Rizzolo sues police
and the FBI
7 weeks after the Sheriff referred to him as a "person
of ill repute,"
Rick Rizzolo sues the Police Department. Is this a legitimate
a quid pro quo, a get-rich-quick scheme for his lawyer,
or is the
best defense a good offense?
He violated department policies prohibiting officers from accepting
gifts from suspects and consorting with persons of ill repute.
County Sheriff Bill Young on a police officer taking money from Rizzolo
- August 6, 2003
Sheriff Young (Las
The suit seeks punitive damages from Metro... in excess of $10,000
for the invasion of Rizzolo's privacy as well as his emotional distress,
humiliation, legal fees and loss of business profits and reputation. --
Vegas Sun, October 1, 2003
Frederick Rizzolo (Las Vegas
I won't allow you to get through the back door what you can't
get through the front door in this proceeding, -- U.S.
Magistrate Peggy Leen to attorney Tony Sgro after refusing to unseal
Though he's wealthy and has friends in high places -- and a battery
of lawyers in his corner -- Rizzolo is in the unenviable position of having
to take on the unlimited resources of the FBI and the Justice Department.
Once they consider you a bad guy, these agencies keep coming at you.
Vegas SUN, March 7, 2003
We have now a solid basis to prove that we suffered financially
as a result of the high-profile nature of the raid, -- attorney
Tony Sgro on lawsuit against FBI, Las
Vegas Review Journal, March 7, 2003
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 6, 2003
Business must be slow around this time of the year for Sin City lawyer
Tony Sgro. Even after losing several cases for his biggest client, Crazy
Horse topless bar owner Frederick
"Rick" Rizzolo, Mr. Sgro still found yet another cause with which to
charge Rizzolo legal fees. Now he is suing
the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
For several years the federal government has been looking into the alleged
mob associations of Rizzolo. They are reportedly seeking information as
to whether he pays tribute to Chicago organized crime through a cadre
of friends and club employees, some with possible ties to Las Vegas
City Hall and the Nevada state Department of Transportation.
Rocco and Joey Lombardo
Goodman and Crazy Horse PR man
Tom Letizia Sgro with Vinnie Faraci & Bart
Tony Sgro's record of success in court is a checkered one. On Nov. 13,
2001, he failed in an attempt to secure a Gag
Order against this writer to stop me from reporting violent events
at the Crazy Horse. But that was not the first time Mr. Sgro failed to
please his boss and lost face in the process.
For more than four years Sgro has been trying to evict
Rizzolo's next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier so the topless bar could
expand. On May 1, 2002, Rizzolo, allegedly on Sgro's advice, went so far
as to purchase the 2.63-acre shopping center where his bar is located for
$5.5 million thinking that by doing so he could break Barrier's lease.
Clearly bad advice since in his purchase
agreement Rizzolo initialed a page that stated he would honor existing
leases including Barrier's.
On the two occasions when Sgro petitioned the
court to break Barrier's long term lease, the court sided with Barrier.
The first time was in May 2000, when Barrier's former landlady as an obvious
favor to Rizzolo attempted to remove the garage owner to provide space
for the topless bar's expansion. On April 3, 2001, Judge Nancy Oesterle
dismissed the eviction.
Then on August 27, 2002, after his client bought
the property at a highly inflated price, Sgro filed eviction
notices ordering Allstate Auto and the BWF Wrestling School, businesses
that flank the bar, out in thirty days.
Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas immediately responded
with a request for a hearing in Justice Court. The judge stayed Rizzolo's
evictions and let Barrier's businesses remain until the end of their leases.
When questioned about the failed evictions, Rizzolo
a reporter that a street-widening project scheduled within the next
few years will force Barrier out through eminent
domain at taxpayer's expense. However, Rizzolo failed to mention that
others including a relative of his PR man, and the former attorney of Black
Book member Joey Cusumano, may play big parts if eminent domain is
Sources close to the investigation say that federal
authorities are paying particularly close attention to long-term relationships
between Rizzolo, Rizzolo's PR man Tom Letizia, current Las Vegas Mayor
Oscar Goodman who was Cusumano's former criminal defense attorney, and
Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn. In order for an eminent domain taking to occur,
it would take behind the scenes help from City Hall and the Governor's
Mansion. Goodman has a soft
spot for Cusumano who is suspected of having hidden ownership in the
Crazy Horse, while the governor sees nothing wrong with embracing
Rizzolo and his campaign contributions.
