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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 Ultimate Revenge
"Dear Mr. Gentlemen:" -- Rick Rizzolo

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 13, 2005

                          Competitor 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.
      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 advisors.

This is not the first time Rick Rizzolo's long time attorneys, Dean Patti and Tony Sgro
, failed to advise him of potential legal disasters.

In May 2002,
Rizzolo shocked local real estate experts by paying an inflated $5.5 million for the 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 purchase agreement (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.
photo by Gary Thompson)

Lawyer Dean Patti, left, and Mayor Oscar Goodman
speak in favor of an ordinance to expand the Crazy
Horse, and permit the hiring of teenage strippers

Buffalo Jim Barrier shows off plaque
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 occupied the 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 Strip.
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" Reader's Poll!

Plans show 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 problems. 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 dollar harassment lawsuit along with numerous small claims actions 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 revenge.

The letter, 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
U.S. Department of Justice for the ongoing beating, crippling, or possible killing of customers who allegedly refuse to pay inflated credit card tabs. This same person has for years also blatantly ignored Alcohol Awareness laws!

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
( photo 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 pissed off 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 racketeering, 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 Gurzinski)

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 paying much attention to the bigger picture.

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