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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:

Goodman may be doing
Cusumano's bidding

Two separate topless bars, both under federal investigation. One is ignored after hundreds of violent episodes. The other -- guilty only of political corruption -- is repeatedly threatened with license revocation by the Mayor of Sin City. Why? --

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 16, 2004

On Friday, February 21, 2003, the day following an FBI raid of the Crazy Horse Too topless bar, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman came to my home to try to explain why he had not brought the mobbed-up bar before his council on a liquor license revocation action.

The Crazy Horse had been the scene of over 700 police responses in three years including 9 for assaults and 6 for robberies involving bar employees.

Goodman told me, "I cannot bring the Crazy Horse Too up on a Show Cause action during the federal investigation. I hope you understand."

In the meantime, the Crazy Horse's main competitor Cheetah's which is located a few blocks away, is also under federal investigation -- but not for alleged murder, credit card fraud, beatings, and coercion like the Crazy Horse -- but for the lesser crime of political corruption.

In contrast to the Crazy Horse, Cheetah's has no record of violence, though its owners, past and present, will certainly not qualify for sainthood.

Last month, Goodman spearheaded the handing out of a $1 million fine on Cheetah's, a fine based on one of its owners pleading guilty to a felony: bribing public officials.

Cheetah’s almost received Goodman’s full wrath that would have permanently shut their doors, but he reluctantly settled for the huge fine. However, another member of the city council wanted more. Newly elected Councilwoman Janet Moncrief wanted Cheetah’s shut down forever.

Jack Galardi, the principal owner of Cheetah’s went to court asking for a stay on the $1 million fine. The judge agreed, temporarily. Goodman and Moncrief were livid!

Following the ruling, Goodman announced he was bringing Jack Galardi back before the council on new charges. A second complaint was prepared, this time for what Goodman believes was an illegal transfer of ownership.

When Councilwoman Moncrief heard that Galardi was to return for more scrutiny, she said, "We should have revoked the license in the first place because Mr. Galardi decided he didn't want to pay $1 million, I'm happy we are going forward again."

While all this is happening, no mention is being made of the ongoing violence at the Crazy Horse just across the tracks.

The Crazy Horse and its owner, Rick Rizzolo, are scheduled to go to trial this fall over the beating of a patron. Kansas tourist Kirk Henry had his neck broken by bar bouncers in October 2001 over an $81 bar tab. He is now a quadriplegic.

Henry was not the first to be the victim of a beating at the Crazy Horse. Another man suffered an even worse fate after a beating by bar bouncers. His lifeless body was found near railroad tracks behind the bar.

Both beatings are currently being investigated by the FBI and a federal grand jury.

Nonetheless, neither Goodman nor Moncrief seen to care about the carnage at the Crazy Horse. They’re only paying attention to Jack Galardi and his son Mike’s confession to paying off a few crooked politicians. Why the myopia?

Back to Goodman’s excuse that he would not interfere with a federal investigation -- at least not in the case of the Crazy Horse. That was then. This is now. His zealousness to shut down the biggest competitor to the Crazy Horse -- a business that is also under federal investigation -- means that the initial excuse he gave to this writer back in February of last year was pure BS!

Mobster Joey Cusumano was one of former criminal defense attorney Oscar Goodman's biggest clients. Crazy Horse’s owner Rick Rizzolo has often professed that Joey is his "best friend in the world." Cusumano also retains a close relationship with Goodman and has been seen at social events held at the mayor’s home. Cusumano is listed in Nevada’s Black Book of persons excluded from entering casinos -- not exactly the type of person who should be seen chumming around with the mayor of a major American city!

It has long been suspected that Cusumano has hidden ownership in the Crazy Horse, a possibility that may be part of the federal investigation.

During the time Cusumano was a lieutenant to the late Chicago mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro, Cusumano directed most of Sin City’s lucrative mob clientele to Goodman’s law office. Goodman became a rich man based on keeping those clients out of jail. Many of those former clients are now employed at the Crazy Horse Too or have relatives working there.

Tom Letizia is Oscar Goodman’s campaign manager and political fundraiser. He also handles the advertising for the Crazy Horse, his biggest client. When he was not busy promoting Rizzolo’s bar, Letizia was busy raising $1.5 million for Goodman’s last political campaign.

Because of his affinity with Joey Cusumano and Tom Letizia, Las Vegans are beginning to wonder if Mayor Goodman is protecting the possible secret business interests of his former mob clients, some who are suspected of being silent partners in the Crazy Horse. This possible hidden allegiance could be the reason behind Goodman’s overzealous desire to shut down Cheetah‘s and leave the Horse alone.