Furthermore, Letizia doubles as Goodman's campaign
manager and chief fund raiser, and Letizia has a relative in a key position
within the Nevada Department of Transportation, the agency that would be
asked to condemn Barrier's business.
Since these connections were revealed in INSIDE
VEGAS, and following the local
raids of the Crazy Horse, the expansion has mysteriously been placed on
the back burner.
The artist's rendering of the expansion has also
been removed from the "Coming Soon" page of the Crazy Horse website and
replaced with a question
In the meantime, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Barrier thinks his business looks just fine as the centerpiece in the entrance
to the Crazy Horse Too. Barrier also says all the publicity generated by
the feud has been good for his garage business. Rizzolo thinks otherwise
and has grandiose plans for a new freestanding building. The only catch?
Barrier's long term lease.
Jim Barrier in front of business blocking topless bar expansion (Las
Vegas Review Journal)
Rendering of new building (removed from Crazy Horse website)
Even though competition
is going up all around his bar, Rizzolo has steadfastly refused to negotiate
a buyout of Barrier's lease. In the meantime, three new mega-gentlemen's
clubs have opened nearby making the Crazy Horse look like an old nag in
comparison, and another 25,000 square foot club just broke ground not far
It has been speculated that ego is keeping Rizzolo from negotiating
with Barrier, and now that his business is declining,
Messrs. Sgro and Rizzolo blame the police department and the FBI for their
Sgro is asking a federal judge to hold two FBI
agents in contempt
for seizing documents that he said are protected by attorney/client privilege.
He is also seeking punitive
damages from at least eight Metro Police officers, and is suing Barrier
for defamation of character - while billing Rizzolo by the hour for his
Sgro complains that police officers omitted mentioning in their search
warrant the statement of a cab driver who alleges the injury that rendered
Kansas tourist Kirk
Henry a quadriplegic was self inflicted. The driver who was purportedly
at the scene of the alleged beating reported that he had witnessed Henry
fall to the ground thereby breaking his own neck. Other witnesses
dispute his account including three other cabdrivers at the scene who stated
that they saw the club's manager hit Henry and fall to the ground struggling
The cab driver in question was later identified by other drivers as
having regularly accepted favors from Rizzolo; favors such as being allowed
to pull ahead in the queue, and being the only driver summoned to take
drunks home at the club's expense.
The truth will come out at trial in February 2004, that's if Sgro's
latest legal maneuver does not throw a monkey wrench in the works and cause
a further delay. This is not the first time Sgro has attempted to delay
On March 3, 2003, Clark County District Court Judge
Jackie Glass denied a Motion to stay progress in Henry's attempted
murder trial. Rizzolos attorney unsuccessfully argued that because there
is an on-going federal criminal investigation of his client, and that he
cannot get documents from the Police Department to prepare his defense,
the court should temporarily stop the proceedings. Judge Glass disagreed
and soundly denied the politically
influential bar owner's motion to stay, promptly scheduling a jury
trial saying, "This trial will be number one on the stack!"
Some speculate that Sgro is again trying to delay the trial by filing
the suit against the police so near the trial date. We'll just have to
wait and see.
Then there is the harassment
suit Barrier filed against Rizzolo on June 19, 2002. Sgro made a motion
to dismiss the suit, but on August 6, 2002, Clark County District Court
Judge Lee Gates denied his motion.
Barrier enjoys paying his new landlord only thirty-three cents per square
foot for his 8,000 foot garage, and his lease is legally solid until 2011.
such cheap rent, I can put up with his nonsense for the next eight years
until my lease expires," stated Barrier who was given a sweetheart
deal by his previous landlord.
With federal indictments expected in the near future, its starting to
look questionable as to whom Barrier will be paying rent to for the majority
of his remaining lease. In the meantime, Tony Sgro continues to "make hay
while the sun shines" at his client's expense.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com