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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:

U.S. Marshals threaten Buffalo Jim on the
same day Rick Rizzolo returns from prison

So many coincidences may indicate a government mole

        Closed Crazy Horse Too (left), Open Allstate Auto & Marine (right)
                               ( photo by Mike Christ)

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 10, 2008

On the same day convicted racketeering Rick Rizzolo was released from prison, his chief accuser and key witness, garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier, received a threatening letter from the United States Marshals Service -- a letter that if complied with would devastate his business.

Is this an innocent coincidence? Or is it
the latest in a series of suspicious actions recently taken by government officials in the Crazy Horse Too case?

The first was when Assistant US Attorney for Nevada Daniel Hollingsworth on August 13, 2007 filed a MOTION stating: "The general public should not be allowed to know the proposed offers, the proprietary information, etc." regarding the sale of the government seized topless bar.

Then last week's INSIDE VEGAS told about
Hollingsworth on February 22, 2008 inexplicably taking the side of a California bank against a quadriplegic who was almost killed at the Crazy Horse when he refused to pay an inflated bar tab. 

This action completely contradicts the words of Hollingsworth's predecessor former US Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden who on January 3, 2007 stated: "The Court also took important steps toward ensuring Kirk Henry and his family received through our justice system, the restitution they need to cope and deal with the brutal and tragic attack Crazy Horse Too employees inflicted upon Kirk Henry in September 2001."

In total contrast, Hollingsworth sided with an out of state bank that failed to do its due diligence. A bank that is trying to displace Henry from being first in line to receive payment from the sale of the seized bar and real estate. Hollingsworth
asked Federal Judge Philip Pro to place the bank in first position after bank officers (stupidly) loaned Rizzolo $5 million dollars secured by the topless bar (three weeks before his indictment). Hollingsworth tried to explain to Judge Pro that the bank had no way of knowing they were about to make a bad loan. He then blatantly failed to mention that Rizzolo also secured the loan with ample personal assets over and above the value of his bar and its 2.65 acres which is currently appraised at only $5.4 million.

Late in the hearing Hollingsworth apparently slipped when he told the court he believed the Crazy Horse had been sold for over $30 million and the sale would close within 30 days.

His eagerness to get the saloon reopened also flew in the face of the feelings of his predecessor Bogden who said: “With today’s sentencings, the Court wrote the final chapter of defendant Rizzolo’s long control over what many believed was an impenetrable criminal enterprise involved in violence, fear and fraud."

Bogden was fired by the Bush Administration shortly after Rizzolo was sentenced. The suspicious actions on the part of his successors began shortly thereafter.

Because of Hollingsworth's quest for secrecy and to see the Crazy Horse come back to life, the general public may never know if a Rizzolo crony or clone is allowed to reopen the bar.

Based on Hollingsworth's wishful statement that the bar is sold for over five times its appraised value, Judge Pro tabled the joint MOTIONS of the bank and U.S. Attorney pending such a sale that if completed would pay all debts at once including the bank's and Henry's, and make moot the question of
Who's on first?

Three weeks have gone by since that hearing and there's still no word of any sale. In the meantime, Rick Rizzolo was released from prison last Tuesday and is being held at a half way house five blocks south of the Crazy Horse on Industrial Road.

If the bar doesn't sell by June, Judge Pro will be forced to seize Rick and Lisa Rizzolo's hidden personal assets to pay their debts, an action that could bring embarrassment upon a fellow Federal Court Judge.

Now someone in the government may be showing him sympathy for having to see his arch enemy's business
thrive while his former next door topless bar has sat empty --
infested with rats and scorpions -- for over 8 1/2 months. This must hurt even worse since Barrier's business is built on a loyal customer base and never had to "extort payment... through threats of violence and through the actual use of force" in order to become a success.

On the day of Rizzolo's return to Sin City, the following letter was hand delivered to Barrier.

According to a half dozen attorneys interviewed for this story, two things make the Marshal's letter uniquely illegal. One: It completely contradicts a STIPULATION issued by Judge Pro that maintains the sanctity of Barrier's original lease -- a lease that never mentioned the number of vehicles Barrier can park adjacent to his business. And Two: The letter was sent by a party in a Federal Court proceeding to another party in the same proceeding ex parte -- meaning improper contact was made with a represented party without notice to the counsel for that party. Barrier was forced to fax the hand delivered letter to his attorneys.

