getting in fights, getting raped, having someone
take your food or possessions, or anything silly like that. It just doesn't
you turn yourself in, no matter what your lawyer told you or probation
dept, fbi, doj, whoever, bring:
I'd recommend at least $300 for the first month. From there on out you
can have someone send you in more money each month. The first month is
the most expensive because you'll need to buy the basics, get more clothes
and get some semi-real food. You can bring in whatever amount you want
to; I've seen people come in with thousands of dollars to put on their
books. Bring it either in CASH or a Postal Money Order and that's it. Otherwise
it will take a long time for it to clear and get put on your books.
(drivers license) and Social Security Card! They will keep them in your
file while you're in. If you don't at least bring your ID, they won't take
sweats, white socks, white underware/boxers, white t-shirt, mostly white
or mostly black shoes! They expect you to come dressed as an inmate when
you get there. I know it sounds weird, but they do. I would get a quality
sweat bottom and top, and a pair of sweat shorts to wear under them. Just
get the normal gray color with little or no logos on them. If they are
another color or have too many logos, they won't let you keep them. Also
wear a white t-shirt, a white pair of underwear or boxers and a pair of
white socks. Any other color then white and you can't keep them. Most importantly
are the shoes! Get a new pair of shoes in mostly white or mostly black.
Logos are ok as long as it's not too flashy and the shoes are not worth
over $100. You'll wear the heck out of your shoes, so get a good pair.
Once you're in, it takes up to 2 months to get new shoes! You can also
optionally bring in a watch, not worth over $100, and a necklace with a
religious item on it (cross, etc.) also not worth over $100.
and Medication! If you are on any prescriptions from your doctor, bring
them with you along with any medication you may still have. They will give
it to the medical facility on the Camp side so you'll have all your meds
once you get there. Pill-call will be explained to you during orientation.
with peoples contact information on it! You can bring in paperwork if you
want to, but it has to be just piece(s) of paper, not in a notebook or
whatever. I printed out a list of peoples names, addresses and phone numbers
and took it with me. Once you're in, rather then having to wait for someone
to send you a list, you'll have it so you can get phone numbers added to
your phone list of people you can call, and you'll have all the addresses
of people you want to write.
you have any questions, call Taft before you show up!"
Taft Camp (upper right) is co-located with a medium security
Taft Camp administration building, housing unit, and exercise yard
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Steve Miller)
Another former Taft inmate offered this
advice to Rick:
is where prison really begins. You'll be taken to the R&D area and
processed, which involves signing a lot of paper work, having your picture
taken for your ID card they give you and talking to a ton of people as
part of your intake interview. You'll be taken to medical and have your
vitals taken and given a TB test, and asked some health questions. The
entire process takes a few hours.
Camp is co-located with a medium security prison. There are around 500
to 550 people at the Camp at any given time, broken into 4 dorms, A, B,
C and D (compared to the 12 on the Main Side). You will be assigned to
one of those dorms, and once you get there you'll be given some linen for
your bed and escorted to your bunk by the CO you got turned over to on
the Camp side. You'll grab a mattress (how they can call them that is a
crime in itself, lol), go to your bunk and then the CO leaves. Most likely
because you're new, you'll be put into a 3 person cube as the 2 people
cubes are reserved for people who have been there a while. The cubes are
small, like 10x10 and 6 feet high, so it's pretty cramped. The dorm is
basically a big open bay with these concrete cubes in 4 rows. They remind
me of office cubes, but made out of concrete. There is a gang bathroom,
similar to the kind you would see in the military. You have one room with
sinks, one with urinals and toilet stalls (yes they are private) and one
with showers (also private). There are some TV rooms and a rec room in
your dorm to, but most of the time the TVs have something like Jerry Springer,
soaps or wrestling on so it's not much to watch. I didn't watch TV at all
when I was in.
is plenty of A/C and heating inside, so you don't have to worry about getting
hot or cold. The beds suck, and it'll take you about 3 weeks to get adjusted
and get any kind of restful sleep. The food sucks overall, but they do
have some Ok meals.
on your crime, your race and how nice your bunkies (cube mates) are, you'll
be shown the ropes by someone. If you're Mexican/Hispanic, black, Asian
or white, usually someone from your race will show you the ropes and introduce
you around to people. They will help you buy what you need, show you where
to go and when, and all the other stuff you need to know. Besides this,
race isn't much a factor in the camp any more than it is anywhere else.
