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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

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:

Fau murder case to be revisited
Federal Grand Jury reportedly reexamining cause of death

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 19, 2004

LAS VEGAS --  Scott David Fau was a huge man of Samoan decent. On August 4, 1995, the 6-foot-4, 310 pound long-haul truck driver visited the Crazy Horse Too topless bar just off the Las Vegas Strip. Several hours later, his lifeless body was found next to railroad tracks behind the bar. Fau left behind a wife and two daughters. His crime? Possibly being too big and too gentle at the wrong time and place.

Fau and several companions parked their rigs at a nearby truck terminal and walked several blocks to the Crazy Horse. There, according to a club employee, Fau quietly sat at the bar and consumed three Long Island ice teas in two hours while being a "perfect gentleman."

The employee said Fau's bigness immediately caught the attention of bouncers Joe Blasko, Paul Luca, Darrin Brey and Michael Muscato. "They were intimidated by his size and wanted to challenge him," explained the employee who in 2003, according to sources,  testified to a Federal Grand Jury about the incident.

L to R - Michael Muscato, Darrin Brey
(Review Journal photo by John Gurzinski)

Israel Bella said he was driving north on Industrial Road past the Crazy Horse when he noticed a large group of men in front of the club. Bella, who works for a local paving company, was on his way to work when he noticed a man on the ground surrounded by a group of men all wearing black pants. "There was one guy on the ground kind of curled up in a ball," he said. "It looked like he was trying to protect himself." Bella called 911.

Another witness, garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier, told INSIDE VEGAS, "I seen the severe beating of Scott David Fau from my front office and was shocked when the paramedics came and he did not go with the ambulance. He headed south on Industrial Road in a bad condition."

Shortly after walking away from medical help, witnesses reported seeing Fau return to the Crazy Horse. At that time another beating allegedly occurred in the back parking lot according to Dan Kennedy, the manager of an adult book store located next door.

Kennedy in a taped interview stated, "Yeah, they're the one that beat up this Hawaiian guy out there that was just - - the poor guy wasn't even moving, and they were kicking him, and, um, at that point that's all. They were just kicking him around, jumping on him, stomping on his arm. They stomped his leg. Kicked him in the stomach. They kept - Moe was kicking him in the head, and you just watched his head wiggle around. The manager guy would poke his head out the door, but he wouldn't walk out. He'd just - he'd open the door and look out and then step back in. I never seen - he didn't come out."

In a separate notarized affidavit, Kennedy stated: "You would walk out the door, see people getting beat up in the sidewalk, out in the street, in the parking lot. I walk out my back door and see the same thing. You see people having sex out back. It was a pretty common occurrence to see people being beat up out there."

Following his taped statement, Kennedy consented to a lie detector test that he passed with a perfect score. After Kennedy and Barrier's names appeared on a witness list, the owner of the club sued them both for Defamation. Judge Siatta was assigned the two separate Defamation cases that are still pending.

Fau was found dead near the railroad tracks two hours after the beating. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Clark County District Attorney opted to close the case without filing charges. On July 30, 1997, Las Vegas attorney Randall Pike on behalf of the victim's wife Camille and his two daughters Francesca and Nicole, filed a Wrongful Death lawsuit against the nightclub, its owner Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo, and accused assailants Blasko, Luca, Muscato and Brey. Brey is reportedly an ex-Nevada State Trooper.

Blasko and Luca died of "natural causes" before the case went to trial. Joe Blasko, a former LV cop, was alleged to have had a bitter falling out with Rizzolo just prior to his death.

Camille Fau was a kindergarten teacher in Carson, California. She lacked the financial ability to hire expert witnesses who would testify that blunt force trauma victims too often die hours or days following their injuries. She also could not afford to take witness depositions prior to trial. The financial weak link in her case would be discovered early on. Rizzolo's attorneys hired professional  medical experts to testify that Fau's beating had nothing to do with his death, and potential Plaintiff's witnesses were sued for Defamation.