U.S. Marshals received Barrier's properly executed response via certified mail on March 5, 2008.

Attorney and Counselor at Law
528 South Casino Center Blvd., #311
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
March 4, 2008

Dear Ms. Gill:
    I represent James C. Barrier dba Allstate Auto. Your letter of March 3, 2008 regarding the parking spaces at this location has been referred to me for a response.
    The court order you referred to was in effect while the Crazy Horse Too was in full operation and was located next to Allstate Auto. It was one of the orders issued in the dispute between them in their civil dispute in the Eighth Judicial District Court.
    That order is no longer in effect since the Crazy Horse Too has ceased doing business as a result of the federal court proceedings. This order was done to control the conflict between them in their civil litigation. During their dispute, representatives of the Crazy Horse had a number of cars belonging to customers of Allstate Auto towed away. Several small claims were filed for these illegal tows and THE CRAZY HORSE TOO LOST EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE CASES (emphasis added).
    Under the lease agreement that Mr. Barrier had with the original owner, Jim Schiff, Allstate had the right to use considerably more than seven spaces for its business. He can use the spaces along side his building and in back of the building by his garage. I am enclosing the relevant section of Mr. Barrier's lease, section 8, page 2, that governs the landlord tenant relationship. That lease was entered into in July 1988 and has 20 one year options to extend the lease.
    As for the front of the business, he uses the parking spaces directly in front and up to the front door entrance to the Crazy Horse. Since I represent Mr. Barrier and my own vehicles are repaired there, I often go to his shop. He has his customer cars within those areas. There are literally dozens of parking spaces in front of the Crazy Horse and all of those spaces are usually empty. There are a couple of small businesses at the north end of that building but there are only three to six cars or so by those stores.
    It is very curious as to who placed "several calls concerning the number of vehicles parked in the Crazy Horse parking spaces" to your office. We are also very curious as to why this is even a problem since that business is closed down and has no customers. So what is the problem here? We don't see any problem.
    So, who is calling and why? Why would someone give you a court order that has become moot and of no consequence? We suspect it comes from the Rizzolo family or its attorneys who still want to harass Mr. Barrier. If so, we understand the source and give it no credibility. Furthermore, there is no reason why your office should be involved in carrying out the requests of convicted criminals who no longer own the property or operate a business there.
    It is Mr. Barrier who worked for many years to provide information to federal and state law enforcement officials regarding the Crazy Horse and who has fully cooperated with the U.S. Marshal's office after the Crazy Horse was closed down.
    The actual lease provision allows Allstate Auto to use the non-exclusive common area parking spaces as needed for his business. Thus, there is no problem and no reason why your office need concern itself with this "non-problem." Mr. Barrier is entitled to carry on his business without interference from any source.
    I trust this will end the dispute. The court order you are referring to is no longer worth the paper it is printed on. Furthermore, I don't think the U.S. Marshal's office wants to do anything that will bring embarrassment to itself. You folks have plenty of real problems and real cases to deal with and this isn't one of them.
Sincerely yours,

Buffalo Jim Barrier opened his Allstate Auto and Marine Repair business in 1976. Eight years later in 1984, Rizzolo leased the space next door and opened the Crazy Horse Too topless bar.
In Barrier's lease it states: "Tenant, for the use and benefit of Tenant, its agents, employees, customers... shall have the non-exclusive right in common with Landlord and other present and future owners... to use said common and parking areas during the entire term of this lease."
No where in the lease does it specify how many vehicles he can park on the property, but from a half way house, Rizzolo is challenging Barrier's right to park customer's cars on a property he no longer owns, and someone in the federal government is playing along!
Within months of opening the Crazy Horse, Rizzolo began extorting his bar's patrons and having them threatened or beaten if they refused to pay inflated tabs. To Rizzolo's dismay, Barrier documented dozens of beatings by photographing the victims and calling 911 when they wandered into his business.
In 1989, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to beating bar patron Rick Sandlin with a baseball bat. Sandlin died of his injuries several years later. And in 1995 the Crazy Horse was sued for the wrongful death of Scott David Fau.
With no opposition from City Hall, Rizzolo continued his method of operation uninterrupted, suspected of spiking bar drinks, selling dope, and operating a prostitution ring in the back room and in limousines parked in the alley shared by his bar and Barrier's garage.
All the while, and in the face of physical threats from Rizzolo's goons, Barrier reported his neighbor's crimes to his landlord, LV Metro Police, and the FBI without fearing retribution. In 2002, the Federal Government stepped in when District Attorney David Roger refused to prosecute all cases brought to him by Metro including the attempted murder of Kirk Henry, a beating Barrier documented with photographs showing Henry lying near death in front of the bar.
In 2002, Rizzolo purchased the strip center where the bar and garage are co-located, and immediately tried to evict Barrier. The District Court sided with Barrier. That's when Barrier's troubles really began.

