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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:

Another strip club beating goes unpunished
Thugs hire City Councilman as their lawyer.
Mayor's lawyer-son hired by strip club.
Police request prosecution, but DA
refuses to cooperate -- again!

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 11, 2009

On the night of June 22, 2007, businessman Michael Grasso was severely beaten inside Treasures Gentleman's Club.

The four perpetrators were professional fighters and trainers who had been 86'ed from the Las Vegas strip club several times in the months prior to attacking Grasso. Seriously injured, Grasso was taken to Sunrise Hospital where he was treated for injuries including a broken back, rib, and nose.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger refused police requests to prosecute the assailants.

Sound familiar? Kansas tourist Kirk Henry was crippled at another strip club years earlier, and the same District Attorney refused to prosecute the assailant who was a club employee. In Henry's case, the FBI had to intervene after David Roger threw out the case.

                                                   Treasures Gentleman's Club, Las Vegas

In the most recent case, the accused thugs were Jason Overton, his brother Keith Overton, and two others only identified in police reports as John and Joey. After being informed they may be subject to prosecution, the Overtons hired Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Wolfson as their criminal defense attorney. (It's suspected that Treasures is paying for Wolfson's services.)

Because Treasures is represented by attorney Ross Goodman who is the son of LV Mayor Oscar Goodman, and because a councilman was hired to defend the suspects, speculation arose that the perpetuators would go unpunished, and the club would be held unaccountable for shirking its responsibility to provide a safe atmosphere for patrons.

Two years later, that speculation proved to be completely accurate.

Treasures holds a Privileged Business License overseen by the Mayor and his City Council. In 2004, I wrote an INSIDE VEGAS column about Treasures having a run-in with the City. The club began doing business with the Goodman Law Group, and the problems immediately went away. Some said the arrangement resembled a shake down.

Following receipt of an 83 page Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department DECLARATION OF WARRANT/SUMMONS regarding Grasso's attack, DA Roger continued his pattern when crimes involve politically connected strip clubs. Roger closed the Grasso case even though his assailants were professional kick boxers capable of causing fatal injuries.

Roger has long been known for taking political campaign contributions from the adult industry, then looking the other way when contributors or their relatives are accused of crimes.

Roger's arbitrary and capricious decisions regarding who to prosecute -- and who to not, became fodder for local news stories.

 DA David Roger (LV Review-Journal), Mayor Goodman shaking hands with Councilman Wolfson

This was not the first time Roger ignored police requests to prosecute persons involved with local strip clubs. In 2003, Metro asked him to prosecute the Crazy Horse Too bouncer who crippled Kirk Henry in September 2001. Roger refused.

On September 13, 2008, Ralph Rizzolo, brother of convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo, allegedly tried to commit suicide by crashing a Mercedes at high speed into the shuttered Crazy Horse Too building. At the time, the building was under forfeiture by the United States of America, and Rizzolo did substantial damage that had to be repaired at taxpayer's expense. Even though Rizzolo was found to be driving under the influence, and damaged public property, David Roger did not feel the need to prosecute.

In January 2009, police requested that Roger vigorously prosecute Rick Rizzolo's son Dominic for stabbing a man during an extortion attempt. Again, DA Roger refused and Dominic got off with probation in Judge Jackie Glass's District Court. (Judge Glass is Steve Wolfson's wife.)

It's not as if the evidence or probable cause was not there. In three of these cases, innocent victims suffered serious injuries. But a pattern has developed showing that if perpetuators were somehow involved with the strip clubs that donated to his campaigns, Roger would let them off.

In the case of Michael Galardi, the former owner of several strip clubs that donated to Roger's campaigns, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Galardi accused Roger of accepting $20,000 in unreported cash, though Roger steadfastly denied the accusation.

Roger's three past actions speak louder than words when it comes to ignoring violent incidents involving his strip club benefactors, and innocent locals and tourists have paid dearly for his favoritism.

Michael Grasso (shown in hospital photo) is a 46 year old man weighing 150 pounds. According to a police statement, he was punched in the face by one of four men standing near him at the bar while he was drinking a bottled water and talking to dancer Lorena Griffin.

According to Griffin's statement, she told him the four men were talking about him and suggested they move away. She said Grasso responded, "Why should we move? I'm not doing anything wrong." He was then punched in the face by one of the men and knocked unconscious. He told police he didn't see the punch coming, and woke up on the floor with Treasures personnel trying to revive him.

Grasso was taken to the men's room by a club employee to tend to a cut over his eye. There, he was informed that the four men were thrown out of the club and it would be safe for him to return to the bar to get a cold compress to place over his wound.

Unbeknownst to Grasso or the employees assisting him, other Treasures employees had allowed the four men to return inside the club.

Seconds after leaving the men's room, the four men attacked Grasso knocking him to the floor and repeatedly kicking him. According to a Treasures security officer, club employees reportedly intervened but were unable to stop the beating until Grasso was severely injured,  Another witness said Grasso was seconds away from being killed if the four men had not been pulled away.

Asked why the four assailants were allowed back into the club, Treasures' general manager Alson Lee told INSIDE VEGAS that Grasso was intoxicated and acting "obnoxious." He said Grasso started both "fights," and was exploiting the incident to try to force the club to pay him millions of dollars.

