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: http://www.SteveMiller4LasVegas.com
Rizzolo's Going Away Party Backfires
Buffalo Jim's Harassment Lawsuit may be reopened
VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 21, 2007
LAS VEGAS - Last month's festive Going
Away Party held in Newport Beach revealed that convicted racketeer Rick
Rizzolo and his lawyer Tony Sgro have a sense of humor. But it
also revealed that the federal court has no funny bone after Judge
Philip Pro considered the party a reason for denying Sgro's motion to
keep his biggest client out of prison.
But that was not Sgro's only recent court motion that may come back to
slap him in the face. Another motion that temporarily caused the
of the harassment
lawsuit brought by Rizzolo's next door neighbor Buffalo
Jim Barrier is back in the spotlight. It may soon be
based on Sgro's own damning words. More on that later.
But first, the party.
The very private event attended by hundreds of Sin
City and Orange County movers and shakers including Jerry
Tarkanian, the husband of LV City
Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, was not intended to attract prying eyes.
But despite hosts Rick Rizzolo and Freddie Glusman's best efforts,
INSIDE VEGAS was there.
Just when it looked like Rizzolo's lawyers were about to
get him a reprieve from having to turn himself in at the gate of Taft
Federal Prison this Tuesday, Rizzolo's own sense of humor got in
Two days before the party, Sgro filed a motion with Judge
Pro asking that his client be allowed to remain free until a
purported deal to sell his Crazy Horse Too topless club goes through.
meantime, Rizzolo told everyone he knows that his lawyer fixed it so he
would not have to go to prison, hence the faux Farewell Party.
Sgro's motion backfired when
Federal Prosecutors learned of the party in the May
of INSIDE VEGAS.
Of course, no one actually knows if
or when the sale of Rizzolo's Crazy
Too strip bar will ever happen since Police Special Investigations
officers told the city council that the purported buyer, a twice
bankrupt guy named Mike Signorelli, can't
prove he has
the money to match his offer of $45 million dollars. They also told the
council that Rizzolo
was still in charge of the daily operation of the club despite orders
from the council and federal court to stay away.
So it looked like Sgro's motion to let his client stay on the street
until his club is sold was intended to be a permanent stay out of jail
pass, but the judge didn't fall for it.
Two experts say the club is worth no more that $21 million
including the land and building, and the Nevada Dept. of Transportation
to take a 23 foot deep slice of its' frontage for a road
widening. Business has dropped to a trickle of what it once was
now that the place is being closely watched by the Feds and people
can't be drugged or beaten into signing inflated credit card tabs.
Also, the semen
stained velvet seats that once served as a bordello in the VIP room
have been shut down along with the limos parked behind the club that
were mobile bed rooms. This means that Signorelli's $45 million dollar
offer is pure fantasy
-- a ploy to keep Rizzolo out of jail, and to delay him having to pay
off his court ordered debts.
But that didn't deter the city council from their political obligation to
grant the permanent liquor license! They obediently voted unanimously
to let the troubled
business stay open after 16 of its employees pleaded guilty to charges
including racketeering, and after their own city attorney and police
told them Rizzolo is still in charge. Voting with the majority was the
pal and Newport Beach party goer former UNLV basketball coach Jerry
Tarkanian. Despite saying otherwise, Councilwoman Tarkanian voted to
give Rizzolo et. al. a permanent liquor
license after previously voting to shut
the bloody place down.
Both her votes were used as reasons in Sgro's motion to let Rizzolo
stay on the street:
And had the judge granted the extension, I'm sure additional extension
requests would follow because Signorelli is suspected of being only a
straw man, and he obviously does not have the financial ability to
close the deal.
But the most interesting part of Sgro's motion is this sentence -- a
sentence that includes way too much information to be of benefit to his
Hello Mr. Sgro! Did you have
wax in your ears when Judge Pro ruled that Rizzolo could not step foot
on his property and must remain
out of the adult entertainment industry for the rest of his life? When
did the judge say your client could have an ongoing business that
included the profit? Hello!