Everyone is friends with everyone else, but like anywhere in the world
there will be people you think are jerks. No one wants to get into a fight
because of what can happen (going to the hole, being transferred, getting
moved to the Low, etc.), so people just avoid people they don't care for.
sweat it, you'll make friends and there are cool people in there. Ages
range from 18 to grandpa, with most being in the early to mid 20s and the
late 30's to early 40's. Don't be scared to ask questions! Everyone in
there knows what it's like to be new, and they go out of their way to be
helpful and nice.
you get in, within a day or two you'll be able to make your first phone
call to the number you put down as your emergency contact number when you
inprocessed. You can add more numbers later on, but it takes around a week
to get them added. You can start getting and receiving mail right away
too. My girlfriend sent me a letter before I left so I got it the second
day I was there.
besides the everyday life there, that is what you can expect when you get
to Taft. It's a hard day for sure when you turn yourself in, and it takes
about a month before you get fully adjusted, but you will adjust.
leaving court on July 20, 2011 with attorneys Dominic Gentile and Margaret
being sentenced to nine additional months in US Federal Prison, a two year
supervised release, and banishment from all casinos during the term of
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Mike Christ)
Here's a note from a lady who was the mistress
of a former Taft inmate:
read your article and all I can say is OH PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK!
Rick to Taft is like sending them to a resort at Cancun without the Frangelica
the hell do you think they do all day?
know as well as I that all these guys do is plan the next scam, and talk:
'That m----- f----- son of a bitch.' 'I'm gonna break his f----n'
head.' And 'Wait till I get out!' YADA YADA YADA............
yeah, and the visits are monitored with a video camera, but unless they
have lip readers, believe me, plans are being put in place for either moving
money around or taking care of their businesses!
the guys like Rick who owned the strip clubs? I knew several from
South Florida and going away is nothing to them because of all the money
they have made and hidden. And it is hidden!
as far as being unpleasant for family and friends to visit, it isn't that
bad It (Taft) is a small town and was used as a back drop in a Kurt
Russel/Robin Williams movie, and other shoots as well.
be told the few times I visited Taft I incorporated a trip to the
coast, maybe an hour drive. This is where Carmine Persico is or was,
not sure, I haven't heard from him in years. But I know while he
was there he was planting tomatoes, playing in a band and doing all the
other typical tasks for wiseguys in security. I just hope Rick gets out
and goes straight, but seriously don't hold your breath It is embarrassing
for the families and friends and especially for the kids.
if I sound bitter, I guess after 16 years of that mob crap, I have had
it. Probably why I make fun of it. Oh well! We all make mistakes. Actually
(name withheld) and I were never married (smart move on my part). We learn
from our mistakes and that was one I learned from." - Name withheld by
It's probably just a coincidence, but I
drive within a few miles of TCI at least twelve times each year on my way
to my second home on the Central Coast. On one of my trips in 2007, I visited
the prison and took the photo of the exercise yard (above) for an AmericanMafia.com
I was working on. At the time, it was anticipated that Rizzolo, Mike
Galardi, and Vinny Faraci were to be sentenced to Taft, but plans changed
and they were sent to other facilities.
Back on April 29, 2007, before his first
prison stay, with several Appeals and Requests for Reconsideration of his
sentence laying on Judge Pro's desk, Rizzolo threw himself a "Farewell
Party" at Fredde Glusman's former Ritz
Restaurant in Newport Beach, the exclusive Southern California town
where the Rizzolo's have a luxurious 3,700 square foot beach house on Ocean
Front Drive. Many Vegas and Newport Beach luminaries attended.
VEGAS had someone stationed at the secret Ritz party, and on May 7, 2007,
the news of the festivities and gained a reputation for being a real
party pooper. The U.S. Attorney informed
the court of the party, and on May 21, INSIDE VEGAS told how the
party backfired when Judge Pro threw out all of Rizzolo's original
Appeals, Requests for Reconsideration, and Motions to Stay his incarceration,
and changed Rizzolo's prison location from Taft to the maximum security
Los Angeles Federal Detention Center (photo on left).
