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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:

Special Note
Steve Miller will be the guest host of the Lou Epton Radio Program, Friday March 18, from 1:30 - 3 PM, PST. The program can be heard live on the Internet @

When will Rizzolo Rat?
The days of "omerta" are long gone

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 14, 2004

Vegas is crawling with feds. The FBI's Organized Crime Strike Task Force is said to have over 80 agents stationed here on any given day along with a slew of IRS fraud investigators, most are from the top of their class with many possessing law degrees.

When did this acute interest in our city begin?

At the outset in 2002, the feds coined "Operation Crazy Horse" as the name of their local organized crime probe. The Crazy Horse is a local topless bar suspected of being a front for the mob. But why such an extensive and costly probe over one topless bar? Who is the "big fish" they're after? Is the Crazy Horse the tip of the iceberg?  Maybe an event that just happened will help shed some light.

Former New York cop and author Lou Eppolito, along with his ex-cop pal Stephen Caracappa, got caught up in the federal investigation of Vegas' organized crime and stand accused of taking money to use their badge to kill when they served on the NYPD. Both ex cops-turned-Las Vegas-retirees currently sit in jail cells awaiting extradition after being arrested in a local mob hangout several days ago. Eppolito is the author of  "Mafia Cop," and is featured as a character actor in several Hollywood films including "Goodfellas."

But would the duo have been discovered if the feds had a lesser interest in Sin City?

According to the last Sunday's New York Daily News, "The son of a mob bagman, Eppolito said he grew up in Brooklyn despising the cops he saw on the take."

In the story "I'm no wiseguy he told Vegas" by Daily News staff writer Helen Kennedy, Eppolito told a Las Vegas radio audience, "'There was a lot of them that did not take pride in themselves. They were bought off for two and three dollars at a time,' he said on KKVV-AM's 'Lou Epton Show' in an engaging interview the station has played repeatedly."

"'There are crooks. There are bad guys. There are guys in the New York City Police Department that make the Mafia look like they are standing still,' he said. 'You weed it out.'"

The Las Vegas radio audience bought Eppolito's story. "At the end of the radio show, gushing callers couldn't stop calling him 'a good human being' and begging him to run for office or join the Vegas police," the NY Daily News reported.

"'I'd like to be a character witness for this guy,'" said host Epton, who had Eppolito on the show three or four times. "'He was just so decent,'" Epton told the Daily News

If Eppolito was a decent guy and really despised crooked cops, he would have found plenty to deal with right here in his new hometown. However, this disgraced cop's arrest may be a harbinger of things to come, but on a more localized level?

Here in Las Vegas, a dozen or so crooked cops have for over two years refused to file reports involving the Crazy Horse, a story I always tell during my dozens of appearances on the Lou Epton show. Ever since the February 21, 2003 combined FBI and IRS raid of the club, repeated complaints have been ignored or never taken by certain local cops and prosecutors possibly as a way to weaken the fed's case.

This being Eppolito's favorite subject from his NY days and because he's a well known movie actor, had he been legitimate, he could have used his background and fame to join law school graduate and city council tormentor Steven Dempsey at his twice monthly televised tongue lashings of  the mayor and council.

Dempsey who goes by the nickname "Captain Truth," has for the past three years spoken at every Las Vegas City Council Citizen's Participation session. Each time he repeats his demand that the mayor bring the Crazy Horse up on a license revocation action. He does this knowing that his demand embarrasses the mayor because he cannot offend his former clients; his partner's present clients; and his two lawyer son's future clients who are about to be indicted in "Operation Crazy Horse." Dempsey being joined in his quest by a well recognized movie actor would have driven Goodman crazy and could have generated local support. But Ippolito had a far different agenda.

I recently reported on the Epton show that police allegedly threatened two persons who claimed to be roughed up for dissing a made man who worked at the Crazy Horse.

I also reported that a Hollywood movie producer last summer testified before the Federal Grand Jury that he was threatened with violence when he refused to sign a bogus credit card bill for $23,000, and that local police refused to respond. On another program I told of a local attorney who in August 2004 was threatened if he didn't sign a credit card slip for over $3,000. He signed, and then told the Grand Jury of his experience. Evidently Eppolito wasn't listening to any of these programs or he could have found fodder for another book on police corruption.

Eppolito, an avid Epton listener, must have heard one of my regular appearances. If so, such a "good human being" should have been inspired to help "weed out" the local cops who were often described giving high-fives to Crazy Horse bouncers after bar patrons called the police to report being beaten or robbed.

In Las Vegas, there are many other corrupt but "decent" appearing individuals who have captured the attention of the feds and the "gushing" of local citizens. Along with several city and state politicians, the DA, several veteran cops and a few judges are suspected of using their positions to protect the topless bar suspected of paying tribute to at least one New York crime family, a place where brutality is a daily occurrence.

