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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:

When will they ever learn?
After three judges issued orders to cease and desist, and after thousands of dollars in judgments and lawyer fees, Rick Rizzolo continues illegally towing his neighbor's customer's cars. And then there's the question of the stolen license plates?

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
February 27, 2005

LAS VEGAS -  For the past several years, executives at the Vegas Crazy Horse Too strip club have been illegally towing next door neighbor Buffalo Jim Barrier's customer's cars that were left overnight for servicing. In the past three months, despite three court orders and fourteen judgments in Barrier's favor, either Ralph Rizzolo or Al Rapuano have issued towing orders after Barrier closed his auto repair shop for the evening.

Plaintiff had three vehicles towed from the parking lot outside its business.  The custom and usage was to tag any vehicle not moved for three days before it could be towed. Defendant produced no evidence that the towed vehicles were tagged before they were towed. Plaintiff paid to have his customers vehicles returned. The defendant should not have towed these vehicles pursuant to the agreed upon custom and usage.
- Judge David Stoebling, Feb. 15, 2006

COURT ADVISED it will make an interpretation of the parking regulations, as follows: This is a long-term storage issue. Mr. Barrier may park a maximum of seven vehicles, which must be currently registered and licensed. A list of those vehicles is to be provided to Mr. Rizzolo in order that the independent security company can be notified. -- Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, Aug. 25, 2005

Its a car repair business, of course there will be cars parked there over night. They are not in and out in one day always. It would be nice if they were... I'm going to find for the plaintiff... Why don't you guys negotiate a parking agreement instead of trying to enforce one that is not enforceable, something that you both can agree to, and adhere to a certain portion of the parking lot that could be Mr. Barrier's. -- Judge Ann Zimmerman, May 17, 2004

February 24, 2006

I swear the following to be the truth. I work at Allstate Auto Repair at 2480 Industrial Road. On Monday 2/20/06, at about 6 PM, I was closing down the shop when I noticed Ralph Rizzolo walking around the cars we had parked outside. As I walked up to where he was, I saw him put a tow sticker on a customer's Ford pickup truck. I later saw he wrote "abandoned shit" on the sticker and that two other cars were stickered. The next day when I came to work I noticed the license plates were missing from these cars. On Thursday 2/23/06, at about 5:30 PM, I saw Ralph Rizzolo walking around our customer's cars again. This time to put tow notices on two cars and wrote on them that this was the "third notice" when this was the first time these cars were ever tagged.

      Al Rapuano                 Buffalo Jim Barrier                Ralph Rizzolo
Barrier, who has operated his business in the same location since 1976, sued Rapuano last year as an individual and won $762.55. He also sued Rick Rizzolo, Ralph's brother and the purported owner of the topless club who is now under federal investigation for racketeering, and won five more judgments each ranging in the hundreds of dollars. Instead of paying hundreds to reimburse towing fees, all small claims rulings were appealed and lost in higher courts costing Rizzolo tens of thousands in legal fees paid to his lawyers Dean Patti and Tony Sgro who continue taking his money while consistently losing in small claims court, and on appeal in Clark County District Court..

Now, with a number of unpaid judgments in hand, Barrier plans to garnishee Rapuano's Crazy Horse wages, and place a lien on Rick Rizzolo's Canyon Gate Country Club home.

In the most recent case, the license plates were allegedly removed from three tagged vehicles including the one with "abandoned shit" written on the yellow notice. Because of this, Barrier has had additional expense having to send employees to the DMV to obtain new plates for his customers.

(L to R)
Tony Sgro, Vinnie Faraci, Bart Rizzolo
(AmericanMafia photo by Mike Christ)

"At least they're finally hesitating when it comes to towing my customer's cars without first tagging them. Now they just say the car was left for days longer than it actually was, or that it didn't have license plates. This is so chicken shit. Haven't they got something better to do?" "I've never done anything to them," lamented Barrier.

Per court orders, vehicles cannot be parked outside Allstate Auto longer than three days and must be licensed. Downs' affidavit describes Ralph Rizzolo writing "third notice" on tags placed on cars left for their first night -- and then there's the question of the missing license plates?

Barrier states that he sends the Crazy Horse a fax each evening indicating what cars will remain in the parking lot overnight.

Because of the license plate thefts and other previous damage including slashed tires, Barrier said he has now installed hidden video cameras to document after hour activities in his parking area for further court action or possible criminal prosecution. License plate theft is a felony.

This is not the first time Barrier was forced to install surveillance devices.
                        Building shared by Crazy Horse and Allstate Auto

In the summer of 2004, after water lines feeding Barrier's evaporative coolers were cut for the second time on 115 degree days, he installed miniature video cameras on the roof of his leased space that he shares with Rizzolo's bar. When an INSIDE VEGAS column told of the cameras, the roof top vandalism suddenly stopped.
In June 2002, a harassment lawsuit was filed by Barrier against Rick Rizzolo who had just purchased the converted warehouse for $5.6 million so he could expand his club. Patti and Sgro had ill-advised their client that he could immediately remove Barrier from his leasehold if he bought the property. However, they had no idea that Barrier was in possession of a confidential agreement signed by Rizzolo saying he would honor all previous leases. When Patti and Sgro filed eviction papers, Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas went to court. When Flangas entered the confidential agreement into evidence, the eviction was immediately quashed. Rizzolo appealed and lost.

Barrier's lease, wherein he pays only forty-three cents per square foot, was ruled valid until August 2009 when its set to expire.

Then Rick Rizzolo called in favors from his former lawyer who is now our city's mayor. Soon, city parking enforcement scooters began patrolling the Crazy Horse/Allstate Auto property -- but ticketed only Allstate customers. Another series of INSIDE VEGAS articles were published, and the private property patrols and ticketing ceased.

According to Barrier, last Monday's "abandoned shit" tag will be entered into evidence at the upcoming harassment trial to show the degree of Rizzolo's malice.

Because he pays circa 1970's rent; is located in such a visible location; and his ongoing battle with Rizzolo is often covered in high profile news media reports, Barrier, a former pro wrestler, claims to be making a fortune off the publicity. Based on his high recognition, he was hired to star in a Toyota TV commercial with auto pitch man John Barr, and has been featured on the cover of Las Vegas Mercury magazine.

Meanwhile, the FBI is watching Rizzolo's every move. This gives Barrier some solace in knowing his back is covered, especially when its well known that Rizzolo has many friends in organized crime.

Regarding Barrier's harassment lawsuit. the court has delayed the trial waiting for expected indictments of persons associated with the Crazy Horse. In the meantime, Rizzolo and several of his associates have been liquidating their assets. However, they may have again been ill-advised by Patti and Sgro. Transfers of assets made during a highly publicized federal racketeering investigation can be reversed by the court if the defendants are found guilty.

When I sent a daily E-Brief about last Monday's tagging of Barrier's customer's cars, one of my brilliant readers summed it up in these few words:

Steve: Not only does this seem like malicious persecution, but for the judge to suggest "registered and plates," leaves the practitioner of malice advised to play upon that removable item. Was there not a security camera on the roof across the street.... Evidence of a crime??? Mercy....this guy is 'pathologically' vindictive! Has a medical institution ever checked him for being toxic with hypnotic chemicals. If not, what makes him so uncontrollable, unaccountable, irresponsible and arrogant? Jim should invite him over for coffee and slip him some Prozac! I wonder what his pre-teen and teen years were like? I bet he kept the juvy's busy?  Maybe, he was run out of Orange County? Bad question, easy answer, eh? - Lee

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