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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:

Rizzolos defy Federal Court with impunity

Crime family attempts to quash depositions and hide
business partner's names. Two Federal Judges
may be trying to avoid embarrassing a
fellow judge. And Dominic Rizzolo
now works for a time share
company in Florida.

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 2, 2009

LAS VEGAS - In the preceding INSIDE VEGAS, I wrote that convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo and his ex-wife Lisa were refusing to disclose subpoenaed financial information in Henry et al vs. Rizzolo et al., unless unpaid beating victim Kirk Henry agreed to keep the names of Mr. and Mrs. Rizzolo's business partners confidential (see below).
Case 2:08-cv-00635-PMP-GWF Document 60 Filed 01/15/2009 Page 7 of 10

At present, the only information which has not been disclosed, is that which Ms. Rizzolo is concerned is subject to privacy issues which she does not have the authority to ignore because they involve the financial information of Rick Rizzolo which he himself refused to disclose to Plaintiff or third parties unrelated to this action. That information includes potential insurance beneficiary information (Request to Produce No. 11), 2 joint trust agreements and individual trust agreements involving other individuals (Request to Produce Nos. 13 & 16). 

Such a blatant refusal should have triggered a harsh response from the court, but it didn't. So on January 27, Kirk Henry's legal team acquiesced and filed a Stipulation and Protective Order agreeing to keep confidential the information Rizzolo had previously refused to disclose including the names of  "other individuals" -- persons who may be well known in Las Vegas, Carson City, Newport Beach, Washington D.C., Miami, New York, or Chicago.

Though it would have been fascinating to know just who the Rizzzolo's seek to protect and why, it's fully understandable that Kirk Henry's priority is to get paid the $9 million he's been owed since his neck was broken by one of the Rizzolo's Crazy Horse Too topless bar bouncers back in September 2001. For the past eight years, Henry's beating-related quadriplegia has confined him to a wheelchair, kept him from working, and cost his family hundreds of thousands in medical expenses.

But confidentiality was not all the Rizzolo's were demanding.

On Thursday, January 29, an Emergency Motion was filed in United States Federal Court moving to severely restrict the questions Kirk Henry's attorneys can ask Rizzolo's personal attorney Tony Sgro (left) in an upcoming Deposition.

This came two days after Rick and Lisa Rizzolo filed a Motion to quash the subpoena of their 26 year old convicted felon son Dominic (see Declaration below).

Federal Magistrate Judge George W. Foley Jr. has scheduled dual hearings for Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 10:30 AM, to rule on the Protective Order Motion for Sgro, and the Quash Motion for Dominic.

Henry's attorneys have for more than two years been attempting to locate the whereabouts of millions of dollars in assets the Rizzolos hid three weeks before Rick began his 2005 plea bargaining. So far, Henry's attorneys have received little or no help from the courts.

Mr. and Mrs. Rizzolo hid their assets with the help of the brother of a federal court judge, the same judge who was concurrently presiding over the trials of 15 men once employed by the couple. More on this later.

There is also speculation that Sgro's law firm received legal fees in undeclared cash, and that Rick is stashing cash in Strip hotel casino cages, and off shore. Therefore, depositions are expected to contain detailed inquiries as to precisely where the Rizzolo's assets are hidden? Several states and off shore nations have become depositories for the ill-gotten assets of persons who have committed crimes.

Florida is well known for being a safe haven for hiding assets as was exemplified by O. J. Simpson when the Goldman family unsuccessfully attempted to collect their $33.5 million dollar civil court judgment. Florida has also been known for the state's high pressure time share vacation sales tactics.

In the past, some naive married couples referred to as "units" in the trade, have been enticed by direct mail scams to travel free of charge to Florida and other tropical locales to supposedly have a relaxing vacation. Most of the illicit time share operators targeted the elderly. What was supposed to be a good time soon turned into a nightmare according to victims. Such experiences have given the time share industry a black eye though many time share companies are legitimate and have satisfied customers.

