Another Embarrassing Day
in Court for Rizzolo
Long-time feud escalates after third legal defeat
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 29, 2004
"There has never been a suit filed that we haven't beaten and
I'm hoping our record
will stay that way." -- Bart Rizzolo, August
"When is the city going to shut that toilet down?" --
Buffalo Jim Barrier, March 19, 2004
LAS VEGAS - For the past several years, Frederick
"Rick" Rizzolo, the purported owner of the Crazy Horse Too strip joint,
has been trying to throw out his next door neighbor, Buffalo Jim Barrier.
In 2002, Rizzolo purchased the shopping center where Barrier's auto garage,
Allstate Auto & Marine, is located -- then he filed an eviction action,
but to no avail. His action was thrown out of court when Barrier's lease
proved to be rock solid.
Its not confirmed whether Rizzolo was personally involved, but soon
after the shopping center was purchased, Allstate customer's cars began
being vandalized, water and electricity was cut off, and a threat was made
on Barrier's life. But all this did not convince the stubborn half-Greek,
half-American Indian mechanic to move.
Rizzolo needs Barrier's space to expand his adult business, however
he's not willing to buy out Barrier's remaining five year leasehold. Instead,
Rizzolo is apparently depending on his political
clout to do the trick at no expense to himself. Meanwhile, Crazy Horse
patrons are greeted by Buffalo Jim and his funky garage every time they
patronize Rizzolo's bar.
Buffalo Jim Barrier (Las Vegas Review Journal)
For the past several years, life has been less than pleasant for both
parties. Barrier who pays only forty-three cents per square foot for his
10,000 square foot garage cannot find comparable space so near the Strip
for less than three dollars per foot. He considers his mob associated neighbor
and new landlord a pesky pain in the ass -- but something he can bear for
the bargain price he's paying.
Rizzolo has other troubles that make his skirmish with Barrier pale
in comparison. On February 20, 2003, the Crazy Horse
by eighty federal agents for suspected links between the business and organized
crime, along with suspected political corruption and racketeering.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported:
"The warrant specifically authorized officers to seize 'documents
and records which would demonstrate the existence of tribute payments'
made to La Cosa Nostra crime families for allowing the business to operate
in Las Vegas. It also authorized the seizure of records that 'would establish
the identity of those persons who may have a hidden ownership in the club.'
Las Vegas Review Journal
FRONT PAGE photo by Gary Thompson
Even with federal indictments looming, Rizzolo persists with his plan
to expand his business. He allegedly called in some favors from a few politicians
-- notably the mayor -- and soon the city's Parking Enforcement Division
went into action. Imagine taxpayers paying for daily inspections of a strip
club parking lot by city employees driving city equipment! One can easily
see the results of the political influence the skin merchant has mustered
from years of doling out nefarious
Up until last week, it was common to see city employees in Parking
Enforcement vehicles asking Barrier's customers to leave the premises or
face being towed. This occurs while Barrier's lease clearly states:
for the use and benefit of tenant, his agents, employees, and customers,
shall have the nonexclusive right in common with landlord and other and
future tenants... to use all designated parking areas during the entire
term of this lease."
Its also documented that when Rizzolo bought the center, he agreed
in writing to honor Barrier's lease including the parking provisions.
He signed a Purchase Agreement stating: "That Buyer has been advised
that the property is subject to certain leases listed on Exhibit "B", and
it agrees to purchase the Property subject to the terms of said leases."
Then the city became involved. When asked about the sudden and unusual
parking enforcement action, the head of the Parking Enforcement Division
referred all inquiries to Mayor Oscar Goodman's office. Goodman, prior
to being elected mayor of Sin City, was Rizzolo's attorney and represented
a number of current Crazy Horse employees in past criminal defense actions.
Therein lies the suspected quid pro quo that brings forth the harassment
that Barrier claims is violating his lease and civil rights -- "harassment
under color of law."
Joey Cusumano & Goodman
It also needs to be mentioned that Goodman's biggest former client,
Cusumano, is suspected of having hidden ownership in the Crazy Horse.
Last Friday, Clark County Justice Court had a different take on the
Barrier/Rizzolo situation. Barrier sued Rizzolo for the expense of recovering
his customer's vehicles from impound lots and to stop the illegal towing.
He easily won his case, but not before Rizzolo's attorney told the court
a bold faced lie.
The attorney from the firm of Patti and Sgro
falsely and knowingly told the court that Barrier had agreed to the no-parking
provision in a newly signed lease that he forgot to bring to court.
Barrier's attorney explained that his client would never sign such a
lease, and if he had, it would certainly have included a month to month
provision. If so, Barrier would have been evicted at the last court hearing
-- a hearing that ruled the lease has been valid since 1976 when it was
originally signed, and remains soundly in effect until 2009 when it expires.
Following Friday's verdict, Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas wrote the
That morning following the trial, Barrier appeared live on a radio
talk show I was hosting. He bragged of his victory, and when asked if Rizzolo
had paid the judgment, Barrier stated that if the money was not paid within
ten days, he would place a lien on Rizzolo's private residence in Canyon
Then in the middle of the interview from Barrier's garage, the unimaginable
happened. A drunk staggered out of the Crazy Horse Too and passed out in
front of Barrier's office!
