Vegas Mayor suspected of doing
favors for alleged mob associate
Is city harassing competition as possible favor to friend
of Oscar Goodman?
Or could it be a "Good cop/Bad cop" shakedown?
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
November 3, 2003
Alleged mob associate's dilapidated topless bar
Thirty-five million dollar competition just across the tracks
LAS VEGAS - In 2000, Crazy Horse Too topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo
failed in several reported attempts to kill the zoning and business licensing
of a proposed thirty-five million dollar competitor. Despite efforts to
stop the project, the new club, Treasures, opened last summer within walking
distance of his aging strip joint located in a converted warehouse just
across the tracks from the new venue.
First, Rizzolo was accused of enlisting the help of a city councilman
to remeasure the distance between the proposed competition and a nearby
elementary school. The first measurement showed the project would fall
a few feet outside the required 1,000 foot radius from the school and therefore
be legal. However, if the proposed bar could be found to be within 1,000
feet of the school, the project would not receive zoning approval. The
obedient councilman immediately went to work. Over a weekend, the councilman
sent city employees working overtime to remeasure the distance. But the
distance measurements remained unchanged and the councilman got
by the city ethics board for doing an obvious favor at taxpayer's expense.
Then Rizzolo's sister Annette, the minister of the Universal Church
for Life Enhancement, was accused of setting up a storefront church
across the street from the proposed bar to kill its liquor license application.
The scheme was exposed
and she suddenly closed the "church."
Begrudgingly, the city council approved Treasure's zoning and liquor
license on February 21, 2001 with the Mayor issuing an unprecedented warning.
If there is a single arrest and conviction for sexually oriented activities
such as prostitution, the city will shut down the club.
Strangely, Goodman's admonition flies in the face of him last week suggesting
the legalization of brothels as a redevelopment
tool for downtown Las Vegas, an unpopular
idea that brought him wide spread criticism.
Las Vegas Review Journal cartoon by Jim Day, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
As a former member of the Las Vegas City Council, I'm quite familiar
with the process used by the city to revoke privileged business licenses.
I'm also familiar with ways the city can harass a business such as denying
it an off-premise sign permit. But what concerns me most is that the whole
process could be used as a giant shakedown to inspire huge payoffs to politicians.
Say a controversial application lies too close to a school or church,
or threaten to deny an off-premise sign, or place restrictive unprecedented
warnings on the applicant that include the threat of business license revocation,
then have a well connected attorney visit the applicant and promise to
make the problems go away - for a price. The potential for hundreds of
thousands of dollars cash to suddenly change hands in this "good cop/bad
cop" scenario becomes apparent. Not that this happened in this case however
- especially not in Sin City!
Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages hold privileged licenses.
If a privileged licensed business suffers several incidents requiring police
attention, an inspector from the city business license department may be
asked by the Mayor to visit the offending business to issue a warning.
If the horrible
problems persist, the owner (if unprotected) can be brought
before the city council on a "Show Cause" action to defend his/her license.
The public hearing usually features representatives from the police department
to outline the infractions.
Both the Crazy Horse Too and Treasures should abide by the same set
of standards. But that doesn't appear to be the case thanks to Oscar Goodman.
On Oct. 19, basketball player Dennis Rodman in what may have been a
publicity stunt crashed
a motorcycle in Treasure's parking lot. The police were summoned but reportedly
were denied entrance to the club. Several days later, city business license
director Jim DiFiore made an unannounced visit to the club. DiFiore was
there to read the Riot Act to management, most likely at the behest of
Goodman. When the story
hit the papers, the Mayor's threat at the February 2001 liquor license
hearing immediately came to mind.
On the morning of October 29, 2003, a shooting
occurred at the Crazy Horse Too. Witnesses told investigators that both
the shooter and the victim had argued in the club and the argument progressed
into the parking lot where three shots were fired.
One of the more interesting oddities following the shooting was the
person chosen to speak to the press on behalf of the management - none
other than shift manager Vinnie Faraci, son of reputed Bonanno crime family
soldier Johnnie Green Faraci of New York. Vinnie, reportedly a "made man,"
was arrested and convicted of insurance fraud while he was working at the
Crazy Horse Too, but though he speaks for the club, Faraci has never been
brought before the city council for key employee licensing, something required
of all key employees in other (less politically influential) privileged
license holding businesses.
Lawyer Tony Sgro, Vinnie Faraci, Bart Rizzolo
in front of bar during FBI raid
to streaming video of Rizzolo's deposition where he talks about his crew
The latest shooting was just one of many violent events recorded
at Rizzolo's topless bar in recent years, but there has never been the
slightest interest shown by the city business license department, or the
Mayor in regard to the backgrounds of employees working there in key positions.