Goodman has clearly shown a dual standard when it comes to the two bar owners, and for doing so, may himself have become a target in the federal investigation of Rick Rizzolo and his associates.

Janet Moncrief betrayed her campaign supporters by hiring Tom Letizia to organize a victory fund-raiser last year after first being elected. She did this after being strongly advised to avoid unsavory relationships.

I had been Ms. Moncrief’s political advisor during her successful campaign. Moncrief had never run for public office before, had never voted in her lifetime, had just moved into the city, and had a troublesome DUI on her record. She needed extraordinary help to get elected. I was enlisted.

For 4 months, I worked day and night on Moncrief’s campaign. We met almost daily, and talked on the phone dozens of times per day. You could imagine my dismay when I read the following quote in the June 19, 2003, Las Vegas SUN:

"I told her (Moncrief) early on that if Steve Miller is involved with this (political campaign) in any way, then I'm out. She assured me that Steve Miller was not involved during the campaign. She gave me the indication that she never has been involved at any time with him." -- Tom Letizia

Before Letizia secretly began assisting her, Moncrief promised me a position on her City Hall staff as Chief Ward Liaison. Having served a term as a Las Vegas City Councilman, I knew I was over qualified for the position, but the challenge and the opportunity to return to public service overwhelmed my desire to remain retired. I accepted her offer.

I felt I could teach her the ropes, and she could develop into the most effective member of the Vegas City Council with my help. I also often advised her to stay away from people like Rizzolo, Cusumano and Letizia.

Upon my advice, Moncrief agreed to base her campaign on the incumbent's ties to organized crime, specifically his ties to Rizzolo and Cusumano. However, she did not want her name mentioned in the negative mailers.

She asked if I could find a "stalking horse" candidate to mail her hit pieces under his name? Moncrief agreed to finance his campaign so she would not look like she was running negative.

Peter "Chris" Christoff agreed to run at her expense and to publish campaign materials telling the truth about her opponent. It worked. Moncrief was elected by a landslide.

During the campaign, seeing the effectiveness of factually exposing the connection between Rizzolo, Cusumano and the defeated councilman, Moncrief agreed that her first order of business would include bringing the long-ignored Crazy Horse before the council to defend its license. She said she felt her constituents mandated doing so based on their overwhelming support of the issues she raised.

Before the election, word leaked out about her plan to challenge the Crazy Horse liquor license. Letizia approached Moncrief and reportedly offered to raise $750,000 in the event she won. The only catch? She had to dump Steve Miller and her plan to bring the Crazy Horse before the council on a license revocation action.

She agreed, and my services were abruptly terminated the day after the election. Moncrief became Letizia’s lap dog. The Crazy Horse Too's main competitor became her prey.

Goodman had an ally in Moncrief when it came to closing Cheetah‘s and allegedly helping the Crazy Horse steal its clientele.

Goodman requested a second complaint be drafted. When considering the first complaint, the council had the option of revoking the club's liquor license, a move that most likely would have led to its closure, and decided against putting hundreds of people out of work just before the Holidays. This time, Goodman and Moncrief are on a mission to padlock Cheetah's doors.

Attorney Dominic Gentile, who represents Jack Galardi, called the move "vindictive." By "vindictive," he could have meant that the city needed to look across the tracks at the much more heinous crimes of his client’s competitor, a bar that has been allowed by the city to operate lawlessly while the city singled out his client for license revocation.

Kirk Henry's wife Amy, on December 26, 2002, told MSNBC News: "I can’t understand what kind of city or state would allow a place like this to remain in business."

To Goodman and Moncrief’s dismay, she was talking about the much-ignored Crazy Horse Too, not Cheetah’s.

If there was ever an example of blatant political favoritism hinging on political corruption -- the "vindictive" actions of Goodman and Moncrief toward Jack Galardi while they ignore the much more serious crimes at the Crazy Horse -- take the grand prize!

Oscar Goodman’s hollow words of February 2003: "I cannot bring the Crazy Horse Too up on a Show Cause action during the federal investigation. I hope you understand," followed soon thereafter by his taking action against another privileged licensed business that is included in the same federal investigation -- a business that if closed will benefit the Crazy Horse Too -- proves that he is unfit to serve in public office in any normal city.

But this is Sin City, so Oscar Goodman, Janet Moncrief and their mob cronies fit right in.

Copyright © Steve Miller

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