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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:

Rick Rizzolo gets a year and a day,
Vinny Faraci's angel revealed,
And the incest continues!

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 29, 2007

Lying in the foothills of the
Santa Lucia Mountains that separate the lush San Joaquin Valley from the Central California coast and vineyards, is Taft Federal Correctional Institution.

The facility is run under contract by Wackenhut Services, Inc., and is a low to medium security prison camp housing approximately 1,900 male inmates.

Last week, Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo and his associate Vinny Faraci received sentences at Taft; Rizzolo's one year and one day to begin on May 22, and Faraci's five months to begin on July 1.

Rizzolo went before U.S. Federal Court Chief Judge Philip M. Pro, and Faraci was sentenced by U.S. Federal Judge Kent Dawson. Both defendants plea bargained to felony tax evasion, though they were originally expected to be charged with extortion, robbery, racketeering and tax evasion.

Judge Pro also accepted the plea agreement of Rizzolo's corporation "The Power Company" to Federal charges of racketeering. He sentenced the corporation to five years probation, but it's doubtful the corporation will serve any time since it exists only on paper.

You may be asking why both defendants were let off so easy, especially if you're aware of the pain and suffering they caused?

(L to R, top to bottom)
Scott Fau (deceased) - 8/4/95, Paul Russo - 12/12/97, Jermaine Simieou - 4/30/02
Kirk Henry - 9/20/01, Eben Kostbar - 7/3/01, Eddie Soula  - 07/15/04

I'm not sure about Judge Pro especially since he could have sentenced Rizzolo to only house arrest, but something interesting has turned up on Judge Dawson that courtroom observers now believe should have caused him to recuse.
There's a connection between U.S. Federal Court Judge Kent Dawson and Vinny Faraci!

 David Chesnoff     Jay Brown and Mike Signorelli
When Judge Dawson gave Bonnano crime family associate Vinny Faraci the most lenient sentence possible, Faraci was represented by David Chesnoff who is LV Mayor Oscar Goodman and Jay Brown's law partner. Brown is also United States Senator Harry Reid's business partner in a very questionable land deal, and Brown is currently representing Mike Signorelli who is purportedly trying to buy the Crazy Horse Too. Brown once served with Goodman as Rizzolo's corporate agent.

Coincidentally, Senator Reid appointed Kent Dawson to the Federal Bench.

The December 26, 1999 Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial stated; "On Wednesday, Sen. Reid announced that U.S. Magistrate Roger Hunt, Henderson Justice of the Peace Kent Dawson, and attorney Eve Garcia-Mendoza were his choices to fill three federal judicial openings in Las Vegas."

See the connection?

According to the October 13, 2006 Washington Post, "Mr. Reid bought undeveloped property on the outskirts of fast-growing Las Vegas for about $400,000 in 1998 -- one parcel outright and a second jointly with Mr. Brown. In 2001, Mr. Reid sold the land for the same price to a corporation he co-owned with Mr. Brown, who in the meantime was getting the land rezoned from residential to commercial use. But the senator didn't report the sale on his annual financial disclosure form. When the new company sold the land to developers in 2004, yielding $1.1 million for Mr. Reid, the senator did not accurately list the transaction or go back and fix the previous forms to reflect the new arrangement."

Senator Reid is beholden to Jay Brown for helping him make a $700,000 profit in the land deal, and Judge Dawson is beholden to Senator Reid for appointing him to the Federal Bench. See the connection, and the reason Judge Dawson should've abstained?

Now, according to the January 24, 2007 Las Vegas Review-Journal, "(Federal Prosecutor Eric) Johnson said the New York State Commission on Crime verified Faraci's ties to the Bonanno group. Still, Dawson said the ties to the crime family did not play into Faraci's sentence."

Sources close to the (ongoing) Federal investigation told me that in their opinion someone encouraged the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to go easy on Rizzolo and Faraci. Federal officials complain that too many man hours and dollars were spent on "Operation Crazy Horse" for the light sentences given Rizzolo and Faraci by the local Federal Court.
The reason is becoming clear. Mayor Goodman is overtly and covertly protecting the liquor license of his law firm's clients at the Crazy Horse Too. Up until July 10, 2006, he was so outspoken about allowing the topless bar to stay open that an Ethics Complaint had to be filed to make him shut up! Now he abstains on all matters concerning the Crazy Horse, but his fingerprints are all over the actions of city staff recommending the bar stay open, and his law partners Jay Brown and David Chesnoff represent the Crazy Horse mobsters when they appear before the City Council or a local judge, while Mr. Brown also handles matters in D.C.
The incest continues!