Rizzolo called upon his former criminal defense attorney and corporate agent who is now the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, to send City of Las Vegas Parking Enforcement scooters to patrol the topless bar's privately owned parking lot and ticket Barrier's customer's vehicles several times per day. After a story appeared in a local paper, the illegal practice suddenly stopped.
Rizzolo also reverted to towing or damaging Barrier's customer's cars after Barrier closed each evening.
Barrier sued Rizzolo multiple times in Small Claims Court and won all cases. The illegal towing continued. Barrier took his case to District Court and won again.
When asked about the ongoing harassment, Barrier described it as "Chicken shit! Rizzolo is acting like a little gang banger slashing tires and keying paint. Any legitimate business 'man' would've bought out my lease."
To try to make peace, a District Court Judge temporarily ruled that Barrier could only park seven vehicles adjacent to his business while Rizzolo owned the property.
Barrier complied until the strip center was seized by the United States of America. Since then, as the center's only full time tenant, Barrier resumed parking his customer's vehicles in areas previously approved in his original lease, the only lease in effect after the property was seized according to Judge Pro.
Now, one of the federal agencies that relied on Barrier to cement their case against Rizzolo is acting like Barrier is the enemy!
Several months ago, Rizzolo's attorney Tony Sgro contacted the United States Marshals Service and complained that Barrier was violating the terms of his client's lease by parking more that seven vehicles adjacent to his business. The former pro wrestler responded that the lease Sgro was referring to was no longer in effect and that Sgro had no authority to complain since he does not represent the building's new landlord -- the United States of America.
The Marshals left Barrier alone obviously knowing they had no authority to enforce Sgro's wishes -- that's until last week when Rizzolo rolled into town and Barrier received the threatening letter moments after the convict was assigned his bunk just down the street.

Barrier in front of his auto repair business (LV Review-Journal photo)

"I risked my life helping the government shut down that criminal enterprise, and this is how they thank me?" Barrier said. "I was here first and I need to be able to park my customer's cars adjacent to my garage like I have for over thirty years. Rizzolo is in a half way house and the Crazy Horse is out of business. His lawyer has no right to ask the Marshals to continue his harassment."

Barrier continued, "I will take whatever legal action is necessary to stop the U.S. Marshals from taking orders from criminals. If they tow my customer's cars this Monday, they'll learn what it's like to grab a tiger by the tale just like the Mafia did, and will end up having to defend their action in a protracted court case and in the national media arena." "I didn't fight this hard to let the people I once considered my allies try to wreck by business."
Jim Barrier exemplified what every good citizen should do whenever he witnesses criminal acts -- call the proper authorities and don't take no for an answer. If it were not for his selfless actions, the Crazy Horse would still be open and hapless tourists would be subject to beatings or worse.
The U.S. Government does not need another black eye by punishing a well known local citizen for his good deeds.

I've been informed that the local and national media are standing by to re-energize this story if the Marshals decide to tow any vehicles without Judge Pro's approval.

Meanwhile, the half way house where Rizzolo is living is being monitored 24/7. And rumor has it that several federal officials involved in this case are being looked at closely by another law enforcement agency.

"It the Marshals do this as a favor for a hoodlum, then they're the ones acting like mobsters, and will be prosecuted accordingly," stated Barrier.

And they say the Mob no longer runs Vegas...

Copyright © Steve Miller

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