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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:

The Last Hours of the Crazy Horse Too
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams -- and Necks

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 18, 2005

LAS VEGAS - Industrial Road was once a peaceful avenue lined with warehouses and hard hat bars. Located half a mile from the Strip, the obscure road in the early 1980s became the location of most of the city's topless clubs, and problems soon began. Now thanks to one of those clubs, Industrial Road is about to become Sin City's version of the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
   Plans for Las Vegas expansion and new club in Philadelphia threatened by FBI-IRS probe

The most notorious bar on Industrial Road is the Crazy Horse Too, a "gentleman's club" with big plans* and even bigger problems. Plans once included tearing down the existing converted warehouse and replacing it with a $50 million dollar palace, and to open an extension of the infamous club in Philadelphia, PA. Such grandiose plans require big bucks and political clout, but the Horse's frightening  method of making money and manipulating public officials has drawn the ire of the FBI and IRS.

You name it -- prostitution, drug trafficking, beating up and stealing money from customers, hiding cash from the IRS and even giving kickbacks to cabbies -- and it is reported to have taken place at the Crazy Horse. -- Jeff German, Las Vegas SUN, April 13, 2005

After leaving a trail of blood all the way to the bank, the "Coming Soon" part of the club's Vegas and Philadelphia dreams has been torn apart by the upcoming indictment of its owners and the anticipated closing of their Industrial Road money factory. Officials in the Keystone state are likely paying attention causing speculation the Philadelphia Crazy Horse will never open.

The Gold Club in Atlanta is an example of a similar enterprise that drew the ire of the feds. They imprisoned its owner Steve Kaplan and confiscated his building. In "Operation Crazy Horse," the feds main goal is the same according to sources within the investigation, but it may also encompass a far reaching probe into Las Vegas' incestuous political, law enforcement, and judiciary clique.

Ironically, millions paid in cash to local cabbies, doormen, concierges, and limo drivers who divert customers from other clubs could be the straw that breaks the Horse's back. Where did the cash come from and was it reported? Was it part of a money laundering scheme?

For years the Crazy Horse has paid off people who tell tourists that competitive clubs are closed or have become gay bars. $25 per head or more is paid for each diverted taxi or limo passenger. After the patrons enter the bar, an employee hands the driver a cash payoff for each customer, and over the years no one knows how much has been spent this way. Rizzolo, a source says, stated he paid around $5 million in cash to cabbies in 2004.

Of course there were many more heinous crimes allegedly committed at the Crazy Horse including the beating death of Scott Fau and the crippling of Kirk Henry and Rick Sandlin (sp). Because these cases were never prosecuted, the feds may be inspired to drag in past and present Clark County District Attorneys, the former Sheriff, and at least one local Judge. The lack of prosecution also may bring on charges of political corruption that could spread statewide. But don't forget that simple income tax evasion was all it took to put away Al Capone even though he was also accused of committing much more serious crimes.

In the middle of this mess is Rick Rizzolo who for years has been suspected of fronting for the mob, possibly New York's Bonanno crime family. Others are suspected of having hidden ownership in the bar as well.

Rizzolo, according to the SUN, may be contemplating a deal to save his brother, sister, and father from being included in the federal prosecution. Sources tell me such a deal would require him pleading guilty to tax evasion, paying back taxes and a fine, naming his alleged silent partners; stooges in the DA's office; Police Department; and City Hall, in addition to forfeiting the club and spending a few years in prison.

Much of the evidence gathered by the feds was reportedly obtained through wiretaps and bugs, some allegedly placed at tables in plush Las Vegas and Newport Beach restaurants owned by Fred Glusman. Its not yet known whether Glusman cooperated in placing the bugs.
Here are some of the players in this story:   (Photos by Mike Christ, KVBC TV News, LV Sun, LV Review-Journal)
Annette, Ralph and Bart Rizzolo    Attorney Tony Sgro, Vinnie Faraci, Bart Rizzolo         Joey Cusumano and Oscar Goodman

 Mayor Oscar Goodman and Crazy Horse PR man Tom Letizia        Rick Rizzolo and Al Rapuano                 Rolando Larraz

  Oscar Goodman and Mike McDonald                   Former DA Stewart Bell                   DA David Roger        Judge Nancy Saitta

