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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:

Juiced Judges
Saitta exposed in LA Times

 INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 19, 2005

LAS VEGAS - On March 26, 2001, Clark County District Court Judge Nancy M. Siatta ordered garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier to pay $4,500 to attorneys Dean Patti and Tony Sgro. The two lawyers represented Crazy Horse Too topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo in a racketeering and harassment civil suit brought by Barrier, the bar's unwelcome next door neighbor. Patti and Sgro are also close friends of the judge, and active political fund raisers.

The sanction was ordered because Barrier's former attorney was late for court causing Patti and Sgro to be "inconvenienced," according to Saitta. She then announced on the record that "Mr. Rizzolo has a good name in the community," before summarily dismissing the racketeering part of Barrier's lawsuit.

However, instead of ordering Barrier to pay the $4,500 directly to the court, or properly ordering his former attorney to personally pay the sanction for his tardiness, Judge Saitta told Barrier to pay Patti and Sgro directly, and she warned him to pay up before he left the courthouse! In a humiliating gesture, Barrier was forced to write a check to the opposition's lawyers on his way out of the court while Rizzolo and his associates watched. To observers, it looked like Barrier was being punished for filing a bogus law suit, though his charges were later proven to be accurate.

At the same time, Rizzolo had four other cases pending in Judge Saitta's court including defamation law suits against witnesses in the other cases. She also had a civil wrongful death action brought in 1997 by the family of Scott David Fau, a long haul trucker who was beaten to death by Crazy Horse employees.

Judges are supposed to be randomly selected to hear cases, but in an amazing coincidence, Saitta was "randomly" selected to preside over five simultaneous cases featuring the same litigant!

In 2002, Rizzolo, Dean Patti, and Tony Sgro hosted a fund raiser for Saitta at Piero's restaurant, a known Mob hang out. She was also seen attending parties at Rizzolo's Canyon Gate Country Club estate, and was observed hugging and kissing her host while Rizzolo's cases were still pending on her docket.

During FBI interviews from the recent G-Sting trial, federal witness Michael Galardi -- who the jury found to be credible -- said that Rizzolo had "taken care of Saitta," and suggested Rizzolo had the judge in his pocket and that she had ruled favorably on his behalf in past cases. Galardi also told the FBI that he heard Rizzolo brag he once paid Saitta $40,000 for favorable treatment. Galardi's testimony led to the bribery convictions of two ex-Clark County Commissioners. Judge Saitta has not been charged with any crime.

Ironically, on June 1, 2006, Rick Rizzolo's corporation pleaded guilty in Federal Court to criminal racketeering -- the same charge Barrier made five years earlier in his civil lawsuit that Saitta summarily dismissed!

Rizzolo must now pay $4.25 million in back taxes for his racketeering plea, including $5 million in fines and forfeiture and $1.7 million to settle other tax liabilities. He must also pay another beating victim, Kirk Henry, $10 million, totaling $17 million dollars in all.

Rizzolo is awaiting sentencing on September 15, and faces up to five years in prison at the discretion of Chief United States District Judge Philip M. Pro, but is expected to only have to serve sixteen months. While he's serving time, his father, brother, and sister, per Judge Pro's ruling, will be allowed to operate the Crazy Horse for another year pending a forced sale. If the club is not sold within that time, the court will appoint a receiver to operate it until its sold. However, it's just been announced that  the bar is also facing disciplinary action by the Las Vegas City Council that could involve another fine in excess of two million dollars.

Rizzolo may also face inclusion in Nevada's Black Book of persons banned from entering casinos.

Since 2002, I've repeatedly requested that Mayor Oscar Goodman bring the Crazy Horse before the council on a disciplinary action, but he steadfastly refused based on friendships and business ties with Rizzolo and his associates. In the meantime, more beatings and robberies occurred.

Citizen activist Steven "Captain Truth" Dempsey, a 1985 graduate of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, appeared at over 90 city council meetings since 2001, each time demanding a Show Cause action against the trouble plagued bar. His demands were also ignored by the City of Las Vegas, and the criminal activity continued unabated until the Feds finally took action earlier this year forcing the city government to begrudgingly respond to Dempsey's and my requests.

The long avoided Show Cause hearing on the Crazy Horse Too's liquor license could come before the council in July, 2006.

On May 29, 2002, after I authored several articles including an editorial entitled "Here comes the same judge" for a local weekly newspaper, Judge Saitta removed herself from all cases involving Rizzolo, except one. She gave no explanation as to why so many cases involving the same litigant were "randomly" assigned to her court.

Barrier's harassment lawsuit was immediately transferred to the court of District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, and a defamation action and motion for gag order against Steve Miller were dismissed. The harassment case is expected to go to trial later this year.

A preemptory challenge was filed to remove Saitta from the Fau case, but Rizzolo filed a motion opposing the challenge and succeeded in retaining her. Another case involving a defamation action filed by Rizzolo against Dan Kennedy, the key witness in the Fau case, was reassigned to another court, and remains active to this day (discouraging Kennedy from testifying in any cases against Rizzolo or his corporation).

