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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:

Police refuse to allow Barrier daughters to identify
their father on motel video surveillance tape

This case is considered an open and active case
at this point. - Lt. Dennis Domansky

The police told us that they are not investigating dad's
death as a homicide. So why can't we identify who
it was that checked in that night? - Jennifer Barrier

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 28, 2008

LAS VEGAS - He stood up to the city's new crime bosses, and he died a mysterious death. He was referred to as the "Outspoken enemy of the Mob" after he exposed that his next door neighbors at a politically influential strip club would routinely rough up customers to extort money while some police, the city, the DA, and several judges routinely looked the other way.

According to the Associated Press, James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier "fought very public battles against his landlord, former strip club owner Rick Rizzolo, and Rizzolo's club, Crazy Horse Too."

On Saturday, April 5, 2008, the former professional wrestler was found dead of an unknown cause in room 105 of a budget motel on the Boulder Highway. He was 55 years old.

"There is nothing to indicate that anything was amiss when he was renting that room. He was in no distress and appeared to be in good spirits," according to police Capt. Randy Montandon who viewed the four minute tape taken at the motel's check-in counter.

On the evening of his death, police asked Barrier's 15 year old daughter Jerrica to enter room 105 of the Motel 6 to identify her father before he was wheeled out on a gurney.

After seeing her father, Jerrica became hysterical and collapsed. EMT's were not summoned. Instead the girls report that officers told them that crying would not bring their father back.

Jerrica was accompanied only by her 20 year old sister Elise who, according to a police academy instructor who asked not be be identified, should have been the only family member asked  to identify the body. To expose a 15 year old child to such a traumatic experience is not acceptable police procedure according to the instructor.

Now, Barrier's four daughters want closure and they believe that being able to see their dad "in good spirits" on a video tape taken moments before his death will provide them minor solace.

But metro police have a different idea.

During the past three weeks since Barrier's death, assorted police detectives have three times invited the daughters to view the video, then rescinded their offer after the girls arrived at the police station. The most recent of these disappointing events took place on Friday, April 25 when 24 year old Jennifer Barrier received a call from police asking if the family could assemble at the West Oakey Boulevard sub station at 4:00 PM?

The family arrived to be informed that an attorney with the Clark County District Attorney's office had advised police to deny the family a viewing of the tape. When asked why, the detective only said, "I have no answer," according to Jessica Barrier, 26.

The police department's third refusal to show the tape inspired the family to file a records request based on the Nevada Public Records Act.
Jennifer Barrier

April 25, 2008

Via: email, fax, U.S. Postal Service


Dear Records Request Officer:

Pursuant to the state open records act, as a private citizen and daughter of the late James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier, I request the viewing of the video surveillance tape recovered from Motel 6, 4125 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas, NV, 89121 that shows James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier checking in on the evening or night of April 5, 2008. 

My family has been informed and it was heavily reported in the media that this case was investigated as a death, there is no ongoing investigation, therefore as a Nevada open record, the tape should be available for the family to view per the verbal agreement of Det. M. Harding that was later rescinded on April 24, 2008. 

I agree to pay reasonable duplication fees for the processing of this request.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act.

Thank you for your assistance.

Jennifer Barrier

NRS 239.0107  Requests for inspection or copying of public books or records: Actions by governmental entities.

      1.  Not later than the end of the fifth business day after the date on which the person who has legal custody or control of a public book or record of a governmental entity receives a written request from a person to inspect or copy the public book or record, a governmental entity shall do one of the following, as applicable:

      (a) Allow the person to inspect or copy the public book or record.

(d) If the governmental entity must deny the person's request to inspect or copy the public book or record because the public book or record, or a part thereof, is confidential, provide to the person, in writing:

             (1) Notice of that fact; and

             (2) A citation to the specific statute or other legal authority that makes the public book or record, or a part thereof, confidential.

Based on the above, Metro Police have until Friday, May 2, to cite the specific statute or legal authority to keep the tape confidential.

But this didn't discourage the Barrier daughters from going public with their concerns. Asking why a 15 year old would be allowed to see her father dead in a motel room, then asking why a tape of Buffalo Jim supposedly alive and well just before his death would not be allowed to be shown to his family at a time when they are desperately seeking some closure, Jennifer and Jessica Barrier appeared on the six o'clock, KVBC TV News on Friday, April 25, to try to let police know how important this case is to the community; generate public support; and keep the story of their father's death alive.

Las Vegas has become a very callous place of late with numerous stories of mysterious deaths aired nightly. In fact, our state has been named one of the most dangerous in the U.S. for five years in a row. So it's easy for one more mysterious death to meld in with the normally horrific stories local citizens are exposed to on a daily basis in Nevada's most populous place, a town rightly called "Sin City."

TRANSCRIPT OF KVBC TV News top story, April 25, 2008:

JENNIFER BARRIER: They said it was your dad on the tape, and I said 'that's fine.' But we need some closure in our life. We need to see our dad during his last moments. They stated he was 'full of life,' and I want to see the four minutes of his life. He was full of life? We have the right to see that. It's not treated as a homicide to them. We have the right to do this. At this point right now, I don' think it's him. They're giving us a run-around. They've been stalling us for three weeks now from seeing this tape. I don't think it's him.

