INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 6, 2003
The New Vegas Mob?
and Oscar Goodman
Oscar Goodman and Mike McDonald
"The Old Mob stole from the feds mostly by skimming and evading taxes.
The New Mob steals from the local and state population by controlling all
three branches of government at all levels by the force of greed and cowardice."
- Former Deputy Nevada Attorney General Chuck
While the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Resort Association
preach that the Mob is long-gone from the Vegas scene, a new version is
emerging that is making the mobsters of old spin in their graves.
Some base their operations in Newport Beach, California and allegedly
control their Nevada holdings from booths in a Vegas owned eatery in the
Fashion Island shopping center. The transplanted Vegans feel safe in their
nooks, but their conversations are often overheard. The Vegas expatriate's
crimes of choice? Money laundering, extortion, coercion, robbery, battery,
credit card fraud, dope
sales and prostitution, - crimes that the Old Mob scorned.
On December 26, 2002, MSNBC TV
aired an extraordinary exposé about a mobbed-up Las Vegas topless
bar called the Crazy Horse Too. In the report, former Mob lawyer turned
Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was shown sitting next to his notorious former
client Joey Cusumano, a close associate of the bar's owner Frederick
"Rick" Rizzolo. The question was then asked, "if Rizzolo’s political
connections tend to keep government officials from looking too closely
at the club's liquor
license?" A logical question since the Crazy Horse has the dubious
distinction of having received the most police calls of any business currently
operating in Sin City that has not had its liquor license revoked.
Cusumano is the "best friend in the world" and former "facilitator"
of Rizzolo, a man that Goodman has been accused of doing favors
since his mayoral election in 1999. Questions have been raised asking whether
Goodman is turning his back on Crazy Horse problems to please his former
organized crime associated client? Cusumano is also a member of Nevada’s
infamous Black Book
of persons excluded from entering casinos, and a former lieutenant of the
late Chicago Mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro, another of Goodman's notorious
clients. Strange bedfellows for the mayor of a major American city, a mayor
said he'd rather have his daughter date Spilotro than an FBI agent,
a statement he has yet to live down.
Tom Letizia is the son-in-law of Freddie Glusman, a Las Vegan who owns
a restaurant in Newport Beach. Glusman is another of Rizzolo's close friends.
Letizia, a familiar face at City Hall, is Goodman's political campaign
manager and kitchen cabinet member. He is also Rizzolo's advertising and
PR director. City Hall observers question whether Letizia is serving two
masters based on the Mayor's purported ignorance of problems at Rizzolo's
For example, Goodman seems unconcerned that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police
reported 737 responses to the Crazy Horse in the past 3 years - a number
dozens of times that of any other adult business in the city. Nor does
Goodman raise an eyebrow to Rizzolo employing Black Book members in key
positions in his club. The Mayor's could-care-less attitude toward a business
in his city that employs numerous men with Mob
ties surprises few based on his past profession as a criminal defense
lawyer. However, Goodman’s nonchalance toward the documented 737 police
responses does surprise his followers.
Incidentally, Goodman, who is guaranteed reelection this spring, is
planning to go back to practicing
law part time after the election. Goodman says he wants to mentor his
son who just graduated law school. Speculation runs wild that one of his
law firm's first clients may be Mr. Rizzolo who faces a federal grand jury
probe and numerous civil lawsuits for reportedly allowing a "pattern of
violence" at his place of business.
Rizzolo’s bar has been the scene of numerous reported robberies, beatings,
and a possible murder along with having that astounding 737 mostly ignored
police responses in such a short period. But with few if any arrests and
no interest shown in license revocation by the city, DA, or Metro, many
are naturally asking why Vegas officials have turned their backs, especially
at a time when the town is claiming to have cleaned up its act? Meanwhile,
local and national TV news of violent events continue. The
most recent story aired on New Year's Eve and described two incidents
where Metro refused to take criminal assault complaints against club bouncers.
The most publicized Crazy Horse carnage involved Kansas tourist Kirk
Henry who sued Rizzolo for allegedly letting club bouncers break his
neck rendering him a quadriplegic. Another lawsuit to go to trial on January
7, 2003 involves the 1995 death of Scott
David Fau who witnesses say was beaten by club employees and left to
die on railroad tracks behind the bar. These two lawsuits, the federal
criminal investigation, and the possible involvement of a Las Vegas City
Councilman and Mayor in a cover up, guarantee to make the Crazy Horse one
of the top national Vegas crime stories of the New Year - the kind of thing
the Chamber of Commerce and Resort Association dreads.
Last Thursday after showing two TV news reports on violence and mob
connections at the Crazy Horse Too, an amazed Jerry Nachman, Editor-in-Chief
of MSNBC TV, asked his guest, KVBC TV investigative reporter Glen Meek,
why no one has been arrested?
“Well, I’m still confused. If I-if somebody punched me in the nose standing
on Wayne Newton Boulevard and I called the metro police and swore out an
assault complaint, they’d lock that person up,” said Nachman.
Meek responded, “You would think. There’s some interesting things that
have occurred both in this case and some other cases that we’re looking
at. We know, for example, there’s another lawsuit filed against the club
alleging that there was brutality by the bouncers, and some of the people
who were in that party actually had one of those digital cameras. They
took photographs of police on the scene, and, when we went back to try
and find a police report, there was none...and, apparently, the police
are telling some of these people, hey, you're drunk, you know, do you really
want to get into this, are you going to come back and testify, why don't
you just go home and forget about it,” stated Meek.