I began writing about violence at the Crazy Horse in 1999. I wrote for what was then a fearless but struggling weekly newspaper called the Las Vegas Tribune. My factual front page stories and shocking columns about the bloodshed built the paper's circulation to over 40,000, but in January 2001,
Rick Rizzolo filed a baseless defamation lawsuit against the paper and myself (dismissed in 2003). Undaunted, on October 3, 2001, I scooped the two daily papers by writing the first story about the assault on Kirk Henry that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic. Rizzolo's attorneys immediately filed a Motion for a Gag Order against me in the court of a friendly judge.
Monday, April 11, 2005                                                                       
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
In this Nov. 13, 2001, file photo, attorney Tony Sgro,   

left, argues in favor of a gag order against former
City Councilman Steve Miller and the Las Vegas
Tribune. At right are attorneys Dowon Kang, Chris
Rasmussen and Gus Flangas, who opposed the
Photo by
Gary Thompson.                                                
I was deeply insulted by this unconstitutional action, and because it was happening in the court of a judge I believe prejudiced the outcome of the Fau case as a favor to her biggest campaign contributor (Rizzolo), I decided to skip the hearing and instead write a front page story designed to violate any gag order Judge Nancy M. Saitta might issue. However, I didn't get the chance because Review-Journal editor Tom Mitchell along with his attorneys and the attorneys for the ACLU surprisingly showed up in the courtroom gallery. With them watching, the judge obviously had no choice but to uphold the First Amendment.

Following the failed effort to shut me up, I felt even more compelled to write Tribune articles about violence at the Crazy Horse and the incestuous behavior of local public officials. But another obstacle was thrust in my path.

Tribune publisher Rolando Larraz for over three years had completely supported and collaborated in my stories. Then, all of a sudden in November 2002, he asked me to stop writing about the Crazy Horse! He explained that two of his "closest friends," Fred Doumani and Joey Cusumano, were "loaning" him money to keep the paper afloat, and both had close ties to the club. He asked me as a personal favor to please avoid offending them. Unfortunately the violence and political corruption continued, so as a journalist I felt compelled to persist with my reports hoping they would force the mayor to take action against the bar's liquor license before anyone else was beaten or killed.

I was distressed when a story I wrote about violations of the Alcohol Awareness Law was excluded from the next edition of the Tribune along with my weekly column that told of court affidavits accusing the Crazy Horse of prostitution and drug sales. Immediately, Larraz began bragging that he "fired Steve Miller" though he never did so to my face. During the same week, Rick Rizzolo's father Bart reportedly boasted "We silenced Steve Miller!"  The next edition of the Tribune featured an amazing editorial gushing praise on Rizzolo, Doumani, Judge Saitta, Mayor Goodman, Councilman Mike McDonald, and Cusumano while apologizing for all my stories claiming I had "brainwashed" Larraz.

Fortunately, I was simultaneously writing for, so in order to keep the locals informed of the burgeoning Crazy Horse story, a friend started hand delivering thousands of  photocopies of every INSIDE VEGAS column on the subject. Without their exclusive exposé, the Tribune's circulation soon fell to a trickle while the free printouts became sought after at the Courthouse, Police Department, City Hall, and Federal Building. The bragged about "silence" became a deafening roar - so much so that the mayor was heard saying "I'd like to throw Steve Miller out the tenth floor window of City Hall!"

To my detractor's dismay, the Crazy Horse story could not be subjugated by simply calling in a marker or two from a desperate publisher. The Tribune's former top story had already sprouted wings and caught the attention of the national press while helping inspire a federal investigation.

Rizzolo's empire began to crumble.

Even with the skilled public relations help of Fred Glusman's son-in-law Tom Letizia who doubles as Goodman's campaign advisor and fund raiser, Rizzolo's reputation began to fall apart. Once referred to as a "Pillar of the community" by City Councilman Mike McDonald, and once described as having "a good name in the community" by Judge Saitta, Rizzolo was now being referred to as a "person of ill repute" by Clark County Sheriff Bill Young. Rizzolo's erstwhile friends, especially in government, reportedly began avoiding him in public. The only people who still cater to him are the bosses in casinos where he maintains a million dollar line of credit.

           Sheriff Young

The feds opened a giant can of worms. Why had the Crazy Horse been allowed to operate illegally for so long? Who in local government and who in local law enforcement was protecting the place? Because newly elected Sheriff Young seems to have inadvertently inherited an embarrassing small group of corrupt cops from his predecessor, he now appears eager to clean out his department. (I'm told he should start with the SouthWest Command.)