When the targeted couple arrived at their destination, many reported being taken directly from the airport to a conference hall where they were locked in and forced to sit for hours with someone referred to as an "investment counselor." Then they reported being subjected to a high pressure sales pitch to buy a time share vacation package.

If they did not immediately agree to purchase the product being offered, many "units" reported that their "investment counselor" changed mood and began using carefully orchestrated intimidation tactics to force them into signing a check or credit card slip before they were allowed to leave the meeting hall and go to their hotel room.

Most of the worst case offenders have been shut down, but several still remain in operation according to sources.

Dominic Rizzolo recently moved to Florida. It's not known if Rizzolo has acquired any real property since moving there, and if so, who paid for it? But it is known that Dominic has for eight months been employed by Paramount Hospitality, a time share and resort company founded by Marco A. Manzie.

It would be interesting to know if Rizzolo's employer is aware his "Front Office Manager for the Floridays Resort" was convicted on January 12, 2009 of Felony Battery With a Deadly Weapon, and is serving a 24 month suspended sentence and 5 years probation for stabbing a man in the upper abdomen with a six inch switch blade knife during a January 21, 2008 extortion attempt? The victim almost died from his injuries.

As part of his extraordinary sentence, Dominic Rizzolo was ordered to take an anger management course. Despite the anger management course, Dominic's criminal history should be considered before he's allowed to continue having direct contact with the public, especially if they're disgruntled time share buyers.

Manzie is the fifty-year-old president of Vacation Break Management, a subsidiary of a publicly traded company called Vacation Break USA (NASDAQ:VBRK). In 1997, the attorney generals of 11 states filed actions against the company relating to certain of its methods of marketing its time share vacation packages. The actions sought damages and injunctive relief in connection with alleged deceptive practices. The Federal Trade Commission named Vacation Break in multiple lawsuits alleging travel package and timeshare fraud.

Complaints were filed after consumers responded to the company's direct mailer which contained a certificate of entitlement telling them to "pack their bags," or "you have been selected," implying the recipient had won a free vacation.

"These certificates were just a come-on to get the consumer to call," said Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Consumers were then pressured into buying vacation packages for over $400 that included undisclosed but required attendance at time share sales presentations during their 'vacations.' "

Under a settlement agreement, Vacation Break agreed to begin disclosing all costs and fees and tell the consumer they may be solicited for a sales presentation before they purchase a vacation. The company also agreed to pay restitution, penalties, and costs to consumers.

Based on the above, if Marco Manzie has personal knowledge that one of his employees was recently found guilty of a crime of violence, and that employee is still allowed to work in a managerial position dealing with vacationers at one of Manzie's Florida resorts, it may reignite the interest of the Federal Trade Commission. Dominic's current employment should also be of interest to his Florida probation officer.

In Dominic's case, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. His father pleaded guilty in 1985 to beating a man almost to death with a baseball bat. Like his son, he plea bargained and got off with a slap on the wrist with help from his family's political connections. The beating victim died of related injuries in 1989.

In his 2005 plea bargain, Rick Rizzolo agreed to pay Kirk Henry a total of $10 million dollars in exchange for reduced charges and a one year sentence. So far, Henry has not received one penny from the Rizzolo's personal fortune (though he received $1 million from the Crazy Horse Too's insurance policy). Meanwhile, the elder Rizzolo is observed on a nightly basis squandering large sums of cash in several Vegas casinos.

Rick Rizzolo is suspected of having hidden ownership in the Bada Bing Men's Club where he's regularly seen alongside his god son, the club's purported owner Rick Belcastro. As part of his most recent plea bargain, Rick Rizzolo agreed to never again be involved in the adult entertainment industry for the rest of his life. But eyewitnesses and club employees tell a different story.

Lisa Rizzolo has not yet been charged with any crime.