The case was assigned to several judges who either recused or were preempted by Crazy Horse attorneys. Judge Nancy M. Saitta finally was assigned the case on January 5, 2001, and trial was scheduled for February 1, 2001. The trial date was vacated and rescheduled for July 21, 2001.

On July 6, 2001, without notice, Judge Saitta summarily dismissed the entire case just two weeks before it was scheduled to go to trial. The Fau family was devastated.

Fau's attorney immediately appealed Saitta's untimely decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. Five weeks later on August 14 -- before the Justices could rule on the appeal -- Judge Saitta abruptly changed her mind and reversed her ruling citing "newly postured evidence provided," and set a new trial date for March 18, 2002. Then, on March 12, Saitta suddenly took the trial off her calendar -- again -- just one week before it was scheduled to begin. She later reset trial for January 6, 2003.

Records obtained from the Nevada Secretary of State list Rick Rizzolo as Judge Saitta's biggest campaign contributor during her last two elections. Unfortunately in Nevada, the fact that a judge received political campaign contributions from a litigant does not force disqualification.

       Judge Saitta

The abbreviated trial finally went on as scheduled. "We had witnesses that were intimidated. We had witnesses who didn't show up. It just shows that the ongoing criminal activity of employees of the Crazy Horse Too is a lot more far-reaching than they would like people to believe, " stated Pike after the jury deliberated just two hours and ruled in Rizzolo's favor. Club representatives called the quick verdict a vindication. "We are exonerated," exclaimed Rizzolo attorney Tony Sgro.

Rizzolo leaving court after verdict

Rizzolo's pathologists testified as expected -- that the beatings had nothing to do with Fau's death. Rizzolo’s attorneys cited Dr. Sheldon Green, the former chief medical examiner for Clark County, who attributed Fau's death to "a fall from a moving train." However, a Declaration filed with the court by pathologist Griffith Thomas, M.D. stated that Fau received "blunt force trauma consistent with a severe beating and/or positional asphyxiation," but his Declaration made no connection to Fau's death.

Fau's lone attorney called no expert witnesses. Dan Kennedy could not be located to be served a subpoena and Judge Saitta removed him from the witness list before trial. Instead the jury only heard Camille Fau as she pleaded, "He was one of the kindest men I ever met. I knew him not only as his wife but as his friend," while her two daughters, ages 8 and 12, sat silently in the audience.

Marsha Stephenson, one of the attorneys representing the club and employees Michael Muscato and Darrin Brey, told the jury that Fau's allegations that club employees beat her husband to death had no evidence to back them up.

Stephenson told the jurors that there just wasn't enough time for the second beating to have occurred at the hands of club employees, explaining that Brey and Paul Luca had broken their hands in the first altercation and had gone to University Medical Center for treatment. She didn't speak of the possibility that while Brey and Luca were at the hospital, other club employees may have beaten Fau a second time at the back of the nightclub.

"It's just a story," Stephenson said to the jury. "Sympathy cannot be a determining factor in this case. You have to determine if there was some action by the defendants that resulted in Scott Fau's death."

Pike alleged that after Metro Police and paramedics left the scene, Fau returned and was again attacked and beaten to death. "He (Fau) crawled through vegetation and up a berm after he was beaten," Pike said. "It took everything the big man had to crawl to the spot where he died."

Camille Fau (Review Journal photo by John Gurzinski)

Buffalo Jim Barrier, a former pro wrestler and wrestling school owner, told INSIDE VEGAS, "In the professional boxing and wrestling world, blunt force trauma has killed many a man hours after a match." Barrier was not called to testify at trial even though he said he witnessed the first beating, and has professional knowledge of the after effects of blunt force trauma on the brains of boxers and wrestlers.

Scott David Fau
(LV Coroner's photo)

In response to the Fau verdict and a subsequent beating at the Crazy Horse that rendered another man a quadriplegic, former Federal Prosecutor Donald Campbell stated, "For years, the management and 'security' staff of the Crazy Horse has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers, and corrupt ex-cops. Most, if not all, have well documented ties to organized crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death."