Barrier interrupted his interview to go outside and assist the hapless
bar patron who was on his way to his car when he went down. While the radio
audience intently listened, Barrier tried to aid the unresponsive man,
then called 911 on his cellular. Within minutes sirens were heard in the
background. The man was soon revived by paramedics and provided transportation
back to his hotel.
As the event unfolded, Barrier told the radio audience that this was
a common occurrence and the city needed to crack down on Rizzolo for continuously
allowing intoxicated patrons to drive away from his bar. He emphasized
that the Crazy Horse is located across the street from a low-income neighborhood
full of small children, and that bar patrons often "blast off" out of the
parking lot and into the neighborhood.
Following the broadcast, Rizzolo reportedly became furious. He immediately
took additional illegal action against Barrier, this time by coning off
his entire parking lot to Allstate customers.
A second letter was promptly dispatched to attorney Dean Patti:
The cones were removed, but the hostility escalated. The story spread
like wildfire. A humble garage owner was challenging the local mob on their
"For years, the management and 'security' staff of the Crazy Horse
has been infested by a rogues' gallery of thugs, thieves, drug pushers,
and corrupt ex-cops. Most, if not all, have well documented ties to organized
crime figures who frequent the premises. All of this has nurtured a culture
of violence marked by robberies, beatings and even death." -- former
federal organized crime prosecutors Donald Campbell and Stan Hunterton,
Review Journal, 12/22/02
For taking a stand, former pro wrestler Barrier emerged as a local folk
hero and was nicknamed "The Mob Buster!" While his legion of fans
grew, Barrier's picture appeared on the cover of last week's Mercury,
Vegas' most widely read weekly magazine, and he was hired to appear in
a Toyota car commercial.
"The Mob Buster," Buffalo Jim Barrier
On Wednesday March 24, Barrier called this writer to say that another
drunk was photographed leaving the Crazy Horse. Barrier often takes photos
of such episodes trying (in vain) to convince the city to crack down on
violations of the alcohol awareness (TAM) laws that hold bar owners responsible
for allowing severely intoxicated patrons to drive away and endanger innocent
Barrier photographs unconscious man as Crazy Horse bouncer protests
This time events took a turn for the worse. After
protesting Barrier taking photos of the passed out man lying in the main
entrance of their employer's nightclub, bouncers revived the man and tried
to send him to his car. The man did not make it that far.
As Barrier watched in amazement, the man got up
and staggered along the walkway to the front entrance of Allstate Auto
less that 100 feet away. Crazy Horse bouncer James Stressing was in hot
pursuit. The drunk opened the door and stumbled into Barrier's customer
lounge with Stressing at his heals. While frightened garage patrons watched,
the drunk fell onto a couch and again passed out. Barrier called 911 as
Paramedics revived the drunken man who immediately
flashed a police badge! Surprisingly, he was an off-duty cop from another
city who had overindulged. The medical team made sure he was only
drunk, and summoned a taxi.
After paramedics left, Stressing said "f - - k
you" to Barrier in front of customers and garage employees while lingering
"menacingly" in Allstate's waiting room. He followed by giving Barrier
the finger which caused two customers waiting for estimates to walk out.
According to witnesses, Barrier remained silent thought the incident not
wanting to excite the 300 pound bodybuilder.
Barrier has been named a federal witness in the
upcoming racketeering trial of Rizzolo and his associates. The action of
Stressing, who is an agent of Rizzolo, may be considered a threat on a
federal witness, therefore a report of the incident along with witness
statements was submitted to prosecutors. The incident will also be included
as evidence in a civil harassment
lawsuit Barrier filed against Rizzolo and his corporation in 2002.
The trial was taken off calendar on December 17, 2003 after US District
Judge Philip Pro put a stay on all discovery regarding the Crazy Horse
Too pending federal indictments. *
Barrier is not finished. Since the mayor has often
proven his loyalty to the Crazy Horse and its known and suspected owners,
nothing has been done officially to stop the bar from serving patrons until
they are completely drunk, and then letting them drive away. On Friday
March 26, two days after the drunken cop episode, Barrier called Sandy
Heverly, Executive Director of the local chapter of STOP DUI.
Heverly has become nationally known as the originator
of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and has opened chapters
nationwide. Being a Las Vegas resident, Heverly is expected to take special
interest in Barrier's photo collection of drunks and injured patrons trying
to make it to their cars, along with several police reports Barrier will
provide. Heverly has a 100% track record in her quest to lower blood alcohol
limits, and strengthen national DUI laws. The problem of continuing violations
of the TAM (Techniques of Alcohol Management) law at the Crazy Horse is
right up the STOP DUI alley.
