| Home | Books and Gifts | Photo Album | Mob Busters | Mafia Site Search |
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:

"My Dog Ate My Homework"

Mob lawyers try to weasel out of complying with
a Court Order, then steal $10,000 intended for
the daughters of "Las Vegas' Most Colorful
Character,"   the late Buffalo Jim Barrier

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
June 22, 2009

LAS VEGAS - Last month, local mob lawyers Dean Patti and Tony Sgro told United States Federal Court Judge Philip Pro that they could not produce the court ordered financial records of convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo and his wife Lisa because the documents were destroyed in a "flood" at their law office.

Patti and Sgro then snatched $10,000 from the estate of the late Buffalo Jim Barrier. More on this later.

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 Motion. The hearing was held before
then-District Court Judge Nancy Saitta.   (Review-Journal photo by Gary Thompson)

Aug. 2, 2002, Lawyer Dean Patti, left, and Mayor Oscar Goodman
speak in favor of an ordinance to expand the Crazy Horse Too and
permit the hiring of teenage strippers. The ordinance was passed.

Patti and Sgro's excuse for not producing the Rizzolo files is reminiscent of the little boy who told his teacher "My dog ate my homework!"

The Rizzolo files are a necessary part of a civil attempted murder lawsuit brought by Kansas tourist Kirk Henry after his neck was broken in 2001 by a Rizzolo employee when he disputed an $88 bar tab at the couple's former topless bar, the Crazy Horse Too.

One month following their purported "flood," Patti and Sgro filed another Motion in Federal Court seeking to delay or cancel Henry's right to examine their files. This time because the lawyers were not being paid to produce the documents.

They can't have it both ways! The files were either destroyed in a flood, or they somehow dried out, but won't be made available until Henry pays the law firm to retrieve them, or the judge rules the files must be made available. Nonetheless, two court orders later, Henry's attorneys are still waiting to complete Discovery. The two excuses completely contradict one another, and that should be a red flag to the court.

In their latest pleadings, Patti & Sgro assert: "Dean R. Patti has not refused to comply with the subpoena and he has not refused to produced (sp) documents or appear and testify. He merely asks for reasonable compensation for the intrusion on his business and that the date be set for when he is available."

Patti goes on to say the Court Order is interfering with his vacation.

This latest stalling tactic to prevent Henry's attorneys from knowing more about the Rizzolo's finances will test the mettle of Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr.  In the past, Judge Foley has been very lenient with Rizzolo and his attorneys.

On February 3, 2009, Judge Foley erroneously ruled to stymie Kirk Henry's ability to locate and collect the $9 million dollar settlement Rick Rizzolo agreed to pay him in exchange for a shortened prison sentence. After his release, Rizzolo welched on his agreement and Henry was forced to to locate the couple's hidden assets. Being successful in collecting his settlement would require cooperation from the court, but Judge Foley refused at the time.

On March 23, 2009, Judge Pro wisely issued an Order overruling Judge Foley's bogus ruling and opened the door for Henry's attorneys to depose Lisa Rizzolo and find the whereabouts of the couple's hidden fortune. Now, on July 13, Judge Foley is scheduled to rule whether or not to sanction the law firm for not complying with Judge Pro's Order to produce the financial and personal documents necessary for Henry to locate the Rizzolo's assets.

INSIDE VEGAS will report the outcome of the July 13 hearing.

Mob attorneys rob the grave of Buffalo Jim

It's been fifteen months since the death of Buffalo Jim Barrier. The former pro wrestler and Vegas garage owner operated an auto repair business next door to the Crazy Horse Too. He was the man who drew the FBI's attention to the long established racketeering enterprise run by the Rizzolos, and was given credit for putting Rick Rizzolo behind bars and shutting down his club, the scene of dozens of reported robberies, beatings, and at least two killings.

Buffalo Jim was found dead in a Boulder Highway motel room the day after Rick Rizzolo was released from prison. (Click on this Las Vegas Weekly cover to read "Larger than life. The life and death of Vegas Most Colorful Character")

In 2002, Barrier sued Rizzolo for harassment.

Seven months before his untimely passing, District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered Rizzolo to deposit one million dollars into the court's escrow account. That's how solid the judge thought Barrier's harassment claim was!

The suit was based on several years of Rizzolo trying to muscle Barrier into moving his business so the Crazy Horse could expand into its space. Barrier refused, and suffered having his customer's tires slashed, windows broken, paint keyed, vehicles illegally towed, and his business' air conditioning sabotaged on a regular basis. When Barrier had had enough, he sued (See "Barrier Sues Rizzolo For Harassment," June 26, 2002)

Judge Gonzalez saw probable cause, and ordered Rizzolo to put $ 1 million in escrow.
Aug. 22, 2007 
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 

Judge rules against Rizzolo
Imprisoned strip club owner ordered to put $1 million in escrow 


Serving a sentence of one year and one day after pleading guilty to conspiracy to evade taxes, A District Court judge on Tuesday ordered Crazy Horse Too owner Rick Rizzolo to stow away $1 million pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by longtime Rizzolo nemesis and neighboring business owner, James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier.