Following a series of newspaper articles I authored on Fau's death, Rick Rizzolo responded to my publisher:

"Mr. Fau was not found beaten to death. Mr. Fau was not even dead when he was found. Contrary to what Mr. (Steve) Miller chooses to report, the coroner who examined Mr. Fau's body could not determine the cause of death but completely ruled out that Mr. Fau was beaten to death or that his death was caused by an altercation. Mr. Fau, with his friend, had come into the Crazy Horse Too in an inebriated state and threatened and harassed my bartender, When my employees were attempting to eject Mr. Fau, who was at least six feet tall and weighed 300 pounds, from the club, Mr. Fau took off his belt, wrapped it around his hand, and struck one or more of my employees, injuring them. Two of my employees eventually had to go to the hospital for those injuries. The police had to be called in and it was the police who ejected Mr. Fau and his friend from the premises and saw these two people walk southwards away from the club. At least three hours had elapsed before Mr. Fau's body was found on the train tracks far from Crazy Horse Too."

Shortly after issuing the above statement, Rizzolo sued my publisher and myself for Defamation, and then attempted to obtain a Gag Order to stop my reporting violent incidents at his place of business. His Defamation case was also assigned to Judge Saitta. The Gag Order was denied, and two years later he dropped the Defamation lawsuit without explanation.

According to testimony, a little more than 30 minutes passed between the time police left and the time club employees went to the hospital to seek treatment for their broken hands. Jurors said that 30 minutes was the key to the case.

"There wasn't enough time for a second beating," said Dawn Randall, the jury forewoman. "That's what it came down to," juror Samantha Slate said. "The scenario they gave us, we just didn't find it likely."

The alleged witness to the second beating, Dan Kennedy, in his taped transcript identified a possible fifth assailant -- a man named "Moe." In his transcript, Kennedy stated, "Moe was kicking him in the head." Judge Saitta would not allow the jury to read the transcript or hear the tape.

A bouncer by the name of Maurice "Moe" McKenna, 41, was employed at the Crazy Horse at the time of Fau's death. McKenna, a 300 pound, 6' 1" man, was cited but not taken into custody on May 30, 2002, for the alleged beating of Scottsdale, Arizona tourist Michael Silverman. This was the second citation against McKenna for allegedly beating Crazy Horse Too patrons.

McKenna was also identified as the bouncer who allegedly assaulted Glendale, California tourist Chris Johnson on October 21, 2002. Johnson in a police report stated that a Crazy Horse bouncer pushed him into the street where he fell twisting his ankle. Johnson stated that the man who pushed him weighed over 300 pounds and matched McKenna's description.

The employee who reportedly testified before the Federal Grand Jury told INSIDE VEGAS: "They were intimidated by his size and wanted to challenge him." McKenna was also a giant of a man. The statement "wanted to challenge him" is the most troubling because it may indicate the frightening possibility that bored bar employees instigate fights with customers of large physical stature just for the sport of it.

Another Crazy Horse employee once stated, "I think that it is a shame that these owners get away with hiring morons. Can we get some educated people in this industry? How long can we continue this type of crap?"

The jury was not informed of "Moe" McKenna's presence at the Crazy Horse on the day of Fau's death, nor his history of violence.

Bart Rizzolo, Rick's father, stated, "There has got to be a way to get back at people who file lawsuits. There has never been a suit filed that we haven't beaten and I'm hoping our record will stay that way. If a customer gets out of line, we help the guy out, we don't throw him out."

    Bart Rizzolo

Camille Fau said she and her two daughters were devastated by the verdict. "I really am horrified that these people let them get away with this. I am livid," she said. "What their verdict told me was that my husband's life meant nothing."

On February 2, 2003, the FBI raided the Crazy Horse and took files related to the Fau case and others. A Federal Grand Jury was convened to hear evidence produced by the inquiry. Rizzolo's attorneys protested and moved that the raiding FBI agents be held in Contempt and all files be returned.

On October 15, 2003, a Federal Judge ruled that the club's attorneys failed to prove the government violated the club's Constitutional rights by taking the files (including Fau's) and threw out the Contempt motion against the FBI agents.

The case of Scott David Fau is far from over.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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