Unfortunately, in Vegas many people spend a lot of time trying to dispel our shady image of the past while turning their backs on what -- only here -- could be considered a minor abuse of the public's trust. So what if a few cops are on the take, or a judge makes a bad ruling as a favor to a campaign contributor? This is Vegas after all!

Once known as "The Last Resort," Vegas has always been a place to come and cleanse the sins of one's past. Few in this desert town care what happened yesterday, its today that counts. We like to give people a break no matter how shady their past. This is probably why our most popular politician, Mayor Oscar Goodman, was once the mouthpiece of some of the most dangerous criminals in recent history, but is today considered a possible leading contender for Nevada's governorship. Incidentally, Goodman's business partner David Chesnoff is Eppolito's criminal defense attorney who says the highly decorated former policeman is a model citizen. If so, where was his client when local cops were disclosed being on the take from Rizzolo's cronies? Was he listening to his favorite radio program? Chesnoff also represents Vinnie Faraci.

In a town like this its easy to look the other way, even for Chesnoff's business partner the mayor who was the criminal defense attorney for Al Rapuano, one of Rizzolo's bar managers who was recommended for denial by Nevada Gaming Control authorities who said Rapuano's close association with Nevada Black Book member Joey Cusumano and others disqualified him for licensure as a Crazy Horse key employee. The mayor voted for his former client's license nonetheless.

If Lou Epton's sceptical listeners could be duped by a person such as Eppolito, then Vegas citizens continue to be duped by their mayor and DA's inaction in the Crazy Horse case. No public uprising, nothing. However the wake up call will soon be heard.

Regarding the Crazy Horse Too topless bar, the stakes are high. The club's purported owner Rick Rizzolo has often bragged that his business garners over $27 million per year, and his million dollar credit line at several Strip casinos supports his claim. Though his run down bar bears little resemblance in opulence to others nearby, it seems to generate twice the revenue. Its also suspected of being the town's biggest whore house and dope den along with harboring a lucrative credit card rip off operation and money laundry. No wonder the Horse breaks all records when it comes to revenue generation and lack of hygiene!

The pressure is on the Crazy Horse's known and suspected owners to roll over and identify the actual recipients of what may be tens of millions per year in cash tributes, some that are allegedly used to bribe politicians and law enforcement personnel to allow the scams to continue.

Also, the Crazy Horse and Rizzolo are suspected of at least one murder and several cases of bashing heads when patrons refused to go along with their alleged credit card rip off program. The henious deeds alleged at the Horse compare to those  Ippolito and his New York crew are accused of. As in New York, Las Vegas needs to clean up its act or the feds will do it for us.

This all causes me to speculate that the recent arrests and defections at the Crazy Horse by Bobby D'Apice and Vinnie Faraci are part of a squeeze by the feds to generate information not only about local protection under color of law, but of who in New York's' crime families might be receiving cash for helping such an operation to continue unabated?

Former Crazy Horse manager Faraci who is known as a made man, is the son of "Johnny Green" Faraci, a capo in the imploding Bonanno crime family -- a family where becoming a federal witness has become a way of life. And Rocco Lombardo, another Crazy Horse executive,  is the brother of former Chicago Outfit boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo.  Joey, another former client of Oscar Goodman, is suspected of also turning federal witness.

Its not beyond anyone's imagination to think Faraci, D'Apice, and Lombardo are singing like canaries. The days of "omerta" are long gone. Is Rick Rizzolo next? And will he implicate several well known local public officials?

"Operation Crazy Horse" is here to stamp out the new racket that replaced the mob's previous skimming operations in casinos -- a new racket that horny East Coast mob types like a lot better.

Instead of skimming casino cash -- a mostly boring job, now the sons of those who made Vegas famous in crime stories have found a much more hedonistic endeavor. Escort services and at least one strip club are their new venue of choice. Booze, broads, and blood allegedly keep the goons happy while cash flows to crooked local cops and politicians to keep them looking the other way. Because of the local indifference, there is ample reason for federal intervention.

Within the next month, another story -- this one even more shocking that the Eppolito bust, is expected to unfold in Sin City.  With the expected defection of  D'Apice, Faraci, and eventually Rizzolo, its expected that the offices of the US Attorney in both Nevada and New York will have all they need to help implode what is left of at least one New York crime family.

Las Vegas' shame will be New York's gain when "Operation Crazy Horse" finally concludes.

For more information, go to: The Rick Rizzolo Connection

Steve Miller will be the guest host of the Lou Epton Radio Program, Friday March 18, from 1:30 - 3 PM, PST. The program can be heard live on the Internet @

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

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