Sgro inadvertently revealed in the above sentence that Rizzolo never
relinquished his interest in or control of the club -- the main
conditions of the plea agreement imposed by Judge Pro. Sgro's careless
words did the opposite
of what he intended and sent his client to the slammer on Tuesday with
After the fun party, and with false confidence he was not going to have
spend a long hot summer watching Jerry Springer in the prison TV room,
Rizzolo resumed his clandestine day to day operation of the
Crazy Horse Too -- probably skimming the cash while Signorelli claimed
to barely be making payroll. In the meantime, the city council timidly
the other way.
Rizzolo may have been able to keep this scam going for years saying he
was just about to sell his club and dangling beating
victim Kirk Henry in front of the judge and council members like a
carrot, but then he threw that party and his plan to stay out of prison
soon fell apart.
The council seems to be having a love affair with Rizzolo and his
At the hearing that granted Signorelli a permanent liquor license,
Councilman Steve Wolfson said Signorelli has "an unblemished financial
record" after receiving copies of court documents from his two
bankruptcies. It was also mentioned that the only way quadriplegic Kirk
Henry could be paid was if the club was sold. But no mention was made
of liquidating Rizzolo's personal assets that would more than cover the
$9 million he still owes the Henry family.
Here's the Fed's response to
Sgro's motion to keep Rizzolo on the street, and their thoughts on the
ill-timed Farewell Party:
After reading Myhre's response, Judge Pro
immediately denied Sgro's motion, and sent Rizzolo to pack his bags (gray sweats, white
socks, white underware/boxers, white t-shirt, white or mostly black
shoes not worth over $100, a watch not worth over $100, and a necklace
with a religious item attached not worth over $100 according to a
recently released Taft inmate.)
But Judge Pro's denial may be the beginning of the end of Rizzolo's
personal fortune. If Judge Pro stays on course, the transfer
of most of Rick Rizzolo's personal assets to his ex wife just weeks
before his 2005 indictment can be reversed. Rizzolo has over $17
million in personal obligations that are supposed to be paid by June 30 through
the sale of the Crazy Horse. If they are not paid by then,
both Judge Pro and the city council have vowed to place a receiver in
the business to supervise liquidation.
I don't expect much from the city council, but Judge Pro's actions are
less predictable. He doesn't have to answer to Mayor Oscar Goodman who
attorney, or answer to Goodman's
law partners who are well known political fund raisers and pals of
US Senator Harry Reid -- someone else who pulls financial strings
around election time.
Auctioning off the Crazy Horse is not all that the federal court can
impose on June 30. Since the
transfer of assets (another brilliant idea of Tony Sgro) occurred
during the federal investigation, and since Lisa Rizzolo was married to
Rick at the time of the damages, in a
community property state like Nevada, his trust funds,
cash, homes, cars, stocks, and bonds can be seized from Lisa to pay their court ordered
obligations including Kirk Henry's past due medical bills, taxes,
penalties, and fines.
Henry has yet to receive one cent of Rick or Lisa Rizzolo's
personal fortune causing me to question why Henry's attorneys Donald
Campbell and Stan Hunterton have not yet filed motions in Federal Court
to force liquidation? Maybe they're waiting until June 30 to see if
Judge Pro or the city council orders sale of the Crazy Horse Too to a qualified buyer?
If the Judge so chooses, the Rizzolo's assets can be seized and
while he sits watching Springer during his twelve months and one
day stay at Taft.
not the only setback this week suffered by the firm of Patti & Sgro
Another motion to benefit their main client also looks like its about
to backfire on the prestigious mob
Buffalo Jim Barrier
and his buffalo in Helldorado Parade, May 19, 2007
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Mike Christ)
On Thursday, Clark
County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez
temporarily re-opened Buffalo Jim Barrier's harassment law suit against
Judge Gonzalez heard arguments from
Barrier's attorney Kim Price with the Flangas McMillan Law Group
from a lawyer with Patti & Sgro.
I'm sorry I can't identify Rizzolo's attorney because he mumbled
incoherently when the judge asked him to identify himself, however he
was a middle
aged man with bushy gray hair wearing a wrinkled suit.