"Have $1 million retained in escrow pending the resolution of this case," Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered, upholding an earlier order that was challenged by Rizzolo's attorney Mark Hafer.

Rizzolo was incensed and refused to comply with the judge's order. The case proceeded through the court system until Barrier's untimely April 5, 2008 death. Following his death, Rizzolo's attorneys started a chain of legal events that would lead to their receipt of $10,000 from Barrier's estate. Here's the chronological order of those events according to the court record:

Rizzolo's attorneys filed a Writ with the Nevada Supreme Court asking that Judge Gonzalez' Order be overturned, they be awarded attorney's fees, and Barrier's case dismissed. The Justices rushed to issue a ruling in Patti and Sgro's favor, and a lien was immediately placed on the Barrier estate.

The Nevada Supreme Court consists of lawyers who must run for their positions. Such campaigns require hundreds of thousands of dollars to be successful. Patti and Sgro are well known for their political fund raising abilities.

A recent addition to the Supreme Court is former District Court Judge Nancy Saitta (LA Times photo - left), a close friend of Rick and Lisa Rizzolo.

Saitta's relationship with the Rizzolos inspired the August 12, 2005 INSIDE VEGAS column, "A judge in their pocket."

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 the 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 2006 "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.

Her relationships with Vegas power players also inspired the Los Angeles Times story "JUICE VS. JUSTICE | A TIMES INVESTIGATION In Las Vegas, They're Playing With a Stacked Judicial Deck."

This is not the first time Saitta took Barrier's money to give to Patti and Sgro. In the early 2000's, she was "randomly" assigned five concurrent cases involving Rizzolo. He prevailed in all cases, In one of the concurrent cases, Rizzolo had sued Barrier for defamation. When Barrier's attorney showed up late for court. Saitta sanctioned Barrier $4,500. She said the money was to pay Patti and Sgro for their "inconvenience."

So, it's not a stretch of the imagination to believe Saitta's fingerprints are all over the Supreme Court's action in this latest money grab for her friends at Patti and Sgro.

And then there's the most recent March 30, 2009 Order by District Judge Linda Bell (left). She followed through with the Supreme Court's Opinion. She overruled Judge Gonzalez' ruling, ordered that Patti and Sgro be paid by the Barrier daughters, and dismissed Buffalo Jim's harassment case.

The Statute of Limitations issue had been thoroughly argued in Judge Gonzalez' court, and she decided that because fraud was involved, and because delays occurred in a previous court, the Statute was no longer relevant in this case.

Rookie Judge Bell disagreed with her seasoned colleague's ruling.

The harassment case was originally assigned to Judge Saitta, but she had it transferred to Judge Gonzalez after her election to the Supreme Court. While Saitta had the case, it languished -- possibly on purpose to aid in exhausting the five year rule so the case could automatically be dismissed..

Judge Linda Bell took office in January 2009. She is the daughter of former Clark County DA Stewart Bell (left) who in 2003 had also been elected to the District Court bench.

During his tenure as District Attorney, five brutal beatings at the Crazy Horse Too were brought to him for prosecution by Metro Police. One of the cases involved Kirk Henry. Bell did not prosecute anyone associated with Rizzolo during his two terms as DA, instead passing the cases on to his successor David Roger who had received $50,000 in campaign contributions from Rick and Lisa Rizzolo. Immediately following his election, Roger discarded the five Crazy Horse cases.

Three months after she was sworn in, Judge Linda Bell carelessly signed the final Order taking $10,000 from the Barrier children. It's not known what part Patti and Sgro played in her father's, or her elections.

Barrier was a single father. He was the sole provider for his youngest child Jerica who was 15 at the time of his death, and the love of his life. Since then, Jerica, now 17, has been living with family friends and is doing fine. Her older sisters Jessica, 27, Jennifer, 26, and Elise Barrier, 20, are busy with their own careers, so Jerica is the center of the family's attention.

Soon after his passing, the Barrier girls discovered that their father was not a rich man, though he lavished them with luxuries throughout their childhood. Buffalo Jim was mainly a collector of sports and celebrity memorabilia, gold jewelry, guns, and old cars. Such items are hard to sell. Otherwise, he was a cash and carry big hearted working guy with no appreciable savings, and no life insurance.

In the process of trying to liquidate their father's estate, the girls hired a professional estate auction company. The firm set up the website to assist in the sales. They include an excellent documentary video made by a Dutch film maker featuring Barrier showing off some of his collectibles, and a revealing TV news story questioning his death.

So far, the estate has raised just over ten thousand hard earned dollars intended to pay for Jerica Barrier's senior year tuition at the Christian high school she attends, along with her living expenses. Money that was also intended to pay for Jerica's college education and help her get a start in life. But with the help of Judges Nancy Saitta and Linda Bell, most of that money was allowed to be stolen by the late Buffalo Jim Barrier's worst enemies.

Happy Father's Day!

* If you would like to receive Steve's frequent E-Briefs about Las Vegas' scandals, click here: Steve Miller's Las Vegas E-Briefs

Copyright © Steve Miller

email Steve Miller at:
div. of PLR International

Copyright © 1998 - 2009 PLR International