The wrongful death trial of Scott David Fau was originally scheduled for February 1, 2001. The trial date was vacated by Judge Saitta and rescheduled for July 21, 2001. On July 6, 2001, without notice, Saitta summarily dismissed the case in its entirety two weeks before trial. The plaintiff appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, but Saitta changed her mind before the Court could rule, and for the third time scheduled a trial date in her court.

An abbreviated four day wrongful death civil trial was finally held in January 2003, after eight years, two dismissals, and two postponements, coupled with the District Attorney's refusal to take criminal action. The proceeding was severely hindered by the judge's rulings limiting evidence, and her jury instructions leading the jury to rule in Rizzolo's favor after deliberating for less than two hours. All witnesses called by the plaintiff failed to show including Dan Kennedy who Saitta had earlier allowed to be sued for defamation by the defendant.

Never in the history of Las Vegas jurisprudence has a judge accepted a defamation case brought against key witnesses in another case in the same court. What a chilling effect this has had!

Now the tables have turned on the juiced jurist.

In Las Vegas, They're Playing With a Stacked Judicial Deck
Some judges routinely rule in cases involving friends, former clients and business associates -- and in favor of lawyers who fill their campaign coffers.
By Michael J. Goodman and William C. Rempel
 Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

June 8, 2006

District Judge Nancy M. Saitta awarded more than $1 million in fees for a certified public accountant and his attorneys, two of whom held a campaign fundraiser for her while she was ruling on their case. “People who appear in my courtroom are all on equal footing,” she said.,1,438348,full.story


During a 2003 lunch with Times writer Michael J. Goodman, and telephone conversations with writer William C. Remple, I learned that their original assignment involved Rick Rizzolo and the Crazy Horse bar -- specifically how Rizzolo had allegedly paid off local judges to rule in his favor. Their list of questions focused on Judge Saitta. The Times requested and received my Saitta files dating back to 2001, when I began writing about BARRIER v. RIZZOLO.

Judge Nancy M. Saitta ended up as the poster girl in the "JUICE VS. JUSTICE" exposé that ran in newspapers nationally -- a three part investigative series on judicial corruption that brought our state a great deal of embarrassment.

Now Judge Saitta has the gall to announce her candidacy for a seat on the Nevada Supreme Court! But that's not all.

Three years after Saitta removed herself from all but one case involving Rizzolo, Judge William D. Jansen ordered Rizzolo to immediately pay a past due $281 judgment issued on August 23, 2005 by Judge Gonzalez in favor of Buffalo Jim Barrier. The judgment was won by Barrier in an illegal towing case, but Rizzolo refused to pay and appealed. At the appeal hearing, Rizzolo's attorneys presented a surprise court order issued on August 25, two days after Judge Gonzalez' judgment. The later order was signed by none other than Judge Saitta -- an order that Patti and Sgro unsuccessfully tried to use to convince Judge Jansen to dismiss Barrier's judgment and allow their client to continue his obsession with illegally towing Barrier's customer's cars!

When presented with the new order, Judge Jansen said, "We already have an order here," referring to the Gonzalez order of September 23. What's amazing is that there was no legal reason why Judge Saitta was still issuing orders twenty months after Barrier's case was reassigned to a new judge, unless she was doing someone a big favor! This bizarre and less-than-legal action inspired me to author "A judge in their pocket" on Rick Porrello's

Then there was this:

In Las Vegas, name and face recognition usually wins political campaigns. Last week, in a city where the average voter has lived for less than three years and usually votes for whoever has the most TV, direct mail, radio, newspaper, and billboard ads, Judge Saitta grandstanded on local TV news to grab some free media exposure allegedly to help her Supreme Court campaign. To get the cameras rolling, Saitta allegedly let a defendant make a mockery of her court and torture the families of his four murdered victims.

According to a June 8 story by Edward Lawrence, Reporter for KLAS TV NEWS Convicted murderer Terrell Young spent weeks delaying his trial by yelling at the judge and prosecution, filing meaningless motions and being kicked out of open court several times. But this trial has many people wondering how one defendant could get away with disruptive behavior in the courtroom over and over again. Terrell Young acted as his own attorney and many lawyers say he made the trial a disgrace. The victim's families had to endure day after day of child-like behavior. They say his actions were more like a problem child out of control. There were outbursts, outright disrespect and foul language. Terrell Young: "My brother ain't a (expletive) criminal. He ain't in jail. He ain't a (expletive) criminal. Judge Nancy Saitta warned Young not to use that word again in her courtroom. He defiantly did it four more times.

As the stunned family members of Terrell Young's murder victims walked out of Saitta's courtroom, I couldn't help but flash back to the similar stunned expressions on the faces of Scott Fau's wife and daughters when in the same courtroom three years earlier, Rick Rizzolo's bouncers were found not guilty of beating a husband and father to death.

Now, thanks to the LA Times, the entire nation has been informed about our town's dirtiest underwear.
Information on "Judge" Nancy Saitta, 8-22-01 through 8-15-05:

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