       photo by Mike Christ
In this photo you see Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro in the white shirt talking to  Faraci (black suit) and Bart Rizzolo. At sentencing, Faraci's lawyer
David Chesnoff (Jay Brown's law partner);  "...fought for house arrest, saying Faraci is engaged in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife. If Faraci is incarcerated for a lengthy period of time, his wife might be granted full custody and take the children out of state. Faraci echoed his concerns when asked whether he had any comment before sentencing. 'Anything the court can do to help me ... the court will never see me before him again,' Faraci vowed," as reported by Adrienne Packer of the Review-Journal.

Judge Dawson appeared overly sympathetic, then dutifully lightened Faraci's sentence.
However, it seemed all too incestuous that a judge would give leniency to a mobbed-up defendant who was represented by the law partner of the U.S. Senator who appointed him to the bench! 

Judges are supposed to always "avoid the appearance of impropriety."

Now here's the zinger!

The bitter ex-wife Chesnoff so aptly used as an excuse to get his client leniency is now the wife of Rick Rizzolo's lawyer Tony Sgro! 

According to the Clark County Recorder, Anthony Patrick Sgro married (ex-stripper) Frances Mae Ryan on March 20, 2005 in Las Vegas. (Mr. Sgro according to county records showed extreme prudence by not transferring any of his personal assets to his bride after the ceremony. Smart move!)

Between her divorce from Faraci and marriage to Sgro, Ryan dated NY Mets all star catcher and Rizzolo pal Mike Piazza whose father Vince Piazza is the owner of the Philadelphia Crazy Horse Too whose landlord is Rick Rizzolo.

And then there's Rizzolo sentencing when his attorney Sgro told Judge Pro,
"He (Rizzolo) lost his friendships, he lost his entire identity, he lost his entire lifestyle, he lost a significant amount of money post plea."

Sgro went on to say, "Mr. Rizzolo wasn't present when the crimes were committed."  "If I were to have told Mr. Rizzolo he would be thrown off his own property along with his family members, he probably wouldn't have accepted a plea agreement." "We had no idea that the City Council would shut the Crazy Horse Too down." "Please give him probation because he's suffered enough already." "God only knows what the City Council will do in 90 days (when Signorelli is brought back for permanent licensing)." "Losing his friends and millions was not bargained for."

Then Rizzolo rose and made this amazing statement: "I think you have a pretty good picture of what I bought into and what I got out of it."

He made it sound as if the whole sordid affair was just a giant poker game!

Judge Pro responded to Sgro and Rizzolo by saying, "Was there a curve thrown after the plea (the City Council shutting the place down)? Yes. But nothing done in this court can bind another sovereignty (the City Council), nor can the City Council bind this court. To influence is fine, but not to bind. Is Mr. Rizzolo in a bobbing cork situation? Yes. He agreed to foot the bill for co-conspirators. That happens a lot.  Congress cites factors Federal Courts must consider for sentence, to promote respect for the law, prevent disparities. Mr. Rizzolo was the leader and derived a substantial income for a long time. He set the tone for unacceptable behavior of those he employed. In interest of deterring others from such conduct, some imprisonment promotes respect for the law. "

Judge Pro then ordered "some imprisonment," but many court observers, especially the FBI agents present, felt he was way too lenient.

Rizzolo, lighting a cigarette, brushed past reporters waiting outside the courthouse as he made his way to Sgro's waiting black Mercedes. Later that evening he was seen at this favorite haunt buying rounds of drinks for his friends.

Hmmm.... I wonder if Al Capone would have been sent to Alcatraz -- also for tax evasion -- if his attorneys made as eloquent a plea as Sgro and Chesnoff made? Or if John Gotti would have gotten life for murder if he plead that his corporation did it?

Remember, Rizzolo with the help of his then-attorney Oscar Goodman got off with no jail time after pleading guilty to the 1985 beating of a Crazy Horse patron with a baseball bat. The patron, Rick Sandland, died three years later of complications caused by the attack.

And don't forget the late Scott David Fau who was beaten to death in 1995 by Crazy Horse bouncers while Vinny Faraci reportedly watched. According to the taped statement of eye witness Dan Kennedy,
a man he identified as "Vinny" was looking out the door at the beating-taking place. Kennedy said Vinny was the manager of the club at the time.