Attorney Price explained that
harassment law suit
should never have been dismissed based on the
five-year-rule because the Federal Government had placed at least three
stays on the case that prevented discovery and
stopped the taking of Rick Rizzolo's deposition on at least three
Rizzolo's disheveled attorney mumbled
stays were not official federal orders, and were not mentioned in
Barrier's recent motion for reconsideration.
He then mumbled, "The stay is not
in this court's record," saying the dismissal should stand.
Despite his words, several other
from Patti & Sgro previously used the stays to
stall Barrier's case pending Rizzolo's trial for racketeering and
tax evasion. They had also used the stays and claims of Rizzolo's
ill health to argue against their 48 year old client being deposed.
Judge Gonzalez asked attorneys for
both sides to calculate how many years the stays set the case back, and
if it can be proven the stays were actually in place. She ended the
hearing with the door open for the case to be reinstated.
Mr. Price has until May 23 to submit a
brief stating the date the stay first went into effect, and when the
stays were released. Patti & Sgro have until May 30 to answer Mr.
Price's brief and argue why the stays should not affect the
five-year-rule that triggered the dismissal of Barrier's lawsuit.
If Judge Gonzalez allows the case to
continue, another lawsuit will also be resurrected. Rizzolo sued
Barrier for defamation in 2002 for his public statements that Rizzolo
was engaged in racketeering. Since then, Rizzolo pleaded guilty to
racketeering so this element of the lawsuit is expected to be summarily
dismissed in the event the two cases proceed to trial.
The irony is that it was Rizzolo's
of Patti & Sgro who first advised the court that there is a Federal
Order estopping the
case back on December 15, 2004 (see below).
(Excerpts from the Court
advised there is a Federal Order estopping and it is expected
will be in U.S. Court
next year. Also, his client is very ill and in
hospital. Mr. Flangas confirmed that the Federal order has kept them
doing discovery. He
requested a six month status check.
Rizzolo, attorney John Norheim, Rick Rizzolo
(AmericanMafia.com photo by Buffalo Jim Barrier)
Then on March 20, 2006,
for Barrier and Rizzolo brought up two Federal holds and
requested the matter be continued.
Copyright © Steve Miller
|03/20/06: Both counsel confirmed there
two Federal holds and requested the matter
COURT SO ORDERED, CONTINUED to 9/18/06.
Then once again, on November 13,
2006, attorneys for Barrier and Rizzolo both told the court that stays
were preventing discovery.
|11/13/2006: Re Status
Check: Set New
N-J Trial Date: COURT NOTED that no
discovery has yet
been done because of all the stays and Mr. Rizzolo's health. COURT
about the five-year rule. Both counsel stated that the exact date
not known at this date because of the many past stays.
it suited their needs last week, Rizzolo's attorney tried to convince
that stays were never a factor in this case and Barrier's attorneys
simply let the case expire. But when his law firm
needed to stall the case to keep their client from being asked
embarrassing questions during a deposition,
Patti & Sgro
effectively argued that stays were
definitely in effect, and discovery is not permitted during stayed
You can't have it both ways.
Gonzalez has scheduled a hearing on May 31 to give her decision as to
whether BARRIER v. RIZZOLO will be reinstated.
Since the case was dismissed on May 4,
several acts of vandalism similar to the acts that inspired the
harassment lawsuit have been reported. Vehicles owned by customers of
Barrier's Allstate Auto and Marine have been keyed or had their windows
broken while waiting for repairs outside his shop.
But as soon as Judge
Gonzalez indicated she may reopen the case, the
These actions further affirm that a vindictive
Rick Rizzolo is still in charge of the Crazy Horse.
After Thursday's hearing, Barrier's attorneys showed renewed energy and
look forward to using Patti & Sgro's own words to prove their case
was stayed, and also look forward to deposing the elusive Rizzolo.
"This time he'll be easy to
access," said attorney Gus Flangas, "He can't duck a deposition when
he's sitting in prison."
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