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
Going away parties held for Rizzolo in Vegas
& Philly while his attorney tries to squelch
sale of his Sin City club to an outsider
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve
January 30, 2006
LAS VEGAS - Its been a busy week for
rumor mongers on both coasts. In Sin City, the buzz is that San
Francisco real estate mogul Luke Brugnara applied to the city business
license department for a temporary license to operate the Vegas Crazy
Horse Too strip club. Its also rumored that he offered $40 million for
the business and property, and the offer was accepted.
In Philadelphia, Rick Rizzolo, the purported owner of the Vegas Crazy
Horse, was granted a liquor license without
a background check or public hearing, and last week opened the East
Coast version of the Horse complete with a transplanted Vegas manager
allegedly well versed in racketeering,
extortion, robbery, and tax evasion -- the skills Rizzolo, et.al.,
are accused of using to make his Sin City venue a financial success --
the same skills the Feds are expected to expose in court to insure that
Rizzolo is going away for a long long time.
Meanwhile, its PARTY ON!
New Years Eve 2006 at The Bellagio. Rick Rizzolo
(left) cavorts with Rocco Lombardo and friends. At the time,
Rocco's brother Joey "The Clown" Lombardo was still a fugitive from justice. Joey has since been caught and
indicted for 18 murders. Rocco, up
until recently, was an executive at the Las Vegas Crazy Horse Too, but
did not admit to knowing the
whereabouts of his brother for the eight months he was on the lam.
25, 2006. Philadelphia
city officials rushed to grant Rizzolo a liquor license without holding
a public hearing or checking his background (and we thought that only
happened in Vegas!). The Philadelphia Crazy Horse (photo on left) held
its Grand Opening last week with Vegas and Philly luminaries in
Back in Vegas, Las Vegas SUN columnist Jeff German
was the first to report
that San Francisco real estate man Luke Brugnara offered Rizzolo $40
million for his troubled LV club. But Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro is
suddenly trying to besmirch Brugnara's character -- possibly to squelch
"There is no deal
with Mr. Brugnara. He hasn't been in our life for quite some time.
There's nothing going on." - Tony Sgro
"Mr. Sgro's a liar. I do have a
deal. We have an agreement. We have a price. We have a closing date. We
have terms. And it's all set. I haven't gotten any phone call from Rick
telling me he's reneging on our deal. As of today, I have a deal to buy
the club." - Luke Brugnara
"We concluded that he wasn't serious about purchasing the Crazy Horse.
I think he was more interested in the fringe
benefits of owning a topless club." - Tony Sgro
Review Journal photos by Jeff
Schied and GaryThompson
"Fringe benefits?" Not exactly
encouraging words from an attorney who's supposed to be looking out for
his client's best interests. Brugnara is known to be a family man
active in the Catholic Church, so Sgro's words must surely have cut
deep. Brugnara is also well known for creating absolute misery for
anyone who gets in his way, and it looks like Sgro might have stepped
into his sights with that remark.
came to me in October of last year. I
didn't come to them. He was selling me the club because he
That's what his close advisers told me. For them to try to besmirch
through their attorney just shows that they obviously have some
ulterior motive for wasting my time." - Luke Brugnara, LV SUN, 01/27/06
If the clubs are allowed
to stay open, its expected that whoever succeeds Rizzolo as the next
operator of the Crazy Horses will be another front for organized crime.
But by Sgro openly attacking Brugnara, he paid the San Franciscan the
ultimate compliment. Apparently, Brugnara doesn't qualify as a mob
Whether Rizzolo's suspected backers, most with reported Chicago mob
ties, would accept the brash young Brugnara (37) horning in on their
Vegas gold mine is the question? He's known as being fiercely
independent and ruthless. Could Brugnara be so wealthy (his net worth
is estimated to be over one-half billion dollars) that he cannot be
influenced or intimidated -- two prerequisites for being a mob front
In other words, Brugnara may not be susceptible
to paying tribute, and in a town like Vegas, being that independent
could also inspire former mob attorney-turned-mayor Oscar Goodman to
find him unsuitable for licensure as did the Nevada Gaming Control
Rizzolo and many of his associates were former Goodman clients,
therefore they were found suitable
for liquor licenses. But Brugnara has no Vegas ties as proven in 2001
when the Nevada Gaming Control Board voted unanimously to deny his
gaming application. At the conclusion of the hearing he yelled, "It's so predictable what you'll do. The people
on the Strip wind you up." "This was a kangaroo court from day one.
These bureaucrats are jealous and envious of me."
According to writer Jeremy
Mullman in the San Francisco Weekly, "Brugnara
responded with nearly pyrotechnic anger, accusing the (Nevada Gaming)
commissioners of being controlled by a cartel of insiders and
threatening to sue.
Not exactly the actions of a well juiced mob associate!
Its said that our mayor never met a real mob
associate he didn't like -- or wouldn't license, so it would be
ironic if Mayor Goodman is asked to determine whether Brugnara is fit
to step into Rizzolo's shoes to run the Crazy Horse. Goodman treats
Rizzolo like a "Pillar of the
community, so those shoes may be hard to fill in Goodman's warped
opinion. I can even see Goodman chastising Brugnara at the licensing
hearing, then turning him down -- as if Rizzolo had been a fit operator.
expects to receive a temporary license within the next week or two.
However, the city council will have to approve his permanent license.
If the council approves the license transfer -- and they should after
letting Rizzolo's crew get away with murder
and mayhem for so many years -- the family of beating victim Kirk
Henry may end up receiving the bulk of the $40 million buy out
money, along with Rizzolo's out of state criminal defense attorneys,
while Rick dreams of what could have been from a prison cell, and his
local lawyer Sgro languishes over losing his best client and a constant
pool of prospective clients.
But that may interfere with a possible grand scheme to appease the mob:
To replace Rizzolo with a "Mr. Clean Face" acceptable to Oscar Goodman
and his obedient council, something Brugnara with his big mouth doesn't
appear qualified to do.
And that brings up this bit of wild speculation. For years, untalented local
attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro have been milking Rizzolo for legal
fees. Most of their legal actions have failed including trying to evict
next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier who has a racketeering law suit
against Rizzolo; trying to gag
Steve Miller; and losing numerous Small
Claims Court cases, but their main client continues to believe
in them, and pay their outrageous fees maybe because they've
demonstrated that they have at least one local judge
in their pocket, and close ties to the mayor.
DEAN PATTI, left, attorney for
the Crazy Horse Too, questions
the language in a section of a proposed stripper regulation
during a City Council Recommending Committee meeting.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, right, said the regulations
(to prohibit 18 year olds from stripping) were unnecessary. STEVE
MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN
Could Sgro be acting independently -- trying to kill the sale in order
to preserve his goose that lays golden eggs? If the bar is sold, I'm
sure the buyer will have better taste in lawyers, and he knows it. Or
is he following orders from the mob who don't want Brugnara anywhere
near their Vegas playpen?
celebrations may be short lived. His business is described as a
"racketeering 'enterprise' as defined under federal
in a Department of Justice news
release. When the Feds use such
harsh words, indictments and possible forfeitures are close behind.
Now thanks to Luke Brugnara, if the sale goes through, the Feds, Kirk
Henry, and Barrier won't have to liquidate Rick Rizzolo's assets. They
can just put liens on his property and seize the cash when it goes into
escrow. That way, Brugnara would still get the Vegas Crazy Horse no
matter who gets the money.
Maybe that's why Sgro is trying so hard to squelch the deal?
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