Since the FBI and IRS stepped in, inquiries have been made about the relationship of Mayor Goodman and Mike McDonald to Joey Cusumano, Goodman's former law client who is a suspected hidden owner in the club and a member of Nevada's Black Book of undesirables. And about Goodman's relationship to Al Rapuano and Rocco Lombardo, both bosses at the Crazy Horse? Rapuano, a former Goodman client, was fired by a casino when they learned he had connections to organized crime, and Rocco is the brother of Joey "the clown" Lombardo, the reported underboss of the Chicago mob and also a former Goodman client.

Questions were also asked about Goodman's law partner David Chesnoff who is currently representing ex-Crazy Horse shift boss Vinnie Faraci, the son of Bonanno crime family capo "Johnny Green" Faraci, and whether their attorney-client relationship may someday profit Goodman or his criminal defense attorney sons who may take on other Crazy Horse defendants?

Some observers speculate that Mayor Oscar B. Goodman  has intentionally kept the Crazy Horse open this long so that his law firm could milk the Horse's defendants dry. Though he states otherwise, he still remains deeply involved with the firm as is indicated by this current Yellow Page advertisement:

Last week, Goodman's business partner may have obstructed justice by stopping Faraci from answering questions during a deposition in Kirk Henry's attempted murder lawsuit against Rizzolo and the Crazy Horse. Chesnoff's action inspired Discovery Commissioner Thomas Biggar to threaten a bench warrant to force Faraci to answer questions.

The Brooklyn native is a registered felon with a 1985 mail fraud conviction. An incident in which he was named but not prosecuted in 1985 involved the alleged ball bat beating of a Crazy Horse Too customer.  -- John L. Smith, LV Review-Journal, August 8, 2004

For some reason, Vinnie recently made plans to move to Mexico, therefore he sold his 4,255 square foot, million dollar Vegas crib. To make the sale and reap a hefty commission, Faraci hired none other than Dave Radcliffe, a Metro Police officer who moonlights as a real estate agent. Am I surprised at the fact that a local cop has such a cozy relationship with a felon connected to the Crazy Horse? Not in Sin City! Maybe its these kinds of relationships that caused the new Sheriff to make his "person of ill repute" remark about Rizzolo who was Vinnie's former boss (or stooge)?

Strangely, former Sheriff Jerry Keller never questioned such relationships happening on his watch. Now he works for Steve Wynn as head of security.

 ex-Sheriff Keller

Questions like these gained new meaning after Kirk Henry was paralyzed. Following extensive local and national news reports on the assault, Mayor Goodman repeatedly refused to bring the Crazy Horse up on a license revocation action. However, within a year he jumped at the chance to fine its closest competitor $1.1 million, and completely shut down another competitor while violence continued unabated at the Horse.

Inquiries were made about Rizzolo's $40,000 contributions to the 2003 political campaigns of David Roger for DA and Goodman for Mayor (He ran unopposed). And why DA Roger or his predecessors Stewart Bell and Rex Bell (no relation) never filed criminal charges against club employees for allegedly crippling Henry and Sandlin (sp) or killing Fau

Kirk Henry's 12-year-old son, Jared, checks his father's
blood pressure Friday morning after
Henry felt light-
headed. Since his neck was
broken, problems with
low blood pressure
have threatened Henry's life

It was outgoing DA Stewart Bell who told a TV audience in 2002 that he found "probable cause" to prosecute Henry's assailant, but since he was about to leave the DA's office and be sworn in as a District Court Judge, he said he would leave it up to his successor, incoming DA David Roger, to decide whether to proceed with the prosecution.

Immediately after being sworn in, Roger dropped all cases against the Crazy Horse Too.

Before being elected DA, Stewart Bell in 1987 represented Rizzolo in a civil case based on the alleged kidnapping and baseball bat beating of Sandlin (sp). Rex Bell was DA at the time. Rizzolo was exonerated though Sandlin (sp) later died of his injuries.

There are just too many unanswered questions, questions that should have been asked years ago by local authorities before the feds had to step in. Consequently the clock is now counting down the hours and minutes left for Rizzolo to come clean or reportedly risk the prosecution of his family at the hands of the US Attorney.

Depending on if and when Rick Rizzolo cuts a deal, and depending on if he identifies accomplices, the end of the bloody Crazy Horse trail may be in sight. Then The Boulevard of Broken Dreams may again be peaceful.

*Links to corroborating stories have been provided to assist in research on this subject.

* 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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