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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:

Two faced Vegas mayor maintains his mob roots

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 2, 2009

LAS VEGAS - The latest story about racketeer Rick Rizzolo hiding assets illegally obtained while he owned the now shuttered Crazy Horse Too topless bar, has caught fire in our local press. With his and his ex-wife's bills going unpaid, and the IRS and a beating victim hot on their heels, Rizzolo has inspired Department of Justice prosecutors to travel to Vegas from Washington D.C. to conduct a Federal Grand Jury probe of his knowledge of Michael McDonald, a former LV police officer-turned-councilman-turned-mob lackey.
Mar. 01, 2009 
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 
JOHN L. SMITH: Grand jury investigation of McDonald keeps Rizzolo in hot seat 

If Rick Rizzolo dreamed of living happily ever after, he was only kidding himself. He must know that by now. He was recently served with a subpoena compelling his testimony before a federal grand jury in a brewing Internal Revenue Service tax case against his friend, former Las Vegas City Councilman and ex-Metro police officer Michael McDonald. Unless defense attorney Tony Sgro can figure a way to get that subpoena quashed, I'm hearing Rizzolo will receive limited immunity from prosecution and be ordered to answer questions about his long relationship with McDonald... Could McDonald have done Rizzolo a favor by, for instance, harboring or selling off his assets? 

Subpoena of Rizzolo sparks buzz of speculation
The former Crazy Horse Too owner is ordered 
to appear before a federal grand jury

By Jeff German
Feb 23, 2009 

There has been talk that Rizzolo may be wielding influence at another local topless club in violation of his 2006 plea agreement to stay out of the business. There’s also speculation that he may have hid assets from the government in his amicable 2005 divorce. In court papers last week, Rizzolo denied concealing any money and said he no longer even has cash to hire lawyers to fend off his creditors. He said he’s waiting for the government to sell the Crazy Horse Too “since it’s my only chance to get out of this mess and pay everybody off.”


If Rizzolo wants to remain on parole and not be shuttled back to federal prison, he'll be forced to rat on McDonald, and possibly on McDonald's mentor LV Mayor Oscar Goodman along with Goodman's law partnersDavid Chesnoff and Jay Brown.

Brown is the business partner of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Brown served with Oscar Goodman as Rick Rizzolo's corporate resident agents for The Power Company Inc. The present corporate agent for RicRiz LLC is John Dawson, brother of United States Federal Judge Kent Dawson.

Other prominent locals who could also end up in the line of Federal Grand Jury questions are Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Siatta; U.S. Federal Judge Kent Dawson; Clark County District Attorney David Roger: and Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass, all of whom have been accused of doing Rick Rizzolo, his employees, or family members favors -- favors including not prosecuting Crazy Horse Too employees for beating and robbing patrons, or prosecuting Rizzolo's son for attempted murder.

Goodman has for years made it no secret that he considers Rizzolo one of his best friends, and the mayor's quasi-official actions time and again have proven this to be true.

Goodman has also remained loyal to the disgraced ex-councilman after McDonald was ousted from office in 2003.

In 2007, in an amazing act of generosity with taxpayer's money, Goodman gifted his protégé' with publicly owned land for millions under market value. Now the feds want to know where McDonald got his money to buy the property? And did it possibly come from Rick Rizzolo as part of a scheme to hide assets from seizure?
Jun. 21, 2007 
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 

McDonald gets OK to buy land for less than appraisals 

Michael McDonald visited his old City Hall stomping grounds Wednesday and left with the council agreeing to sell him land for millions of dollars less than it's worth... "Only an idiot would say this transaction would not be looked at closely," he (Goodman) said. Despite that, the mayor and the rest of the council voted to sell the land to the former Las Vegas councilman because of a desperate need for affordable housing for the elderly, they said. 


A year and a half after the city sold the the Vegas Drive and Decatur Blvd. land to McDonald, it still stands vacant.

But Goodman was not always McDonald's biggest fan. The two-faced mayor in October 2000 -- while intoxicated -- signed my RECALL McDONALD petition.

Three years later, after being told by his former and current mob clients that Mike McDonald had fallen into line and begun doing their bidding, and after dozens of massage parlors and escort services were allowed to open in McDonald's ward, Goodman, in an amazing display of hypocrisy, endorsed McDonald in his campaign for a third term on the city council.

                                    The front lawn of Mayor Oscar Goodman's home, March 2003

When I saw Goodman lending his endorsement and fund raising skills to McDonald's re-election, I decided it was time to take desperate measures to try to clean out the cesspool at city hall. In August, 2007, CityLife magazine wrote a rather embarrassing story about my unorthodox, but necessary tactics.

I especially wanted to take action since I live in the old part of town that had become infested with prostitution related businesses and pay day loan sharks. It's too painful sitting back and watching a fine old neighborhood be ruined by government sanctioned greed, throwing caution to the wind, several friends and I forged ahead with a scheme that soon drove McDonald and his staff from city hall.