The following document was filed on May 16, 2008 in Federal Judge Philip Pro's court. It accuses unnamed local attorneys of acting in a conspiracy with the Rizzolos to hide assets that rightfully should be liquidated to pay creditors including Kirk Henry and the IRS, and help Rick Rizzolo fulfill his part of the 2005 plea bargain which included over $26 million in restitution.
Case 2:08-cv-00635-PMP-GWF Document 1 Filed 05/16/2008 Page 3 of 7

(Conspiracy to Defraud)
7. Beginning on or about May 24, 2005, the Defendants Rick and Lisa Rizzolo together, and with each other and with third persons acting in concert with them (believed to include attorneys and accountants whose names are not presently known but who will be added as parties once their identities are confirmed) did combine, conspire, confederate and agree together and with each other to defraud the Plaintiffs and each of them.

13. In an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, Rick Rizzolo and Lisa Rizzolo, together with third parties believed to include attorneys and accountants (whose names are not presently known but who will be added as parties once their identities are confirmed), formed a so-called “family trust” and thereafter transferred their assets into the same in an attempt to shield the assets available to compensate the Henrys for their catastrophic injuries.

In December, 2008, Judge Foley gave Rizzolo and his attorneys until Jan. 8, 2009 to produce financial documents including checks, billing invoices, payment records, engagement letters and transmittal sheets.

Rizzolo refused to comply with Judge Foley's Order. But even though his action was openly defiant of a federal judge, he and his attorneys were not sanctioned.

The attorneys who allegedly acted "in concert" to hide the Rizzolo's assets are presumed to be Tony Sgro of Patti & Sgro, and John Dawson of Lionel Sawyer & Collins -- Sgro for allegedly arranging a phony divorce, and Dawson for allegedly transferring assets into phony trusts.
Instrument: 20060829-06026 Book/Instr: 
Document Type: Trust Deed  Recorded: 08/29/2006 16:25:41 Pgs: 5 
ReRecorded: N Remarks: 
1st Party:   RIZZOLO, LISA M EE
Legal Description:  ParcelNum: 16305711072

Both lawyers should be very concerned -- especially Dawson -- now that the court is finally taking interest in the whereabouts of the Rizzolo's wealth, and who helped them conceal it.

But most troubling is that John Dawson is the brother of Federal Court Judge Kent Dawson who presided over the criminal trials of 15 men who committed serious crimes while employed by the Rizzolo's at the now defunct Crazy Horse Too. John Dawson's name has not yet been mentioned as an alleged co-conspirator, but I believe it's just a matter of time -- no matter who his brother is -- before the "asset protection" expert is also subpoenaed for deposition.

     The Dawson brothers - Federal Judge Kent, and Asset Protection Attorney John

The 15 Crazy Horse employee's trials in Kent Dawson's court all ended in questionably light sentences. But a greater concern is that Judge Dawson did not clearly disclose that his brother was the asset protection lawyer working for the Rizzolo family at the same time the 15 trials were taking place.

Because of his skill in protecting assets, in 2008, John Dawson was a featured speaker at the annual conference of the Southpac Offshore Planning Institute held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

According to a conference attendee, John Dawson neglected to tell the audience how he hid the Rizzolo's assets at the same time his brother was presiding over the trials of the couple's goon squad. But Dawson reportedly did a good job of analyzing the potential for attorney liability, a subject he was acutely aware of.

The motto of the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada - Las Vegas is: "The cornerstone of the American judicial system is the trial court in which witnesses testify, juries deliberate, and justice is done."

The motto notwithstanding, some courthouse observers are beginning to wonder if the current federal judges sitting on the Henry et al vs. Rizzolo et al. case may be going soft on the Rizzolos in order to avoid embarrassing a fellow judge for not clearly disclosing his brother's relationship to the former employer of 15 defendants that were handed light sentences in his court?

If Kirk Henry's effort to force full disclosure is giving Judges Pro and Foley pause, then Rick and Lisa Rizzolo should be given an award for hiring Tony Sgro and a federal judge's brother to cleverly hide their assets, and to possibly shield them from scrutiny in the local federal court system.

The never ending Henry et al vs. Rizzolo et al. case brings to question the veracity of the Federal Court's motto.

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