On September 19, 2002, former Clark County District
Attorney Stewart Bell may have given an inadvertent answer to Nachman's
question about the lack of arrests. The outgoing DA told a TV audience
that there is "probable cause" to proceed with prosecution on at least
two of the Crazy Horse cases. He then said he wanted his successor David
Roger to wait until after the civil trials end to start any possible
prosecutions. When asked why no one had been prosecuted up until then for
Fau's and Henry's alleged beatings, Bell responded that his office was
too busy with other cases.
The problem with newly elected DA David Roger is that he received over
$50,000 in campaign contributions from Rizzolo and his friends. After I
wrote about his windfall, Roger purportedly returned the money. Many now
wonder if Roger can in clear conscience prosecute employees of his once-biggest
Also, in 1998, Las Vegas Councilman Mike McDonald, a former cop, was
of doing favors for Rizzolo. Metro Internal Affairs received an anonymous
letter stating, "For obvious favors received from Rizzolo, McDonald has
his fellow officers target Little Darlings, Club Exotica. McDonald is always
at the Crazy Horse on Industrial Road with Rizzolo. He is able to entertain
his fellow officers who target the other strip joints." In the wake of
the letter, McDonald suddenly resigned from Metro.
The letter was unsubstantiated but raised speculation that some Metro
officers were "compromised" and were protecting the club in exchange for
free "services" while on and off duty. The speculation continues to this
MSNBC also revealed Rizzolo's extreme sensitivity about his relationship
with Cusumano, a relationship that could possibly lead directly to Goodman
and McDonald. MSNBC played an excerpt from a recent video deposition of
Rizzolo. Donald Campbell, attorney for Kirk Henry asked, "Do you know Joseph
Cusumano?" Rizzolo's attorney responded for his client, "He's not answering
based on counsel." Campbell than asked, "You're refusing to answer the
question?" Rizzolo answered, "Yes."
Goodman remains stubbornly mute when critics continue complaining that
the violence and crime at the Crazy Horse is spilling over into the adjoining
low income neighborhood known as Meadows Village. Nearby apartment house
Christoff in 1999 filed a lawsuit
against the City of Las Vegas to try to get some police attention to help
clean up his neighborhood to only have the suit tossed out of court because
his attorney was late submitting a brief.
Christoff said that no one at City
Hall would listen then when he and his neighbors complained of bar patrons
using his neighborhood as a drug supermarket, and he says no one is listening
now. Christoff stated that the problems started in 1999 when the city allowed
Rizzolo to expand his club without required permits or increased parking
Rizzolo expanded his bar by 6,000 square feet. When neighbors complained
of inadequate parking and increased crime, Rizzolo reluctantly applied
for permits for the already
opened addition. The city dutifully gave him the permits and Certificate
of Occupancy after the fact without requiring mandatory traffic or parking
studies. They did this all knowing the addition had already opened to the
public – a feat that took extraordinary juice!
After the expansion opened, Councilman Mike McDonald’s aide, Doug Rankin,
walked Rizzolo’s people through City Hall departments and sat with them
at a Board of Zoning Adjustment meeting to obviously fast track the belated
permits. At one point, Rizzolo’s attorneys presented the city with a lease
for an adjacent overflow parking lot. It was later discovered that the
property owner allegedly knew nothing of the lease and subsequently erected
concrete barriers to keep Crazy Horse patrons off his property. The city,
after being informed of the apparently bogus lease, failed to take action.
Councilman McDonald, the representative of the ward in which the Crazy
Horse is located, refuses to vote on matters affecting the club saying
he has a conflict of interest based on him using the same law
firm Rizzolo uses. However, no ethics
law in the state of Nevada backs up his conflict claim and many believe
that he subversively influences the city's actions that affect Rizzolo.
Up until 2000, McDonald lived rent-free in a half-million dollar golf course
owned by the family of Cusumano. When I wrote a story about his digs, he
immediately moved out. Like Rizzolo, McDonald refuses to discuss the Cusumano
Oscar Goodman has been asked on several occasions to bring the Crazy
Horse before his council to show
cause why the bar deserves to keep its liquor license after police
records reveal nine assault and six robbery cases involving Crazy Horse
employees over a two-year period, along with the 737 police responses.
In answer to my inquiry why the bar license has never been challenged
by the City Council, the Mayor tersely stated, “I’m not doing Joey Cusumano
any favors” though I did not bring up Mr. Cusumano’s name at any time during
the conversation. That was in October 2001. Since then, the mayor sponsored
to let the club expand - again - while he remains mum on the subject of
numerous customers allegedly being beaten or threatened when they object
to their tabs, and the club's propensity to hire men with Mob ties.
In the meantime, when recently asked about Cusumano, Rizzolo
said "That guy's my best friend in the world, but it's not like Joey
Cusumano and I hang out together anymore.... I don't want to jeopardize
my licenses." (Hello!)
Now that the Crazy Horse story is national news, maybe next time they
should show a little footage from the movie "Casino" where Goodman plays
himself. Art imitating life-imitating art? Only in Vegas.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com