Mr. Rizzolo shares many close friends and business associates with Mayor
Goodman including the Mayor's political campaign fundraiser,
and several of Goodman's former criminal law practice clients.
Unexplainably, Mr. DiFiore has never been dispatched to the Crazy Horse
in the past in spite of an alleged beating death,
dozens of alleged credit card frauds,
and numerous reported batteries
including that of a Kansas tourist who became a quadriplegic after disputing
his bar tab. DiFiore was nowhere to be seen even after the Sheriff recently
to Rizzolo as a "person of ill repute." But, DiFiore was right there when
Rizzolo's main competitor had a problem!
Are there double standards in Sin City?
On November 21, 2002, following the beating of the Kansas tourist, I
asked Mayor Goodman to bring the Crazy Horse up on a "Show Cause" administrative
action. Goodman (obediently?)
and the violence continued.
I requested the action be taken after the Crazy Horse received a total
of 737 police
calls in a three-year-period including 9 assaults and 6 robberies involving
bar employees - far more than any other privileged license holding business
in the city. Mayor Goodman did nothing other than visit my home to personally
state that he wouldn't interfere while a federal investigation
was underway. In hindsight, he must now realize that had he interfered,
the October 29 shooting may not have occurred.
Goodman and Miller meet in street
in front of writer's home
Keep in mind that prior to becoming Sin City's Mayor, Oscar Goodman
was a poor shyster lawyer working out of a cheap downtown storefront -
that's until he made a personal fortune defending several of Mr. Rizzolo's
including Nevada Black
Book member Joey Cusumano. Cusumano is long suspected of having hidden
ownership in the Crazy Horse. He is also known as the man who brought Goodman
the clientele that made him a rich man and a pillar of Vegas society.
Goodman and Spilotro
Rizzolo's lawyer Dean Patti and Goodman speak
in support of ordinance
to expand Crazy Horse
Could there be a quid pro quo?
Goodman may also be asked to use the city's power of eminent domain
to remove a business owned by Buffalo Jim Barrier to make way for a new
Crazy Horse. Barrier's auto garage has an iron-clad lease at a ridiculously
low thirty-three cents per square foot that remains in effect until 2010.
Rick Rizzolo inherited the lease when
he purchased the property in 2001 under the false impression he could evict
his next door neighbor-cum-tenant. After Barrier hired the state's foremost
eminent domain law
firm, Rizzolo learned it would take extreme political clout to remove
Barrier in order to expand to better compete with Treasures.
In the past, Rizzolo bragged
of having the necessary political clout, however that was prior to him
becoming a target
in a federal organized crime probe. Now, few politicians or judges acknowledge
knowing him including the former
councilman who did Rizzolo favors but was defeated when the word got
out in political mailers. Several local
politicians may even face federal indictments
for their involvement.
Buffalo Jim Barrier
Coincidentally, Oscar Goodman's campaign manager
and fundraiser Tom Letizia doubles as Rizzolo's PR
man. Another coincidence is that Tom's cousin Tony Letizia is the Nevada
Department of Transportation's (NDOT) program development manager
in Southern Nevada; another agency that will need to cooperate if attempts
are made to remove Barrier by eminent domain to make way for Rizzolo's
The battle lines are drawn, and the taxpayers will bear the cost if Rizzolo
dream project currently on hold
As an obvious favor to Rizzolo, Goodman in 2002 sponsored and passed
a custom designed ordinance
to make the expansion possible. For the eminent domain and expansion to
happen, Rizzolo needs to stay out of prison. He has reportedly asked Goodman
to come out of retirement and defend him in the probability that he's indicted.
Meanwhile, the city denied Treasures an off-premise sign permit making
the business almost impossible to find. The city limited them to renting
a portion of an industrial park reader board located at the club's main
entrance on Highland Drive.
Only sign allowed at main entrance to new club
Now that attention has been brought to possible political favors being
granted, or shakedowns occurring - attention that includes the watchful
eye of the feds - it will be interesting to see if Mr. DiFiore is dispatched
to the Crazy Horse after last week's shooting, or if Oscar and NDOT get
together to help Rizzolo expand his topless bar, or whether Treasures can
build a decent sign. You can bet that movement in any of these areas will
not go unnoticed. But of greater interest is seeing who will come forward
to testify that they were coerced by a well conected local attorney into
bribing public officials to get what was rightfully theirs.
Until then, I hold Oscar Goodman personally responsible for the next
victim of violence at his friend's place of business. If he does not act
soon, the Crazy Horse and its attendant violence will become his greatest
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com