It appears Rizzolo's arrogance screwed
up his first chance of being assigned to the Taft Minimum Security Camp
sometimes wrongly called "Camp
Granada" (Lyrics by Allan Sherman, Music from Ponchielli's
"Dance of the Hours") by those who've never been sentenced there.
Taft is plush compared to the downtown
LA jail with balconies covered by razor wire where Rizzolo ended up last
time. But Taft is totally inconvenient when it comes to visitation. Over
the next 9 months, his isolation and the trouble it takes to visit him
will let Rick know who his real friends are.
Last week when Rizzolo turned himself in
at Taft, it didn't take attorneys for beating
victim Kirk Henry much time to shift into overdrive. On the eve of
Rizzolo's incarceration, a Subpoena
was issued to Pennsylvania businessman Vince Piazza to force him to appear
in Philadelphia for deposition on Sept. 28 to discuss the whereabouts of
$3 million dollars he paid Rizzolo for his share of the Philadelphia Crazy
Rizzolo still owes Henry over $14 million
in court ordered restitution and interest that he refused to pay which
resulted in his additional nine months of prison time and two year parole
extension which begins on June 15, 2012 when he gets out.
So far, Piazza has been cooperative with
Henry's legal team and Federal Prosecutors in their quest to collect the
millions Rick and Lisa Rizzolo owe Henry and the IRS.
In my INSIDE
VEGAS column of August 29, 2011, I emphasized that Piazza probably
regrets the day he ever met Rick Rizzolo.
Piazza is a highly respected Pennsylvania
businessman who owns 11
new car dealerships, and relies on his impeccable reputation to generate
new and repeat business. He certainly doesn't need his customers knowing
he made a horrendous mistake in judgment by partnering with a mobster,
so I doubt Vince will appear on Rick's visitors list at TCI.
Then there's the upcoming legal troubles
to which Rick exposed his ex-wife Lisa and stepmother Kim Tran Rizzolo.
Lisa is hiding millions of Rick's ill-gotten
dollars and assets in phony off shore bank accounts and trusts put together
by a local attorney described by his peers as "scummy."
Scummy because that attorney hid much of
the Rizzolo's fortune that was beaten
out of Vegas strip club customers, the
reason the City of Las Vegas shut the club down, and why the Feds seized
the building and property.
And now Kim Tran is hiding $789,000 that
transferred to her late husband Bart Rizzolo by Piazza as part of the
Philly strip club sale. (It's not confirmed that Piazza knew at the time
that he was participating in a scam designed so the Rizzolos could avoid
paying Henry and the IRS.)
So far, Kim Tran's attorney Herb Sachs
filed one Defense
document stating: "Any harm allegedly suffered by Plaintiff was caused
by persons, firms or corporations other than Defendant."
In other words, Kim Tran Rizzolo didn't
personally break Kirk Henry's neck, so she can keep the money. That said,
we'll see how long it takes for the Judge to order her to turn over the
$789,000 that was court ordered to be paid to Henry.
As a special
condition of his sentence, Rizzolo has been ordered to expatriate his
ex-wife's off shore stash, or she could possibly face indictment.
While he cools his heals so far from the
lights of Vegas and longs for inconvenient visits from friends and family,
Rick Rizzolo will have nine solitary months to ponder the harm he's done
to Kirk Henry, and is about to do to his ex-wife and stepmother if they
try to keep his fortune out of the hands of debtors.
I know I won't be listed on his visitors
list, but each time I whizz (no pun intended) by that desolate fortress
near Taft on the way to my sanctuary by the sea, I'm gonna think of Rick
Rizzolo and the choices he made to put himself, his friends, and loved
ones in such harm's way.
HOW TO VISIT RICK
ROOM DRESS CODE FOR FEMALE VISITORS
DIRECTIONS FROM LAS VEGAS TO TAFT CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
HOW TO SEND
CIGARETTE MONEY TO RICK
TO E-MAIL RICK AT TAFT