JESSICA BARRIER: From day one I never thought it was him. From day one I thought it was somebody else. And by them not letting us view it, I believe more and more it's not him.

JENNIFER BARRIER: They're really sketchy right now. They're hiding something from us. They're not telling us anything. If they need to hold those tapes from us, that's fine. But why don't they tell us? They didn't even give us a courtesy call to tell us our appointments had been canceled. We get there and we're denied.

JESSICA BARRIER: At least if we were able to view it and say that is our father, we would have at least a little bit of closure. And another thing I don't understand is why they're not considering this a homicide? What about all the threat letters? He received one on the day he died.


Below is the letter Jessica was referring to:

Also, in November and December 2007, two restraining orders were issued against Bart Rizzolo for attempting to run Barrier down with his Range Rover.

But even this didn't inspire police to open a homicide investigation.

With several threatening letters in their files, two recent restraining orders, and medical records showing Barrier received a clean bill of health from his family physician the week before his death, police still consider Barrier's untimely death as being from natural causes.

Metro's response has done little to quell the public's uproar. Buffalo Jim Barrier was one of Las Vegas' best known colorful characters in addition to being a successful business owner and adoring single father. When his body was discovered on April 6, police officers told Barrier's two youngest daughters that they had never heard of him.

In spite of this, Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie has reportedly received inquiries about Barrier's death from a member of Congress, a Nevada University Regent, and the following email from a member of the Nevada Assembly.
April 24, 2008
Sheriff Gillespie,

I have been kept informed regarding the ongoing Jim Barrier case. The most recent notice told me about the police department's refusal to allow the Barrier family access to the Motel 6 video tape. I would appreciate you looking into this and seeing what can be done to help this family in this terrible time. If there is an investigative reason for not doing so, at the very least they should be told why. If not, then they should be given a copy of their father's last moments of life.

Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers

From: Dennis Domansky [mailto:--------@LVMPD.COM]
Sent: Fri 4/25/2008 3:44 PM
To: Beers, Bob Assemblyman
Subject: Jim Barrier Case

Assemblyman Beers, 

I am Sheriff Gillespie's Executive Lieutenant.  I have been asked to follow up on the e mail you sent regarding the Jim Barrier case.  I have spoken to Jim's daughter Jennifer and explained to her why we cannot release the video tape that she is requesting.  This case is considered an open and active case at this point.  She has my contact information if she needs any further assistance.
                                                                                                                                               Lieutenant Dennis Domansky

Thank you Lieutenant Domansky.

As long as this is an open case, I can understand the need for keeping things sealed. I would appreciate being kept in the loop and that the family is allowed a copy of this video as soon as possible. Is anyone at all checking into the threats issued from the Rizzolo associates?

Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers

Others tell a different story. Two local TV reporters told INSIDE VEGAS that police informed them that the tape would not be shown to the family until the results of the autopsy are released. This could take another six to ten weeks.

My questions are, why would police deny the family such a simple request, unless the person in "good spirits" checking into the motel was someone other than Buffalo Jim Barrier, or unless he was not alone?

And why did a fit man like Barrier check in to one of the motel's few handicapped accessible rooms, one with a handicapped parking space located directly in front?

But I'm not the only journalist asking police questions. Another local scribe told INSIDE VEGAS, "I spoke to Captain Montandon two days ago (Thursday) regarding this matter, I asked, 'Is Metro, at this time, actively investigating the case?' He said: 'We are not actively seeking out new witnesses or evidence.'  He went on to say that Metro is more than willing to receive any new witness or evidence, but is at this point just waiting for the toxicology results to come back."

A woman named "Lisa" was interviewed by police the week following Barrier's death according to the Las Vegas Sun. Coincidentally, a person named Lisa also twice called the Barrier home the night of the death asking if Buffalo Jim was OK? She also called his cell phone to ask the same question, and that's supposedly how police located her.

She reportedly told police that Barrier had a "seizure." If this is true, she left him in the motel room -- minus his driver's license and cash (except a one dollar bill stuffed in his wallet)  -- to die, without notifying a single soul.

With this revelation, can police still consider his death "natural?"

Had such an admission been made in California or New York where Depraved Indifference laws are in effect, "Lisa" would be behind bars for such an admission!

Are police satisfied with her explanation? And why did the Clark County District Attorney's office reverse Metro Police on their decision to show the family the tape? This is the same DA that dismissed the Kirk Henry case, a case that -- after the federal government took over -- eventually closed the Crazy Horse Too strip club and sent its purported owner Rick Rizzolo to prison.

It was Buffalo Jim Barrier who documented dozens of beatings and other crimes committed at the Crazy Horse drawing the wrath of its owners -- persons with deep La Cosa Nostra ties. Barrier was credited with the closure of the club, and he died one day following Rizzolo's release from prison.

And the police still say they aren't investigating Barrier's death as a homicide!