Toxicology reports indicate Grasso had no alcohol or drugs in his system when he was admitted to Sunrise hospital.

According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Voluntary Statement of Treasures security officer Garrett Millick: "...I know that from what other people said that the four gentlemen work for some sort of fighting, training, boxing clinic of some sort. The four men have been in and out of here for a long time. When they come in, they always buy dinner. They're usually well behaved up until they start drinking, and that's usually when they get mouthy and a little bit edgy -  they're anger is easily excited. That's usually when we ask them to leave."

Treasures employees who asked to remain anonymous told INSIDE VEGAS that the four men were known as big spenders, and were mostly left alone by club management as long as they were throwing cash around.

Millick's statement continued: "They'd had problems with us months ago and were asked not to come back for some time. They didn't come back for three months. Then they returned and apologized. They were well behaved for several weeks but had another incident where they were asked to not do something. They told the management basically they could do whatever they wanted inside the club. They were asked to leave again, and they apologized again for their actions, and it was this particular night that they came back in and this happened."

"We tried to get rid of them several times. I don't know if they'd been friends of somebody in particular, or what had happened, but we repeatedly attempted to get rid of them, and them not come in. The information wasn't spread around enough to all of our staff. 'Hey, don't let these guys in!' It's now obvious that these guys shouldn't be coming in there. They're bad news," concluded Millick.

After reviewing the 83 pages of sworn statements and police reports, in June 2007, DA David Roger dropped the case. When Grasso learned of Roger's decision, he hired an attorney and filed a civil lawsuit

Twenty months after Grasso's beating, management at Treasures gave an entirely different account of what happened.

On February 9, 2008, Treasures Director of Marketing Justin Butler wrote an email stating: "The individual that was beaten up instigated a fight because of what he was saying to the other four men. They warned him several times to leave them alone, however he insisted on continuing. Because of this, a fight ensued and our staff intervened immediately. One of our hosts was even kicked in the ribs while trying to protect this guy. When it was calmed down, both parties were escorted out of the building through different exits in an attempt to avoid another fight. Unfortunately, this guy ran around the building and started talking more mess to the other guys so they attacked him again. The club offered to cover the medical bills. However when this offer was made the injuries all of a sudden became to the point he tried to say he could never work again and that he was suing the club."

Justin Butler and Alson Lee's use of the word "fight" is highly debatable. Four professional fighters in their twenties, each weighing in excess of 180 pounds, kicking a 150 pound middle aged man until his ribs and back are fractured does not describe a "fight" in my vocabulary.

Grasso's civil lawsuit names the four men and Treasures as defendants. However, he's finding it almost impossible to gain traction in the local court system especially when esteemed attorneys Wolfson and Goodman are expected to tell the court that the District Attorney found no evidence to prosecute the four men.

Another blow to Grasso's case is that the video tapes of the incident could not be located though Treasures has video surveillance cameras mounted throughout the interior and exterior of the building. In the meantime, Grasso's medical bills go unpaid and he's on constant pain medication. Physicians are recommending he undergo complex back surgery.

In Kirk Henry's case, he was beaten outside another Vegas strip club in 2001, resulting in permanent quadriplegia. Unlike Grasso's case, Henry's assailant was a club employee. District Attorney David Roger refused to prosecute Henry's assailant or the strip club, and the club's owner refused to pay his medical expenses. Henry had no other option but to file a civil lawsuit in state court against the now-defunct Crazy Horse Too and its former owner Rick Rizzolo. District Court Judge Jackie Glass was assigned the case. By coincidence, she is the wife of Steve Wolfson, the same city councilman/criminal defense attorney now representing the thugs in the Grasso beating case.

So far, Judge Glass has stalled all of Henry's efforts in state court thereby forcing his attorneys to seek justice in the U.S. Federal Court system where his case is slowly moving forward. Grasso's case has yet to be assigned a judge, but because Wolfson is involved, Judge Glass is ruled out. In the meantime, Glass' husband is rumored to be exploring the possibilities of running for Mayor in 2011, and savvy local politicians know to solicit cash contributions from strip clubs as their first order of business in a campaign.

David Roger is expected to run for higher office based on him throwing the book at defendants in high profile nationally televised cases. Roger vigorously prosecuted O.J. Simpson and Charles Barkley, two cases in which no one was injured. The Simpson case was coincidentally tried by Judge Glass, another ambitious politician rumored to be interested in a seat on the state Supreme Court. Roger also recently threw the book at a gambler who stiffed a local casino $14 million -- again, no one was injured, but the casino is a big political campaign contributor. However, when it comes to those who commit violent crimes involving certain strip clubs, Roger consistently finds inadequate or unsubstantiated criminal evidence causing the cases to be considered damaged goods before they reach the civil courts.

Las Vegas like most tourist destinations is suffering during this recession. Instead, we should take advantage of the slow times to do everything in our power to clean house so we can attract new business and tourism during and after the downturn. This includes insuring a safe atmosphere for patrons of "Sin City's" many adult cabarets.

LATE BREAKING DEVELOPMENT: Insiders in the strip club industry speculate that the brothers involved in the above story are paid by competing club owners to cause disruptions in targeted adult business. However, there is no excuse for allowing the trouble makers to time and again re-enter a business after they were barred.

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