After release from prison, Rizzolo will be under the supervision of the Department of Parole and Probation for a 36 month period. During that time, the Department will have 24 hour access to his residence and unlimited access to his financial and bank records. (I wonder if they'll check the safety deposit boxes full of cash he keeps in the cages at several Strip casinos?)
Rizzolo is also ordered to not have any dealings with or be a business consultant to any adult oriented business for the rest of his life. But that doesn't stop Faraci who is not bound by the same orders.

While serving together at the Taft "country club," the two will have five months (Faraci's sentence) to discuss Faraci's recent purchase of a Vegas topless bar called Strip Tease. Sources close to Rizzolo and Faraci tell INSIDE VEGAS that Faraci is making the purchase with Rizzolo's money.

And what about Mike Signorelli paying $45 million for a place described as a "toilet" by Federal agents who raided the Crazy Horse in 2002? Is he really going to close the deal by June when Judge Pro ordered the club be sold, or put into receivership? Business at the Crazy Horse dropped to a trickle after Signorelli took over, and he hasn't been able to afford to pay Rizzolo one cent in rent.

And what about
Athanasios Karaholios? Karaholios bid on the Crazy Horse before Signorelli, but was squelched when Rizzolo reportedly tried to force himself in as a silent partner and Karaholios refused.

It's so obvious that Rizzolo is blackmailing the City Council. At Rizzolo's sentencing, Sgro played a video of Kirk Henry's wife Amy pleading to the City Council last October to let the Crazy Horse stay open so it could be sold to raise the funds to pay her family their $10 million dollar judgment -- a very ironic plea when the same club she asked to remain open almost killed her husband!

The video showed her standing at the podium with her attorneys Donald Campbell and Stan Hunterton (who also have not been paid).

Judge Pro gave this analogy to describe her ironic actions; "Mrs. Henry had ten million reasons to ask the City Council to let the Crazy Horse Too remain in business." "She's being treated like a ping pong ball."

Sadly, Mrs. Henry and her lawyer's desperate plea did not take into consideration the safety of future Kirk Henry's. Until the City Council threw Rizzolo out, Rizzolo and his goons intended to continue running the place "as is" according to a CONFIDENTIAL PURCHASE AGREEMENT slipped to INSIDE VEGAS. That meant beating up more customers who, like Kirk Henry, might balk at paying inflated credit card tabs -- the way Rizzolo made most of his profit over the years. By their actions, Mrs. Henry and her attorneys had "ten million reasons" not to care about future Crazy Horse patrons.

Not once at Rizzolo's sentencing hearing did anyone mention liquidating Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's personal assets that would certainly amount to enough to settle his $17 million dollar legal obligations including the Henry's judgment, IRS, and the legal fees still owned to Campbell and Hunterton.

I guess that would really upset the apple cart! Rizzolo is a "Whale" on the Strip with a million dollar line of credit and is expected to continue his gambling binges after he gets out of prison.

If his personal assets are liquidated, a bunch of Strip casino moguls would lose a goose that lays golden eggs, and in a gambling town, that's unacceptable.

Encyclopedia Britannica:
After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the American Mafia abandoned its bootlegging operations and settled into gambling, labour racketeering, loan-sharking, narcotics distribution, and prostitution rings. It grew to be the largest and most powerful of the U.S. syndicated-crime organizations, and it reinvested the profits accruing from crime in the ownership of such legitimate businesses as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment ventures.

Investigations conducted by U.S. government agencies in the 1950s and '60s revealed that the structure of the American Mafia was similar to that of its Sicilian prototype. (In the United States, the organization had adopted the name Cosa Nostra [Italian: “Our Affair”].) From the 1950s, Mafia operations were conducted by some 24 groups, or “families,” throughout the country. In most cities where syndicated crime operated, there was one family, but in New York City there were five: Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno.

While this sick melodrama drags on, the majority of Las Vegas voters are expected to show their ignorance once again this June when they reelect Oscar Goodman to his third and final term. Like the late Richard J. Daley of Chicago, Goodman has a war chest in the millions -- much of it from unknown sources -- is a big crook -- and no serious candidate has stepped forward to challenge him, especially in a town that's proud of its' nickname, "Sin City."

And they said the mob left Vegas years ago...

Copyright © Steve Miller

Steve Miller is the author and sponsor of the City of Las Vegas Ethics in Government Law enacted in 1991. Soon after Oscar Goodman was elected Mayor, he had the law abolished.

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