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Dominic John Rizzolo, 26, son of Rick Rizzolo, was arrested on March 26, 2008 for attempted extortion and attempted murder five weeks after a stabbing that occurred on January 21, 2008. He was released on his own recognizance based on the recommendation of a District Court Judge. (The judge's name has not yet been released.)
The victim on January 21, received a four inch deep life threatening puncture wound in his upper abdomen that required emergency surgery. He spent 2 days in intensive care followed by a two day hospitalization. The victim filed criminal charges saying the stabbing occurred during a scuffle after he refused to pay Rizzolo's demand of $20,000, and that Rizzolo allegedly pulled a switch blade and stabbed him. Rizzolo reportedly lost his shoe while running to his car after the stabbing. Police recovered the shoe as evidence.

INSIDE VEGAS was told by a source that Dominic Rizzolo lived at the Summerlin home of Rick Belcastro between January 21, and March 26, the day of his arrest. Belcastro is Rick Rizzolo's god son. It is not known whether Belcastro knew of the stabbing or knew that he was harboring a fugitive prior to Rizzolo's arrest.

Belcastro is the owner of the Bada Bing strip club that opened on April 24, 2008.
Dominic Rizzolo reportedly did not seek medical aid or file charges. However, his attorney is expected to claim at arraignment that his client acted in self defense.
The stabbing occurred at a private residence that, according to witnesses, Rizzolo drove to in an SUV with the license place covered by a T-shirt. Two persons were with him at the time but reportedly did not leave the vehicle.

Rizzolo is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, April 28, at 9 AM.

Dominic Rizzolo's grandfather Bart Rizzolo, 78, was the subject of two restraining orders issued in 2007 after he attempted to run down Buffalo Jim Barrier. Dominic's father Rick Rizzolo, 50, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor in 1989 for beating a man with a baseball bat. He did not serve jail time for that offense. The victim, Rick Sandlin, died three years later from complications caused by the beating.

Rick Rizzolo's criminal defense attorney in the above case was Oscar Goodman who is now serving his third term as mayor of Las Vegas. Dominic Rizzolo is being represented by Anthony Sgro who is a well known Goodman protégé.


In last week's INSIDE VEGAS, I erroneously wrote that I had received an email on Saturday, April 5, from someone related to an associate of Rick Rizzolo telling of Buffalo Jim Barrier's death.

The email was actually dated Sunday, April 6, the day Barrier's body was discovered.


A clarification is warranted based on the following email.
Subject: enough is enough 
Date: 4/22/2008 11:42:42 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time 

I read your "stories" occasionally and all they seem to do is aggravate me.  I am sorry for the untimely death of buffalo Jim and my heart goes out to his daughters especially since they are not able to get any closure right now.  But that is not the reason why I am writing.  It seems you have made it your life to write about all the men at the Crazy Horse as if you know them.  Now I could care less about the majority of them especially Rick Rizzolo, I agree that he is the scum of the earth and he deserves everything he gets.  But I am sick and tired of you smearing one of my good friends name through the mud.  First of all since you write everything as a fact you should know the correct spelling of his name it's Bobby D'Apice and he was a manager at the Crazy Horse not a bouncer ( I think he's a little too old to be a bouncer).  Now I understand freedom of the press but I also understand defamation of character and slander.  You have written that Bobby was Kirk Henry's "assailant" and that "he was the one who almost killed him", is that a FACT...... I don't think so, because if it was he would be in prison for attempted murder.  He has already been sentenced, charged with racketeering and is currently doing his time for his crime.  It's not up for debate anymore, he's not awaiting trial, and he is not guilty of the crimes you say he is, so stop lying.  Let me tell you something about Mr. D"Apice.... he is one of the kindest people I have the privilege of calling my friend.  He is an amazing and dedicated father, a loving husband, and one of the very few people who knows how to be a true friend.  I have literally seen him give the shirt off his back for someone who needed it, because he is such a giving person.  I know him to be someone who could never do what he was "ACCUSED" of doing especially over an 88$ bar tab, I mean come on now how ridiculous is that.  There was never even the slightest bit of proof surrounding that story and I myself know he was only used to get to Rick Rizzolo.  I would appreciate if you would write the FACTS not your OPINION, you and your friend John Smith give bad names to real journalists who write the facts and inform us. Isn't that what NEWS is?????  One more thing do yourself a favor don't be so ignorant as to stereotype Bobby because he is Italian.  You must be Irish. Does that make you an alcoholic or a lush, well it must....  Maybe you were drunk when you write your little STORIES. 

Also in last week's INSIDE VEGAS, I incorrectly identified Robert D'Apice as a bouncer at the Crazy Horse Too. He was a manager.

I also stated that he had assaulted Kirk Henry.

Mr. D'Apice according to the U.S. Department of Justice was only convicted of "extorting moneys from patrons at the Crazy Horse Too strip club in Las Vegas through force and violence."

Robert D'Apice was never convicted of specifically assaulting Mr. Henry.

INSIDE VEGAS corrects mistakes. If you find an error, please let us know @

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