Unfortunately, they were soon replaced with more of Oscar Goodman's minions, and little positive change occurred.
'A fundamental assault on liberties' 
Canada not immune to illicit trade
By Florence Loyie
The Edmonton Journal
February 25, 2009

The U.S. Department of State's recent annual Trafficking in Persons report pegs Canada as a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour... The victim is usually taken to another city, where she is further groomed for her new role, often by another woman. Then she will be taken over the border, usually to Las Vegas, where she will be used as a high-priced escort.


Several years after McDonald's campaign sign appeared on his front lawn, Goodman made a surprise visit to my home. In this photo by Mike Christ, Goodman is pictured asking me to go easy on Rick Rizzolo.

Had I not rebutted his advances by showing him my latest INSIDE VEGAS column blasting Rizzolo, he probably would have included McDonald in his "go easy" request while we awkwardly dodged traffic in the middle of the street.

Though our unsophisticated local voters adore him, Mayor Oscar Goodman has never severed his mob roots and continues doing his law partner's organized crime clients favors and allowing them to operate criminal enterprises within the city limits in preference to looking out for the safety and welfare of law abiding Vegas citizens.

Now, one of his biggest clients, Rick Rizzolo, is about to be given his choice of remaining free, or going back to prison in the event he refuses to answer the questions of federal prosecutors probing his main lackey Mike McDonald.

In the past, people like Rizzolo have felt immune from such inquiries because of their local political connections. But, according to Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith, "Those DOJ attorneys didn't come all the way from Washington, D.C., to play footsie. I'm guessing they're looking for a scalp."

Many hope some scalps will be taken especially after the Nevada Supreme Court last week dismissed a harassment lawsuit filed in June, 2002 by Rizzolo's former next door neighbor, the late James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier. (It's not yet known whether Rizzolo's friend, Justice Nancy Siatta, voted on the dismissal.)

In August 2007, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez Ordered that Rizzolo put $1 million dollars into the court's escrow account to be available in the event Barrier prevailed in his law suit. Rizzolo was livid!

The trial was scheduled in 2008, but Barrier died a mysterious death in April of that year -- the day following Rick Rizzolo's release from prison. Immediately following Barrier's death, Rzzolo's lawyers filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Supreme Court asking to have the case dismissed and the $1 million dollar Order overturned.

Because of the Supreme Court's ruling, and based on the primary witness' death, the case is now expected to routinely be dismissed in District Court at an upcoming status check scheduled for March 12, 2009.

But even that small victory will not help Rizzolo. A Federal Magistrate Judge last week opened the door for Rizzolo's 26 year old delinquent son Dominic, and the family's criminal defense attorney Tony Sgro to be deposed in the Kirk Henry beating case.

Henry's attorneys, former U.S. Federal Prosecutors Don Campbell and Stan Hunterton, will conduct the depositions, though all the information they receive will be kept confidential according to the Magistrate's ruling to seal potential insurance beneficiary information; joint trust agreements; and individual trust agreements involving other individuals.

Unfortunately, now it appears that the public will not learn the names of the Rizzolo's business partners.
Case 2:08-cv-00635-PMP-GWF Document 87 Filed 02/25/2009 Page 1 of 2

This matter is before the Court on Non-Party Dominic Rizzolo’s Objection to Subpoena Duces Tecum and Motion to Quash (#63, 69), filed January 27, 2009 and Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Objection to Subpoena Duces Tecum and Motion to Quash Subpoena (#74), filed February 10, 2009. Also before the Court is Non-Party Anthony P. Sgro’s Motion for Protective Order (#66), filed January 28, 2009 and Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion for Protective Order (#75), filed February 10, 2009. The Court conducted a hearing on these matters on February 20, 2009. Having considered the papers submitted by the parties and oral argument by counsel, and good cause appearing, IT IS ORDERED that Non-Party Dominic Rizzolo’s Objection to Subpoena Duces Tecum and Motion to Quash (#63, 69) is granted, in part, and denied, in part as follows: Pursuant to the agreement of the parties, the deposition of Dominic Rizzolo shall be taken, if necessary, on reasonable notice in Las Vegas, Nevada after the District Court decides Plaintiff’s objection to Order (#73). Plaintiffs will also pay Dominic Rizzolo’s reasonable travel costs for appearing in Las Vegas for the deposition.
 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Non-Party Anthony P. Sgro’s Motion for Protective Order (#66), filed January 28, 2009; Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion for Protective Order (#75) is granted, in part, and denied, in part as follows: The deposition of Anthony Sgro shall be taken (emphasis added by author), if necessary, on reasonable notice in Las Vegas, Nevada after the District Court decides Plaintiff’s objection to Order (#73). The deposition may be videotaped by Plaintiffs and shall be limited to one day of seven hours.
DATED this 24th day of February, 2009.
 United States Magistrate Judge

Maybe there's a light at the end of this tunnel after all, when those who have been so overly protected are about to be forced to drop their armor and squeal, or possibly spend their best years behind bars where they've always belonged.

These are very interesting times in Sin City.

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