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
The Ultimate Revenge
"Dear Mr. Gentlemen:" --
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 13, 2005
leases billboard over Crazy Horse Too
LAS VEGAS -
How would you like to arrive one morning to find workers installing
your worst enemy's giant billboard directly over your place of
business? That's exactly what happened last week to embattled Crazy Horse Too strip club
owner Rick Rizzolo.
Ali and Hassan Davari
Rizzolo, who is awaiting federal indictment
for racketeering and income tax evasion, leases a 4 by 4 foot
concrete pad on the south
side of his building to Clear Channel Outdoor, one of the nation's
largest multimedia companies. The pad is the foundation for a pole
supporting two billboards that protrude into the airspace directly over
his topless bar.
Clear Channel pays Rizzolo several thousand dollars per month for the
pad, then leases the 12 by 48 foot brightly illuminated faces to
prominent advertisers. Crazy Horse competitor, Treasures Gentleman's
Club, is one of their prominent clients, and I've been told that brothers Ali and Hassan Davari, the
owners of "Treasures," leased the space on a long term contract.
Clear Channel's leases usually
stipulate: "No advertising competitive to (name of business)," but in
Rizzolo's case, this provision was evidently overlooked by his legal
This is not the first time Rick Rizzolo's long time attorneys, Dean Patti and Tony Sgro , failed to advise him of potential legal
In May 2002,
shocked local real estate experts by paying an inflated $5.5 million
2.63-acres under his 1960s era converted warehouse -- probably three
times market value. Patti and Sgro had falsely advised him that he
could terminate long term leases
and expand his club if he bought the property. Rizzolo wanted to build
a $20 million dollar new building.
In an imitation of "Dumb and Dumber
," Patti and Sgro allowed
their biggest client to initial a page in a secret
(slipped to INSIDE VEGAS by a Patti and Sgro
employee) that clearly stated he would honor existing leases. They
then ended up working at $500 per hour unsuccessfully trying to evict a
long term tenant that was a barrier to their client's expansion plans.
Their efforts brought them three humiliating court defeats.
The same lawyers in 2001 also mounted a failed attempt to silence this
writer. Their ill-advised action inspired intervention by the Nevada
Press Association and ACLU. Nonetheless, Rizzolo loyally continues to
pay Patti and Sgro their exorbitant fee -- win or lose -- and for the
past several years, some of their high profile losses have proven to be
quite embarrassing to both client and law firm.
Nov. 13, 2001. Lawyer Tony
Sgro, left, argues in favor of
a gag order against Steve Miller. At right are attorneys
Dowon Kang, Chris Rasmussen and Gus Flangas who
successfully opposed the request. Miller chose not to
attend the hearing saying the action violated his First
Amendment rights and he didn't wish to dignify it
with his presence.
(Review-Journal photo by Gary Thompson)
Lawyer Dean Patti, left, and Mayor
speak in favor of an ordinance
to expand the Crazy
Horse, and permit the hiring of teenage
Buffalo Jim Barrier shows
proclaiming "Buffalo whups Rizzolo."
Displayed is the cash judgement he
received from a lawsuit against his
Buffalo Jim Barrier's Allstate Auto Repair business has
same space since 1976. Barrier enjoys a grandfathered rent of only
forty-three cents per square foot, and has no intention of leaving. To
Patti and Sgro's dismay, Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas obtained a copy
of Rizzolo's secret
purchase agreement and used it to easily convince three separate
judges that his client's lease was rock solid. For that reason, the
expansion of the Crazy Horse never took place, and Barrier's business
continues to thrive based on the publicity generated by his dispute
with Rizzolo, low rent, high visibility, and location near the LV
Based on his stand-offs with
persons suspected of being mob associates, the former pro-wrestler was
just named "Most Colorful Character" in the 2005 Review-Journal "
Best of Las Vegas"
new building, but Barrier stands
in the way
Rizzolo has become obsessed
with his neighbor, possibly as a way to distract himself from far more important
. He's presently spending a disproportionate amount of his
time and money trying to find ways to oust Barrier through legal and
illegal means. In response, Barrier has fired back with a million
along with numerous small
that he has consistently won.
Last month, while Rizzolo was preoccupied
writing the following letter with the greeting "Dear
Mr. Gentlemen" -- a letter snitching on his neighbor -- his biggest competitor was
planning the ultimate
meant only for the eyes of city employees Jim Shadrick, Devin
Smith, and their bosses at
City Hall (a city source slipped INSIDE VEGAS a copy), was obviously intended to inspire
Rizzolo's public employee friends to harass Barrier -- at taxpayer's
expense -- by forcing him to remove a completely safe and legal 4
by 10 foot sign saying "Auto Electrical
Specialists" from the front of his repair shop. The purported reason, according to
Rizzolo, was that the sign "maybe (sic) a safety concern."
A "safety concern?"
This sudden "concern" for "safety" is coming from a person who is about
to be indicted by the
Department of Justice for the ongoing beating
or possible killing
of customers who allegedly refuse to pay inflated
credit card tabs
. This same person has for years also blatantly
When Barrier saw the "Dear
Mr. Gentlemen" letter, he immediately hired an
engineering firm that filed a report saying the sign, in place since
1976, was structurally sound. When Shadrick and Smith learned that
Barrier had a copy of their confidential letter, and that he had hired
experts, they apparently backed down.
Barrier's little sign continues to beckon customers from the roof of
his humble garage while the giant "Treasures"
billboard cast a shadow on the Crazy Horse by telling Rizzolo's
customers to go elsewhere!
Maybe it would have been more prudent for Rizzolo to spend his time
hiring competent attorneys
to advise him instead of trying to snitch on his neighbor and call in favors from City Hall?
Stopping the Davaris from putting their huge sign directly
over his business should have been a higher priority than trying to
remove Barrier's tiny sign, but strange
things happen when a person is under as much stress
as Rick Rizzolo.
"Turnabout is fair play." Rizzolo's
sister, the Reverend Annette Marie
Patterson, in 2000 enlisted the help of then-Councilman Mike
McDonald, the subject of a current FBI probe of political
corruption, to help her open a "pop
up church" across the street from the future site of the
fifty-million dollar "Treasures,"
an action meant to legally squelch a liquor license for the competitive
club, and one that almost got the Councilman arrested.
Until her sisterly relationship to Rick Rizzolo was revealed in
the newspapers, the scam looked like it would work with McDonald and
Dean Patti pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Rev. Patterson, on cell
phone, Ralph and Bart Rizzolo listen to FBI agent
by Mike Christ)
Rev. Patterson's action stopped the Davari's project cold and cost them extensive
legal fees. It was later discovered that her
"Universal Church for Life Enhancement" filed its
formation certificate in an apparent violation
of state law, and Rev. Patterson consequently shut the "church"
down, reluctantly clearing the way for the liquor license to be granted
-- but not until she, McDonald, Patti, and her brother had totally
the much wealthier Davaris!
Fast forward to 2005. Business
has been drastically off for the two years since the FBI
and IRS tore the Horse apart and later arrested
its general manager for
tax evasion and making false statements to a grand jury. Nonetheless, more beatings and
robberies have been reported
there since the feds had
to step in to clean up the mess!
Crazy Horse manager Bobby DiApice
being taken down in front of bar
(Review-Journal photo by John
In the meantime, prospective customers can't miss that giant
billboard! But even with the sky falling on his head, Rick Rizzolo
is so preoccupied with Barrier's tiny sign that he doesn't seem to be
much attention to the bigger picture.
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