Photos of Crazy Horse victims selected from Jim Barrier's collection, 2001
Now, with several court victories under his BWF
Heavyweight Champion belt, Barrier is ready for the next bout. He won't
have long to wait. The Las Vegas Mercury reported
the following in the January 30, 2003 edition:
"Rizzolo says a street widening project that's
slated to get rolling in the next few years will render the whole conflict
moot, as Barrier will have to negotiate with the state Department of Transportation
and Rizzolo will raze the whole shopping center--including Crazy Horse
Too and Buffalo Jim's auto marine shop--and build a new 60,000-square-foot
Based on the Mercury story, Barrier made
three attempts to obtain the new driveway plans from the city, and from
the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). After much prodding, the
city Department of Public Works reluctantly released a set of plans
showing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tax funded amenities
to aid in accessing only one business -- the Crazy Horse Too -- a business
that at the time the plan was released had yet to submit an application
to the city for any new structure.
To this day the city Planning Department is still
not in receipt of a building permit application even though the roadway
plan shows an exaggerated driveway along with an ominous sidewalk running
directly through the middle of Barrier's business; a driveway leading to
a structure that has not yet been approved at a public hearing. It also
shows two turn lanes and a extra wide median in front of the Crazy
Horse to access West Sahara Ave., and only one turn lane to access
East Sahara Ave. which leads to the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Sahara Ave. generates more traffic going toward
the Strip. This discrepancy alone may indicate that the plan was purposefully
and "creatively" designed (by persons yet to be named) in order to crowd
the roadway onto Rizzolo's property making it easier to justify the taking
of Allstate Auto through eminent domain, and to justify his building a
new nightclub on the rear of his property sans Barrier's business.
The timing of the release of this plan and its
suspicious features is causing extensive speculation in the legal community,
especially among transportation specialists. Could this be the quid pro
(A) Driveway & sidewalk through
Barrier's business, (B) Two left turn lanes with extra wide median to access
West Sahara Ave., (C) Exclusive
signalized turn lane into bar, (D) One left turn lane to access East Sahara
(Courtesy of the City of Las Vegas
Department of Public Works. Annotations added by author.)
As a compromise, Barrier offered to move his business
at his personal expense to the north end of the existing building -- the
end that is less subject to draconian action by the city and NDOT. He also
offered to pay double his present rent for a ten year extension of his
lease. However, Rizzolo balked at his suggestion -- which further bolsters
speculation that a conspiracy exists.
Also of interest is the fact that the same roadway
plan skips any engress/egress enhancements for Whittlesea-Bell Transportation
Company located two blocks north of the Crazy Horse. Thousands of cabs,
buses and limos enter and exit the company each 24 hours, but no exclusive
signalized turn lane or custom driveway is depicted for their convenience
or safety on the roadway plan. It seems that the mavens who created the
roadway plan had only the Crazy Horse in mind.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Barrier began
preparing for a lengthy court battle saying it was obvious Rizzolo possessed
advance knowledge when he bragged in the Mercury -- months before
the driveway plans were publicly released -- that his entire building
was going to be razed including the units at the north end that are not
seriously impacted by a road widening -- units that could be used to house
Allstate Auto until the end of its lease. In the meantime, Mayor Goodman
and Rizzolo's attorney appeared together at a public hearing to push an
ordinance making it easier for the Crazy Horse to expand.
Rizzolo's lawyer Dean Patti and
speak in favor of ordinance
to expand Crazy Horse
Who gave Rizzolo advance knowledge of the city's
driveway plans? Was it possibly Rizzolo's
friend Joey Cusamano? He's one of Mayor Oscar Goodman's former mob
clients and someone with whom the mayor still maintains a close relationship.
Or was it Tom
Letizia? He's Goodman's campaign manager and political fund raiser
who doubles as Rizzolo's
PR man. Coincidentally, Tom's cousin Tony
Letizia is the NDOT program development manager in Southern Nevada;
another agency that will need to cooperate if attempts are made to remove
Barrier by eminent domain. Sounds pretty cozy, doesn't it?
The battle lines are drawn, and the taxpayers
will bear the cost for much of the legal battle if Rizzolo et al., have
their way. However, Barrier and his team of prominent attorneys are ready.
Another law firm, one who specializes in Fifth Amendment issues and property
rights, is also standing by to join the Barrier legal team if the need
If and when Rizzolo and his supporters make their
move, most of the above named individuals, and others to be named at a
later date, could be sued in their separate personal and professional capacities
as possible co-conspirators in a scheme to violate Barrier's civil rights
under color of law. If so, they may end up defending themselves in a protracted
federal court battle that might make them think twice about having done
favors for a "person
of ill repute."
Based on the quality of advice and representation
that his attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro have so far provided in the
Barrier dispute, Rizzolo's defense in the more arduous upcoming cases may
also end with similar results.
Of course, for the eminent domain and business
expansion to take place, Rizzolo needs to stay out of prison. He has reportedly
asked the mayor's son, Ross Goodman, to defend
him at trial if he's indicted.
Asked if he's frightened taking on the local mob,
Barrier answered, "I don't have time to be scared. I pay such low rent
I keep my prices cheap and the customers just keep coming back, I'm too
busy to care about those scum bags. Anyway, I like that nickname: 'The
* The author is a former Clark County Regional Transportation
Commissioner, and is a consultant in a civil lawsuit against Frederick
* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas'
scandals, click here: mailto:SteveMiller4lv@aol.com?Subject=Add
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com